Are you on a quest for a gripping book on flying? Look no further, as here are ten books on aviation that everyone must read. They are suitable not only for pilots but also for aviation enthusiasts. The selection includes captivating biographies, recollections of wartime pilots, and stories about the very first crossing of the Atlantic.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery — Night Flight
The excellent author of the beautiful “Little Prince” wasn’t originally a writer. “Night Flight” tells about Saint-Exupery’s genuine experiences during the 1930s when he worked as a pilot. At the time, he used to conduct hazardous mail flights across the South Atlantic and Africa. The story follows Fabien, an aircraft pilot who flies mail routes above Chile, Paraguay, Patagonia, and Argentina. As at the very beginning of aviation planes were not equipped with GPS, radar, and jet engines, flights were filled with peril and uncertainty. In the book, pilot Fabien tries an extremely ghastly journey during a terrible night-time storm in Argentina.
During long flights, Fabien brooded upon loneliness, friendship, freedom, and the general meaning of life. “Night Flight” belongs to the series of novels where Saint-Exupery conveyed the genuine art of managing an aircraft.
Beryl Markham — West With the Night
This book is an enthralling memoir of Beryl Markham, an aviator adventurer. This exquisitely written autobiography is set in the period of the 1920s and 1930s in Kenya, the country in which this British-born aviator grew up. Markham learned about her passion for flying while she was observing elephants from a small aircraft. She eventually became one of the initial bush pilots in the country. Also, she was the first female who obtained a commercial license for piloting from Kenya and the first woman who crossed the Atlantic on her own in 1936. The book depicts a 3,600-mile-long flight Markham navigated despite mighty headwinds in an aircraft that could fly 163 mph only.
David McCullough — The Wright Brothers
The book follows two Ohio boys, Wilbur and Orville Wright. Even though they were uneducated, they changed the progress of aviation history. The fascinating story was written by David McCullough, an author who won the Pulitzer Prize. It relies on more than a thousand family letters, personal diaries, and notebooks. Also, it offers you the opportunity to peek into engineering procedures and death-defying and challenging attempts that were involved in the creation of the very first airplane. This novel is surely among the most inspiring ones about aviation, depicting the boldness and perseverance that eventually resulted in the brothers making the first flight back in 1903.
Charles A. Lindbergh — The Spirit of St. Louis
Charles Lindbergh is a distinguished pilot, renowned for his frequent solo flights from New York to Paris back in 1927. “The Spirit of St. Louis” is an autobiographical narrative that depicts a breathtaking flight in his single-seat custom-constructed airplane. This awarded adventure story offers readers a glance at aviation history prior to the commercial and charter flight era.
Robert Mason — Chickenhawk
The story of Chickenhawk follows the author, Robert Mason, during the Vietnam war. At the time, Mason made more than 1,000 attack mission flights in the UH-1 Huey helicopter. This bestseller depicts his personal life from his boyish desires to fly to the helicopter training school in the State of Texas. Having joined the U.S. military, Mason was then sent off to Vietnam in the 1965–1966 period. The book details the dread and hysteria of the war, involving La Drang battle as well as events in Taiwan and Saigon. Mason recollects encountering soldiers from South Vietnam as well as withdrawing others from the jungle. Up to this date, more than 500,000 copies of the book have been sold, helping it position itself among the most famous aviation books from the war era.
V.M. Yeats – Winged Victory
“Winged Victory” is among exceptional World War I novels. In fact, it is an aviation counterpart of Remarque’s “All Is Quiet on the Western Front.” The novel genuinely illustrates the terror of air battles in France, solitude, combats, fright, lethargy, women, enthusiasm, and comradeship. During World War II, British pilots used to purchase a copy of the novel for even £5, only to have this powerful recollection of dreadful times in the Royal Flying Corps. Sadly, Yeats did not live to see the grand success of his book. He died from tuberculosis in 1934, shortly after the publication of the novel.
Richard Hillary — The Last Enemy
“The Last Enemy” is a fascinating RAF novel set in World War II. It is a searing tale about a blooming pilot and his operational times, followed by horrible agony during the Battle of Britain. What’s more, it was in the very battle that this young pilot was shot down and ended up with his face brutally disfigured by severe burns.
Nevil Shute — No Highway
This is among the greatest thriller novels written by Nevil Shute. It follows an aeronautical engineer from the U.K. In the book, he is attempting to persuade the flight team of a transatlantic aircraft that there is an imminent hazard that will cause the tail to fall off. Furhermore, the book mysteriously foreshadowed the structural collapse of two BOAC Comets back in the ’50s.
Sir Gordon Taylor — The Sky Beyond
Sir Gordon Taylor was an outstanding flight navigator from Australia during the period of the 1930s. He managed to meticulously navigate Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, an amazing aviation hero, over the Pacific Ocean using a sextant and a cheap drift sight. His recollection of the hazardous 1934 flight across the ocean is quite close to the delicacy and narrative art of Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
J. Laurence Pritchard — Sir George Cayley
This great book gives a complete biography of Sir George Cayley, an unrecognized baronet from Yorkshire. This English nobleman might not be quite well-known; however, his achievements are significant. Namely, the baronet invented and designed the first contemporary fixed-winged aircraft in 1799, more than one hundred years before the Wright brothers. Even though he was still unknown to the majority of the globe, Sir Cayley successfully soared his coachman over the Yorkshire valley in 1853. 150 years later, in 2003, Sir Richard Branson colorfully emulated the feat.