Fleet Air Arm Boys Volumes Four: All Round Memories from the Flight Deck and Cockpit By Steve Bond - Available for pre-order Royal Navy
Fleet Air Arm Boys Helicopters Ground Crew Royal Navy Steve Bond

Fleet Air Arm Boys Volume Four: A Lifetime of Reminiscences from the Flight Deck By Steve Bond

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Steve Bond is back with the final volume in this popular series. Unlike his previous three tomes, with their focus on air/rotorcraft, this book is uniquely dedicated to the personnel of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) themselves. Each chapter will concentrate on the memories of contributors who served in a range of roles, including those below the flight deck. Accounts will focus on the everyday life upon an aircraft carrier as well as the extraordinary challenges faced during operations. There is a fascinating chapter covering exchange services with the RAF and other navies including the French and US; and also insight into the Indian navy’s experience with the Sea Hawk and Sea Harrier.

Within the previous volumes, we met some remarkable characters and there is a chapter devoted to people’s memories of them. The closing section entitled ‘Thoughts’ sees contributors reflect on their FAA career with many deeply moving responses and discourses on the future of the service.

The book is heavily illustrated throughout in colour and black and white with personal photographs from the contributors, artwork and tongue-in-cheek cartoons for which the FAA is famous. Volume Four is the perfect conclusion to the ongoing post-war story of a truly astounding branch of the armed forces.

Signatories.

Pls note that, owing to the nature of the event, we cannot guarantee that all books will be signed by all signatories.

Co-authors Steve and Heather Bond and John Davies (Grubstreet Publishing)

Some recent reviews...

“I have to say this is very much the best, ‘leaving the finest to last’ has a Biblical provenance. The inclusion of many of the ‘non-flyers’ is excellent.” 

William Nicol-Gent 

“As I scanned through the pages, my eye caught sight of Jane Cole-Hamilton's - A Pilot's Wife - and I had to stop and read it. From that alone, your book is a winner with me.” 

Mel Evans 

“Ah, those were the days! A great read."

Mike Turner

“I've enjoyed all the books in the series and I found Vol.4 a particularly thought provoking read. The more action events featured in the earlier books were lapped up by me. I never tire of reading about other flyers experiences and adventures. Interesting, too, to hear the stories from ground crews and maintainers. Vol.4 was more reflective in character and reminded me of a few more sober moments experienced in my eight years in.”

Tony Wilson

 “All four books in Steve Bond's Fleet Air Arm Boys series have been absorbing, filled with the tales of the activities of various areas of naval aviation life, both ashore and when operating from a carrier. This last volume in the series is more concerned with personal reflections of what that life meant to the various individuals involved, particularly poignant were the reflections by those remembering the lives of those lost in flying accidents, and even more so the consideration of the tragic effects on wives, girlfriends and families left behind as a result. A thought promoting consideration of the drives and motivations of those involved in the ever perilous and rarely seen daily working lives of those Fleet Air Arm Boys and Girls who chose this life as a profession. Eminently readable and thoroughly absorbing and enjoyable.”

Tony Wilson on Amazon, rated 5 stars

 “I love Vol.4!! I also suffered a flew flashbacks (all good!)”

Bob Turner

 “I did enjoy reading it and had a few laughs. It was interesting - no doubt. It was a bit of an odd feeling reading about incidents on the Carriers that I do recollect very well, even to this day. Sad at times. I found the article written by Arun Prakash Indian Navy, particularly interesting, more especially his description of the Russian replacement for the Sea Harrier! John Fords ‘In defence of Aircraft Carriers’ was ‘bang on’.”

John Keenan

Wing Commander Bob Crane. Observer.

893 Sqn Sea Vixen HMS Hermes, RAF Phantom, US Navy VF-171 F-4J USS Forrestal, RAF Tornado F.3

 Rear Admiral Tom Cunningham CBE.

Observer. 750 Sqn Sea Prince, 737 Sqn Wessex, 826 Sqn Sea King, 360 Sqn Canberra, 702, 815, 829 Sqns Lynx HMS Amazon, HMS Battleaxe and Gibraltar Flt, Ops Officer HMS Illustrious, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Air and Carriers

 Leading Wren Beverley McDermott

Radio Operator, Communications Centre Yeovilton

 Leading Airman Richard Dickinson.

