Some time ago one of my sons called to ask me some questions about the British army. It transpired that a new employee in his firm was, like myself, a retired army officer and my son was concerned that this man had a senior position of trust and was claiming to have done far more than seemed possible during that former career in uniform. I wonder if the call would have been made at all had that new colleague been Alan Bristow whose own real-life CV might have been instantly dismissed as pure fiction.
Alan Bristow died shortly after this biography was completed and, all things considered, we should be grateful for its completion. Survivor of two ships sinking under his feet in WW2, credited with shooting down two Stukas, one of the earliest British helicopter pilots, first man in the world to land a helicopter on a battleship, holder of the Croix de Guerre, veteran of many of the world's conflicts from WW2 onwards, flew air support for pirate whaling fleets as well as for oil workers in the Persian Gulf and much more besides. Everything this man accomplished and experienced led inexorably to his forming Bristow Helicopters, the largest helicopter company in the world outside the USA. Oh!, and he almost brought down Margaret Thatcher's government.
Alan Bristow lived a full and complete life and this autobiography discloses the detail of his life and his service to others as well as to himself. Above all it reveals his underlying adventurous spirit which dominated everything he undertook.
The book comprises 370 pages of often riveting text, with approx. 90 black and white photos which take the reader from those early days of service, to the various machines flown, right up to the latter days of boardroom, business and politics. It also has the most thorough Index!, which makes cross- reference so easy.
As far as biographies go, this is one of those very rare "5" Star products. For those who like helicopters, much of what you know is owed to this man, for those who admire adventurers, this man is your subject, for those who simply enjoy biographies, this man lived a life which has now provides an excellent read.