This book, based largely on George Edwards interviews but also many other sources, is brilliant. I was a Vickers/BAC employee 1957-63 and my opinion of politicians of the day and BOAC management was pretty low, whereas GRE was held in high esteem. Now I have read this book my opinion of the former has sunk even lower and George Edwards has risen even higher. The book is a real revelation as to the problems he faced in achieving what he did for employees and for the country. Buy it.
This book was a Christmas gift in 2006, yet somehow I only got around to starting it a couple of weeks ago and have to say it was a fascinating, inspiring and valuable experience that, frankly, left me in awe of this true legend of British aviation. The author has done a splendid job in turning the huge list of achievements of this remarkable man, into a well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable read. I'm so glad I didn't leave it too late!
As someone who was born 7 years after the end of WW2, I grew up with Spitfires, Hurricanes, Wellingtons, Lancasters and Mosquitos foremost in my school playground games and weekly comics. In my early teens it was `V` bombers like the Valiant and the greatest plane that never was, the TSR 2, that fired my imagination. Sir George was pivotal in both the aforementioned. I retained my interest in aircraft to this day and thought I knew a lot about the history and evolution of aviation. Somehow, Sir George Edwards had escaped my attention, I suspect largely because my focus was on the airborne antics and record breakings that made the likes of Guy Gibson, `Cats Eyes` Cunningham, Peter Twiss and other test pilots of the day the stars of the air. Little did I know that men such as these and the upper echelons of the Royal Air Force as well as the heads of both British, Canadian and American airlines would have put Sir George on their short list of aviation giants.
From the Foreword by Sir John Major to the concluding words by the former Chairman of British Aerospace and BAe Systems , this is a story that deserves to be writ large and read by every budding student of engineering, as well as those of politics and national governance. However, the story has such human interest, of this man from humble beginnings in East London, (an affinity we both shared) that I would commend it to anyone with an interest in modern British history or even just biographies in general, for Sir George Edwards certainly left his mark. In both military and civil aviation, he was was, by the very nature of the business, always at or a little ahead of the cutting edge of the technology. As another reviewer has already suggested, his achievements were as pride-inducing as the prevarications and ditherings of government ministers were shameful folly. There is humour and intrigue within the pages, one passage giving a fascinating insight into the bizarre things that can happen when trying to do a deal with the famously eccentric Howard Hughes!
Sir George's legacy is massive, but his quiet humility even more moving and the following quote from the book sums that up rather nicely for me; In describing an early Concorde flight, a passenger remarked to Sir George, "Mach 2 feels no different". "Yes", Sir George replied. "That was the difficult bit".
If you like aircraft and the aerospace industry this is just brilliant. George Edwards really captures the atmosphere of the industry during his working life, the technical challenges, the political challenges and the leadership challenges. He also manages to do it in an enjoyable style, i didn't put it down!