Aircraft handler. Portland Wasp and Wessex, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Blake Sea King, 846 Sqn Sea King

 Chief Petty Officer John Keenan.

Aircraft Engineering Artificer. 800 and 809 Sqns Buccaneer, HMS Eagle, Hermes, Victorious, 892 Sqn Phantom HMS Ark Royal.801 Sqn Sea Harrier HMS Invincible, 360 Sqn Canberra

 Petty Officer Terry McDonald.

Radio and radar technician. Hunter, Sea Hawk, Sea Vampire, Sea Venom Lossiemouth. 899 Sqn Sea Vixen HMS Eagle, 848 Sqn Whirlwind HMS Bulwark

 Lieutenant Commander Andrew Murray AFC. Pilot.

705 Sqn Gazelle, 706, 771, 820, 814, 820, 849 Sqns Sea King. 857 Sqn Sea King Afghanistan.. Gulf War 2. HMS Ark Royal, Illustrious, Invincible. 824 Sqn Merlin. Flew last Sea King to HMS Sultan 2018. Deputy Command Flight Safety Officer

 Commander Mike Norman OBE AFC.

Aircraft Artificer, 728 Sqn Meteor, 750 Sqn Sea Venom. Observer. 826 Sqn Wessex 3, Wessex 5, Wasp and 814 Sqn Sea King 2. HMS Sheffield XO and 2 i/c, with the ship until it was sunk by an Exocet missile in the Falklands War. Naval and Air Attache in Portugal, Head of Service in Northern Ireland., Head of service in the Falkland Island garrison, Naval Base Cdr in Hong Kong.

 Lieutenant Kim Sharman. Pilot.

899 Sqn Sea Vixen HMS Eagle, ‘C’ Sqn A&AEE Sea Vixen, 750 Sqn Sea Prince

 Lieutenant Commander Digby Stephenson. Observer.

824 Sqn Sea King HMS Ark Royal, 800 Sqn Buccaneer HMS Eagle, 809 Sqn Buccaneer HMS Ark Royal, US Navy VA42 A-6 USS Nimitz, FRADU Hunter

 Leading Wren Catherine Davies van Zoen. Aircraft Mechanic (Airframes and Engines).   

Visiting Aircraft Section Yeovilton, Hunter, Canberra, Buccaneer, Phantom, Sea Prince, Sea Devon, Wasp, Whirlwind, Tiger Moth, Swordfish 

Hardback
ISBN: 9781911667438
Publisher: Grub Street Publishing

N.B. Only sales here contribute to keeping heritage aircraft flying

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Customer Reviews

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Customer Reviews

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BOB C.
FAA Boys (& Girls) Vol 4 - A Fitting Finale to the Series

Books about the FAA often include recollections by retired and still-serving aircrew, covering solely air operations. Then there’s Steve and Heather Bond’s FAA Boys (& Girls) series, in which personnel of various ranks, rates, branches and trades are the contributors, the result being a ‘treasure trove’ of wide-ranging experiences recounted by those who served at sea and/or on land. Vol 4 of FAA B&G is a fitting finale to the series – and it is very tempting to accord it as the best of the bunch…

…but then the first three volumes were superb. However, Vol 4 differs from these by not being aircraft-specific, allowing chapter content to be more varied (eg. ‘Characters’, ‘Courage’ and ‘With other Forces’) and to be more focused on people at work and at play. There is also more space for individual contributions and for more photographs, cartoons and paintings as well as for ‘Nutties’, which are short funny tales and anecdotes. Additionally, the last chapter, titled 'Final Thoughts', has allowed many contributors to reveal their feelings when looking back on their FAA service.

Steve and Heather have amassed well over one million words and thousands of photos during their work in bringing FAA B&G to fruition, all of which - it is planned - will be archived by the Navy Wings Heritage Centre. Overall, FAA B&G Vol 4 is a crowning, final ‘episode’ to the series, emphasising throughout the book the close-knit esprit de corps within the FAA family.

