Friday, October 10, 2008

Day of the Flying Fox

One of the highlights each year of the Geneseo airshow is the chance to hear ex-RCAF Spitfire pilot Charley Fox's "colour commentary." Not only goes Charley talk about the aircraft in the show, and his intake of water during the show, but he tells stories of his service both in Europe and Canada with the RCAF in World War Two. Mr. Fox had a very interesting career first as a Harvard instructor and then as a Spitfire pilot in Europe. Day of the Flying Fox by Steve Pitt is a rather interesting book that gathers many of Charley's stories together in print. I think Mr. Pitt intended this book as a children's or young adult's book as it has many sidebars entitled Wordplay, Fascinating Facts, and the occasional Frightening Fact. If you ignore some of these rather basic sidebars, what you find is a rather breezy but interesting read about Charley's wartime exploits. It includes his mid air with a Hurricane in Canada, an attack on a German staff car that may have contained Rommel, his flight testing of a FW-190, a very bizarre friend fire incident involving a P-51 Mustang, and his participation in the last 126 Wing combat op of World War Two. I also enjoyed the fact that Charley's time as an instructor in Canada was not overlooked. Usually books such as this tend to give the BCATP a short shift and focus on combat operations, but Pitt did a great job weaving in both facets of Mr. Fox's flying career. I did find it rather annoying that the author referred to the North American Yale as a BT-9 a few times. A Yale is a Yale, but if you must try to apply a U.S. designation to it, it is closer to a BT-14 rather then a BT-9. This minor quibble aside, it was an enjoyable read and one that RCAF and Spitfire fans should check out.

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