"In full flight"

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“In Full Flight,” by Captain A. Spooner, D.S.O., D.F.C. 272 pp. (Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., Gulf House, 2, Portman Street, London, W.1. 35s.)

There have been plenty of books by pilots about their experiences in World War II but this is more than just another on the same subject. It is written by someone dedicated to flying and commences with the Brooklands days, when young Spooner went there to learn to fly. He recalls many of the great Brooklands Flying Club personalities of those days—Duncan Davis, Bob Ashton, Bill Massey, Jimmy the Boy, Ken Waller, C. Nepean Bishop, Jack Sewell. What memories they rekindle! The author ran a Fiat 500 at the time, and recalls Ken Firth as owning an Avro Avian and a Lagonda, “Scotty” with a “100-m.p.h. open Alvis,” Ken Waller driving an 8-litre Bentley, Duncan Davis a Derby-Bentley—”nearly all open cars and it was rare indeed that the hoods were put up.” I found this book slow going at first, until the author’s sensations when lost in cloud in a Tiger Moth while still a novice at Brooklands. This exudes the spirit of amateur flying adventure, and no-one should miss the account of a winter excursion to Nice and back in D.H. Puss-Moth G-AAXY, of Eric Redwing’s astounding forced landing in a Calais street when attempting his night navigation test in Robinson Redwing’s G-ABOK, of typical forced landings of the care-free pre-war days in a friend’s D.H. Gipsy Moth G-ABLZ and of experiences of a “Pilota Piknik” in pre-war Hungary (in the Gipsy Moth).

These chapters capture admirably the spirit of pre-war Club flying and the author’s war-time flying is every bit as enthralling, concerned as it was with the Malta blitz and spotting convoys for Capt. Agnew’s famous naval striking force. This is one of the great aviation autobiographies, enhanced by some excellent photographs, and some rare plans. I heartily recommend it.—W. B.