R
ROBERT C.
FAA Boys & Girls Vol 4 - A Fitting Finale to the Series

Books about the FAA often include recollections by retired and still-serving aircrew, covering solely air operations. Then there’s Steve and Heather Bond’s FAA Boys & Girls series, in which personnel of various ranks, rates, branches and trades are the contributors, the result being a ‘treasure trove’ of wide-ranging experiences recounted by those who served at sea and/or on land. Vol 4 of FAA B&G is a fitting finale to the series – and it is very tempting to accord it as the best of the bunch…

…but then the first three volumes were superb. However, Vol 4 differs from these by not being aircraft-specific, allowing chapter content to be more varied (eg. ‘Characters’, ‘Courage’ and ‘With other Forces’) and to be more focused on people at work and at play. There is also more space for individual contributions and for more photographs, cartoons and paintings as well as for ‘Nutties’, which are short funny tales and anecdotes. Additionally, the last chapter, titled 'Final Thoughts', has allowed many contributors to reveal their feelings when looking back on their FAA service.

Steve and Heather have amassed well over one million words and thousands of photos during their work in bringing FAA B&G to fruition, all of which - it is planned - will be archived by the Navy Wings Heritage Centre. Overall, FAA B&G Vol 4 is a crowning, final ‘episode’ to the series, emphasising throughout the book the close-knit esprit de corps within the FAA family.

M
Mike C.
Volume Four, the excellence maintained

I must confess to being a contributor to all four Volumes. I could be accused of bias, but I absolutely deny that. Volume Four confirms how little I knew about the Fleet Air Arm that I served in.

Volume Four continues the splendid progress of the previous three. From vivid first-hand accounts I have learned so many things I never knew before. I’ve had confirmation of apocryphal stories, sat in the front and rear cockpits of aircraft I hadn't flown, often in circumstances I hadn’t imagined. I’ve smiled at the words of old friends, made new friends, had memories refreshed and laughed out loud, often. My respect for all those who made it all possible for me to fly has been increased ten-fold. And that merely scratches the surface........

Quoting a review of Monserrat’s final book, I said that “Fleet Air Arm Boys” Volume One was “A rich, rare and noble feast”. The subsequent three volumes and, notably, this final one have confirmed my opinion. My thanks for this truly remarkable series.

C
Chris H.
Memories

Using only the first-hand accounts of aircrew and maintainers, Vol 3 is a new format for Steve Bond's excellent 'Fleet AirArm Boys' series.

Commencing with the Dragonfly and working all the way through to the Wildcat, which is so much more than a Lynx, he uses these first-hand accounts of his contributors to detail the evolution of the RN's use of helicopters.

As a former Wessex driver, it quite took me back to those days when I rarely flew above 500 ft. Originally I had visions of being a fast jet jockey but I am so glad that except for 75 hours on Chipmunks my military career was rotary wing.

Steve has found a wide and diverse group of contributors to recall their experiences be they pilots, observer or maintainers.

Definitely recommended reading.

Chris Hodgkinson
60-65

B
BOB C.
FAA BOYS VOL 3 – A MUST-READ COMPLEMENT TO VOLS 1 AND 2

Although an ex-FAA ‘fixed-winger’ who, indeed, contributed to Vols 1 and 2, I have marvelled at the exploits of our rotary-wing brethren as collated superbly by Steve Bond and wife Heather in FAA Boys Vol 3. ‘Normal’ every-day/night operations from, say, the small flight deck of a frigate or destroyer is exacting for air and ‘ground’ crews alike, but when these take place in rough seas and bad weather, and especially at night, it requires considerable concentration, skill, courage and determination by all involved. However, as well as the launch and recovery phases, the actual missions have to be performed. From searching for and attacking enemy sub/surface forces, through dropping SAS/SBS troops behind enemy lines, to having to play ‘musical flight decks or icebergs’ when fuel gets low - and not forgetting the inevitable aircraft and ship emergencies - Vol 3 covers all sorts of incredible stories, all told by those who bravely carried out or supported such operations. It serves as a ‘must-read’ complement to Vols 1 and 2, recalling the history of FAA rotary-wing from its humble beginnings with the Hoverfly and Dragonfly to operating the modern-day, world-class Merlin and Wildcat. Roll on Vol 4!