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Biggles and the Rescue Flight Paperback – 4 Feb 1993
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Biggles is back! And with new retro-style covers he's bigger than ever.
From the Back Cover
Peter Fortymore can't believe his brother is dead so he conceives a desperate plan. He'll run away from school, 'borrow' a plane and fly off to France to find him. In the chaos of the First World War, he and his friend manage to get away with it until they're rumbled by their Flight Commander - Biggles.
Biggles is back! Now classic fiction, the action-packed adventures of cult hero and flying ace Squadron Leader James Bigglesworth are available in new editions for another generation.
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'Inspiring reading' Daily Telegraph
Top customer reviews
Anyway, the plot in this one thrilled me as a youngster since the main characters are two school boys who escapes from school to join the young Royal Flying Corps. It was easy to identify oneself with the characters and their quest to free a brother from german captivity. The story is easy to read and can well be used as an introduction to reading english texts for those with another native language. It also serves well as an introduction to air warfare in the Great War, since W.E. Johns own experiences as a wartime pilot was from this era and he clearly shows insights in this matter.
Of all of the literary heroes of the 20th century, surely none can boast of as many adventures as Squadron Leader James Bigglesworth. The brainchild of a genuine First World War pilot, Captain W.E. Johns, an astonishing ninety six Biggles titles were published between 1932 and 1970. Defying all known weapons as well as time itself (his inability to age in normal human terms across his literary life is the source of much discussion among fans and curious bystanders), Biggles is a true-blue warrior who looks danger squarely in the eye, whilst always playing by (or just within) the rules.
Being only the second of the Biggles canon that this reviewer has read, 'Biggles & The Rescue Flight' comes highly recommended. Chronologically, it follows closely the 'first' (in terms of setting the scene if not the first that was written) novel, 'Biggles Learns To Fly'. However, whilst the former book offers sporadic thrills amidst an almost autobiographical and highly engaging account of primitive aerial combat during The Great War, 'Biggles & The Rescue Flight' is much more of an out-and-out adventure, with the conflict as a backdrop.
The plot revolves around two school boys, nicknamed Rip and Thirty, who break free from the dorm' and escape to France where they join Biggles's squadron under false pretences. The reason for the lads absconding is the disappearance ("Missing. Presumed dead.") of Thirty's older brother, and their quest to prove the "Presumed dead" to be a wholly incorrect supposition. As such, from almost the third chapter in, the story writes itself, and those expected a twist-in-the tale will be disappointed. Written in 1939, as Britain was about to enter a second, even more harrowing conflict against the Germans, this is stiff-upper lip-stuff by the spadeful. However, Johns delivers the goods with such pace and spirit that it is impossible not to get swept along. Indeed, he describes the flying combat with remarkable energy and conviction, as only who has lived through such experiences could.
The novel was originally published as 'The Rescue Flight', which becomes less surprising given that Biggles here is not strictly the star of the show. The story's real driving force is Thirty, whose quest for his brother provides the tale's momentum. Biggles himself appears almost as the wise old sage, offering advice and caution to his young charges, a role that seems a trifle too mature for a relatively inexperienced pilot who was only in his late teens* at the time of the events being described.
Nevertheless, such points are trivialities that should not detract from the high dosage of derring-do on offer. 'Biggles & The Rescue Flight' is what it is: a fast-paced and highly-entertaining adventure tale for boys, both young and old. As such, it neither preaches, nor overstays its welcome. If the remaining 94 titles are as good as this, it might well be a good idea to clock up plenty more air miles!
* Official estimates record Biggles as having been 'born' in 1899.
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