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Alan Bristow: Helicopter Pioneer - The Autobiography Hardcover – 30 Nov 2009
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About the Author
Patrick Malone is an author and historian.
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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.
The helicopter business is not something the general public have much contact with, but this story will make you sit up and take notice. If you want to set the world on fire with your new enterprise, read this as a how-to manual, but beware - you'll need more front than Harrods to carry it off! Recommended.
I liked Bristow immediately and he certainly takes delight in a good story. From Algiers to Vietnam to Bolivia to the boardroom, the action never stops. A bit like the man, I suspect. After his early life and service in WWII, I wondered if I would be interested in the business side of his life, but I needn't have worried. Bristow makes even business interesting.
He liked people and could sympathise with those in trouble. How many would lend £500 to cover the gambling debt of a man he had just met? His quick temper, famously intolerant of incompetence, undoubtedly contributed to Bristow Helicopter's gold standard safety record. A friend, a leader and a team player at the same time.
This autobiography allows you to live Alan Bristow's history with him. His attention to technical detail only enhances an otherwise unbelievably tall tale.
As you read through the pages you wonder how on earth he ever had the time and energy to do so. much. Also how ever did he manage to survive amongst the conniving and lying politicians he had to deal with.
I can only strongly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in aviation and business.
I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and will definitely read it again at a later date.
John Stevens. Royal Wootton Bassett.
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