Sunday, July 20, 2008

Favorite Fiction Aviation Books

About a month ago I posted some of my favorite non-fiction aviation books. Jeff asked about my favorite fiction aviation books. That took some thought. I enjoy aviation books and I enjoy fiction, but quite honestly most of the fiction aviation books I've read are silly. They are either sci-fi military thrillers, or really bad pulp war stories. Most flying scenes convey no sense to flying at all. I find it odd that with all the good fiction out there, very few have been about flying. That being said, I did come up with the following list. (Disclairmer: Outside of Catch 22 and No Highway, I read most of these books in high school.)

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - Not really about flying, this is probably the best aviation fiction book I've read. A classic.
  • Nevil Shute has a few books about aviation. No Highway is a good example. This is the story of the crash of the fictional Rutland Reindeer and an investigation into metal fatigue. Loosely based on the real life story of the Comet airliner.
  • More of a novella, the Shepherd by Fredrick Forsyth is a supernatural story about a lost Vampire jet guided back to home base by a Mosquito. Only problem is the Mosquito that guided him home disappeared in the North Sea many years earlier.
  • You would think that World War Two aviation would be rife for good fiction stories. Sadly very few are of any quality. Though I haven't read it in years, I remember Goodbye Mickey Mouse by Len Deighton being an enjoyable novel about Mustang pilots in England. Again, though I haven't read it since high school, I remember A Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson being an enjoyable book about RAF Hurricane pilots early in World War Two. I wonder if the lack of good WW2 aivation fiction is because the best stories are often true and presented in non-fiction titles.
  • The opened scene of Stephen Coonts's Flight of the Intruder features some good writing about flying.
  • Another good book about the Vietnam air war is Mark Berent's Rolling Thunder. Much like Coonts, Berent's first novel spawned a series which over time diluted the impact of the debut novel.
  • Walter Boyne, is a former director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and his book Trophy for Eagles about air racing pilots in the 30s who end up fighting in the Spanish Civil War. This is a pretty good aviation fiction book. He wrote two sequels to the book, but I don't remember enjoying them as much.
  • Finally I'll include Dale Brown's Flight of the Old Dog, but just to keep Matt happy.

Canadian author Spencer Dunmore has written some aviation novels over the years. Sadly, I have to admit I have only read his non-fiction books. Are his fiction books any good?


lawroark said...

I love Catch-22. My Dad REALLY loves it . . . it's the only book he rereads, and he's read it several times.

David M. Knights said...

I've never read No Highway, but I will admit that the movie staring Jimmy Stewart is a favorite. There was a guy on ARC a year or so ago who was looking for plans because he wanted to build the Rutland Reindeer from the movie.

Matt Tauber said...

'Catch-22' is a favorite of mine also, and it led me to Joseph Heller's other fine work, such as the religious farce 'God Knows' or his autobiographical stuff. Skip Catch's ill-conceived sequel, 'Closing Time' and 'Something Happened' is about 400 pages too long.

Anonymous said...


Len Deighton's 'Bomber' is interesting reading. I enjoyed it more than 'Goodbye Mickey Mouse'.


Martin Keenan said...

Would "Stranger to the Ground" by Richard Bach qualify as fiction? It's certainly one of the most evocative books about flying I've ever read.

Martin Keenan said...

Cancel previous message, as I just saw you have Stranger to the Ground listed under non-fiction.