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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2013
This is a very personal and personable account of one man's training and service in the Royal Air Force - from the seventies into the noughties. Paul McDonald is an accomplished writer combining detail with attention holding narrative. He relates both the everyday events and the hair raising tumbles of his long flying career with equal mastery. His is an enviable story but it is told in a very humble way - like he was telling you of it over a pint in a public house somewhere. Interspersed with anecdotes about his flying exploits he tells you both the story of his service life and modestly shares his inner feelings with you as it unfolds. I often heard of people speak of books that they couldn't put down. This was certainly one of those for me. I've read many books by pilots about flying and the RAF over the last five decades but few have matched this for sheer entertainment value!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A memoir that reads like a novel charting the remarkable Royal Air Force career of Paul McDonald from young cadet to OBE and on to present day. From North East England to the Middle East. From steel town to steel nerves. This is a story of real people, real lives and real action told with a flair for writing and with a sense of humour uniquely British, uniquely RAF.

Winged Warriors is a memoir for those that don't usually read memoirs and fans of the genre alike. Inspiring on so many levels.

You don't need to be from a services background to relate to this book. "Bonny Lad" has a knack for making the information completely accessible, but this should be no surprise when you read of the experience he has as an instructor.

Action such as the reconnaissance mission to photograph the Kiev, the formidable Russian warship or life and death system failures in Jet Provosts and Tornados would rattle most of us beyond sanity. These are exciting reads among the detailed and at times very poignant narrative of an unusual career.

That career took in far more than the Cold War, taking Paul out to Kuwait at a time most of us only remember from TV news reports and the shocking footage of British tornado pilots battered and bruised in Iraqi `care'.

The Cold War itself is known to most only as a spy novel. Lethal injections delivered by means of an umbrella, the intelligence world and very secret. It was the war that never blew up. But it was very real and they were very dangerous times. Paul is keen and very right to highlight that despite the lack of full conflict, many paid the ultimate price. This book, I feel, is important in that it tells us what the Cold War really meant to the men and women on the front line ready to protect us from a very real threat and also what it could have meant to us at home had they not been there to deter an assault. It simply isn't taught or talked about let alone understood by the vast majority. It needs to be told and made real. Paul does this and does it well.

There are many things to learn from Winged Warriors. For one thing, pythons grow really fast. For another, Kuwait is not the place to work if you're at all paranoid, at least until you grow accustomed to how things are done. But what we take away from this book more than anything else is an enormous respect for those men and women of the Royal Air Force and their families.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2013
An excellent account of the life in the RAF during a period when the world was very uncertain. I found Paul McDonald's style of writing very easy to read and it gave a very good account of what it felt like to be in the front line of defence. The person who wrote that it was bland (see reviews) clearly didn't know what they were talking about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2013
In depth, insider knowledge from an incredibly talented man, some of it a bit repetitive, but fascinating tales of very skillful flying, as well as the frustrations endured because of "politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2013
Written by a modest guy who makes no claims to be the best jet jockey ever to take to the skies, which from my experience is rare amongst military fast jet pilots. His self-depreciating style make this book all the more readable - and evidences the fact that to survive in that world during the 70's and 80's luck was almost as important as skill. Written in a style that was as much to ensure his children and grand children had a record of what life was like for a RAF pilot, as for the outsider, this makes it all the more endearing. My father flew Meteors and Hunters and only very occasionally do we get tiny clips of his life back then when he was clearly most alive and at the very top of his game. I wish he had written it down like Thomas McDonald has in this book. His family are very lucky.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2014
This is a fantastic read, I read it on holiday and just couldn't put it down, in the book, Group Captain McDonald mentions the crash of an A26 Invader at a Biggin Hill air show, this sent shivers down my spine as I was there with my dad and we watched it happen. It was strange to read about it in a book some 30 odd years later.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2013
I found this book to be a very honest account of life as an RAF officer during the latter part of the cold war.

The author is clearly an impressive individual, his service career speaks for itself but what impressed me was his honesty. He is quite happy to write in detail about things that did not go as planned, mistakes he made as well as occasions where he messed up and took the flak as a result!

A lot of these stories concentrate on the "cooler" aspects of service life. This author does not, he details some fairly mundane aspects of service life and I really enjoyed reading this book. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2015
Having served in the RAF during the '70s I found this a very interesting and colourful record of those years. Superbly written, it flowed beautifully through the author's very accomplished career.
Having flown in the rear seat of B2 and T22 Canberras myself it was most enjoyable to read the detailed account of life flying the aircraft during the same period. Having flown in the nav seat of a knackered B2 from St Mawgan to St Athan to be scrapped I do wonder if it was the same airframe that was mentioned crashing at St Mawgan? Who knows, it was certainly at the right time, but it just added to my enjoyment of the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2012
This book is a joy to read. Written in a fast paced style the pages just keep on turning. It's contents refreshing, witty and insightful. Anyone with a military background will enjoy it, the excitement of military training, the honest accounts of scrapes and near misses and thd understated modesty of a real achiever are all described with humour and sincerity. The sharp mind of this fast jet pilot is clear to see. A really inspiring book, I cannot recommend it more highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2013
I just could not put this down, but it was a real visit back in time for me and may not appeal to all. Paul's and my career over lapped for many years although we never met. He was two courses ahead of me at OCTU and served on 13 Sqn four years after I did. We were promoted to Squadron Leader on the same summer list and I visited Linton, where he was the CFI, when he was in post, although he was on leave. I found his career fastinating and his determination and dedication in all his posts shines through. A very goood read.
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