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Open Cockpit by [Lee, Arthur Gould]
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Open Cockpit Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product Description


'This is a classic account of the air war over the Western Front.' --Britain at War

Open Cockpit is a great read, and generously illustrated with a mix of well-known images, and the author's own album snaps to add a personal touch. For a gripping first-hand account of what flying and fighting in WWI was all about, this one has few peers and it is good to see a new edition available for a fresh generation of enthusiasts. --WINDSOCK Worldwide

This book is one of his finest and brings home to the reader life in the air and on the ground for a Great War pilot. Well written, dramatic and informative it's almost like being there with him as he flies. Another contender for my pick of Editor's Choice this month. --The Great War magazine (November 2012)

Most enjoyable book, a welcome reprint. --The Aviation Historian

Grub Street Publishing has produced yet another high quality book. The production value is first rate and well worth the money. Overall, I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable books that I have read about the experiences of a First World War combatant. Gould is a top notch author who is able to tell his tale without being overly dramatic or gruesome. A thoroughly engaging read, I had trouble putting the book down. I highly recommend this book to those looking for a story that entertains and educates concurrently. --Airforce Magazine

About the Author

Arthur Gould Lee is an author and aviation specialist.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7415 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Grub Street Publishing (19 Aug. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G6SBIN8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #225,728 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Of all the First World War pilot memoirs I've read over the years, this is one of the best. Arthur Gould Lee relates how he managed to wrangle a transfer in 1916 from his army unit to the Royal Flying Corps, where he soon discovered, flight training was haphazard and often dangerous. Most of the instructors under whom he trained (many of whom had seen active service in France) were unskilled in imparting the skills of flying to their pupils. Oftentimes, the expectation was for the pupil to get in the cockpit, remembering the few bits of advice passed on by the instructor, and get on with it! In Lee's words: "There was no instruction technique, no standard method. Nobody could explain in simple, practical terms how a plane was piloted. There was no communication between instructor and pupil in the air. It was obvious to us all that instructors should have been taught their job. There were competent instructors at the civil flying schools at Hendon and Brooklands, who were engaged mostly in teaching novice pilots to get the R.A.C. [Royal Aero Club] brevet, but these should long ago have been assembled into a school to give crash courses to R.F.C. [Royal Flying Corps] novice instructors."

Fortunately, for Lee, he had a patient instructor who freely gave him advice and helped make him a competent pilot. Furthermore, as if by a stroke of fate, Lee had fallen ill, which delayed his departure to France for several weeks. Once he got well, Lee put in some extra flying time on the Sopwith Pup, a fighter he later flew in combat over the Western Front during the spring and summer of 1917. Later his squadron converted to the redoubtable, though tricky, Sopwith Camel. (Lee served in France from May 1917 to January 1918, surviving numerous close calls.
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By Mike Watkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 July 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By a curious coincidence, the author left 46 Sqn in Jan 1918, just before V.M.Yeates joined it, in Feb '18. Yeates was the author of the semi-autobiographical novel Winged Victory. Yeates was a civilian volunteer who went back to civvie street; Lee, seemingly, was a professional soldier. He remained in the RAF after the war, and eventually retired in 1946 with the rank of Air Vice-Marshal (the equivalent of a Major-General).

The contrast between the two books could hardly be more marked. Yeates' book was written in the 30's, the year before he died of TB. It is very much of the Disenchantment years; disillusioned, embittered, including a lot of cynical philosophising that may not have been present at the time. This book, written in the late 60's, is very matter of fact, a memoir of the author's time from learning to fly to his time, just post-war, teaching others to fly.

Of the two, this is the better. There is some very pointed comment about the decisions made further up the chain of command, but mostly it is a commentary free of bitterness. It is also very self-effacing. Both men were accredited "aces"; neither boast of their own exploits. If you want an emotionally coloured impression of how WWI's fliers may have felt, then Winged Victory is well worth reading. But if you want a dispassionate account of what it was like to be a WWI fighter pilot, you will struggle to find a better book than this.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fantastic read from start to finish.
Many times in reviews of flying books you will read "Puts the reader in the cockpit..." This book really does as you read of Arthur's journey from training to frontline and back to training again, only this time as an instructor .
The book ends with Arthur Gould Lee's poignant return to the former battleground some 50 years later.
To paraphrase another well worn line, if you only read one book on air combat in World War I, make it 'Open Cockpit'
For me it just has the edge over 'Sagittarius Rising'
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The final chapter of this book is a startlingly-relevant comment on the outcome of World War One, from a personal and a political viewpoint. In this, the centenary year of The Battle of The Somme, Arthur Gould Lee shares with us his thoughts and makes some comparisons that would be considered well-informed and remarkably-relevant today. Arthur Gould Lee concisely states here, from 1968, much of what the media have taken the first-half of 2016 to hyperbolise.
Arthur Gould Lee is Captain James Bigglesworth. W.E.Johns tried to throw us off the scent by ensuring that Captain James Bigglesworth, 'Biggles', never went near a Sopwith Pup; indeed he told us that Biggles represented no single WW1 pilot; but, read this book and you will quickly realise that there is much of Arthur Gould Lee in the person whom we know as Biggles. The tactics, the repeated crashing in the front-line trenches, the descriptions of survival in situations where his opponents held every advantage; even his musings on his prospects and his lucky past, whilst in the air; these are all so strikingly similar to our boyhood hero.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This man writes beautifully. He is a great pilot and historian and is able to put you in the seat with the air in your face and bullets cracking nearby.
His description of having to urinate whilst on a high-altitude,2 hour flight is accurate I can assure you having had similar experiences during the latter stage of a five-hour flight in a glider !!
The book compliments beautifully (without repetition) his other work "No Parachute" which I read first.
The author continued his career in aviation and when you read of the near-misses he experienced you can see how luck and skill go hand in hand in air warfare.
This book should appeal to pilots and historians.
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