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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

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on 2 November 2001
This was not the first Biggles book to be published (that was THE CAMELS ARE COMING, of 1932), but chronologically it is the first book of Biggles' adventures in WWI. Although many of Biggles' exploits and experiences recounted here actually befell Johns and his fellow officers during the air war, there is a curious absence of real grit and immediacy, such as I have found in actual autobiographies of WW I fighting aces. I assume Johns, who quickly realized that young readers were his main audience, simply left them out. [I haven't had a chance to compare the original 1935 edition with later editions, revised as late as 1955. I assume what we have here is the 1955 version.]
One annoying feature of the present edition is a number of usually completely unnecessary footnotes. Quite often, the footnoted name or term is actually explained in the text itself, a line or two after the footnote! Bad editing by some casual meddler who was unwisely involved in the preparation of this circa 1992 paperback.
Anyway, if you love Biggles, and many do, including me, you'll want to read of these exploits that
take place just before he joined the famous 266 squadron and met Algy Lacey. Quite a bit of air-war excitement, and some of it authentic too.
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on 12 December 2008
This is an excellent introduction to Biggles as a combat pilot for it brings together so many of the experiences that one learns about in other early Biggles books. It begins with Biggles' first ever flight and then moves quickly to his first solo effort. The fear and confusion that nearly overcomes him durng these first few ventures into the air makes for a better introduction to his WW1 experiences than 'The Camels are Coming' where,though inexperienced, he already shows signs of his brilliance as a pilot.

The early relationships he has with Mark Way, his first observer, and with his first Flight Commander are particularly poignant. The tragedy of what happens to these key figures underlines the fact that W.E.Johns was not a man who relished war or who made it seem glamorous. It is, from the start, a pretty dreadful business.

His early career in a two seater is then complemented by learning about his transfer to 266 and the command of Major Mullen. The world of 'Biggles of the Camel Squadron' and 'Biggles of 266' gains an extra dimension from these early experiences which make the flying hero so much more vulnerable and yet also more attractive.
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on 4 January 2008
this book is brilliant but sometimes quite sad. The last chapter about his old observer being wounded and his old flight commander being killed is very moving. The language is fantastic and suitable for 10+ readers.
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on 22 December 2012
Although I read many Biggles books as a child, I don't recall reading this one, which was an oversight. Luckily, I bought it to introduce my nine year old son to Biggles - and both of us enjoyed it hugely! In this book WE Johns introduces us to a teenage Biggles who travels to the Western Front and has to learn to fly and fight in a matter of hours. Miraculously, Biggles survives multiple, dangerous adventures, dog fights, crashes and brushes with death. Biggles Learns To Fly is an enjoyable, easy page turner. Its style and language have aged surprisingly well. Importantly for me, the book does not glorify war. Quite the reverse, I came away at the end feeling that I had gained insight into the terrible risks and experiences, and the deep loyalty and cameraderie, of the extraordinarily brave young flyers of 1914-18. This book works on two levels: for children and for adults. I recommend you give it a spin!
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on 24 March 2013
This book is an absolute barnstorming joy! It is an absolute delight, capturing atmophere perfectly, in terms of the feeling of flying, of the mood of the various areas surrounding Biggles at any particular time and of the code of honour and pride among the pilots with regard to there own commrades and the enemy. This edition also comes with notes which allows one to have ones cake and eat it by explaining all the patios and detail slipped in effortlessly by the author. And all that is to say nothing of the plot. Amazingly fast-paced and full of desperate fights and dearing-do, this is just one amazing Boys' Own style adventure that never lets up surprising and thrilling the reader!
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on 14 January 2013
I had never read this & wondered just how Biggles got into it all. Exciting & informative & these books have spiced up my eldest sons history lessons. He is half German & the details in the Johns books really have made a deep impression..
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on 27 January 2014
My brother loved these books as a boy so i bought for my 10 year old plane obsessed son to go with flight simulator fighter pilot for christmas... he now 'is' biggles and has already bought and devoured 4 more books
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on 27 December 2012
My son, Howard Wilkinson Photographer, has been working on a filming project written round a Tiger Moth training aircraft; this ancient novel from his childhood will fill in his memories of early days of reading.
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on 28 April 2013
Missed these books when I was growing up so I decided to see what the fuss was about. I know they're for children but I did find the unrelentingly prim and stuffy tone wearying after a while.
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on 26 December 2012
Bought as a present for our 9 year old grandson, he enjoyed it very much & is ready for more books in the Biggles series.
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