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on 11 March 2012
Actually this wasn't so much a 'slow' start as a technical one full of aircraft and training/operational detail that might not be to the taste of everyone who buys a book which is advertised a 'gripping escape story.'
I am quite interested in the 'training' side but have to admit to skim reading some of the first part of this book. However, having read 'Tornado Down' and 'Bravo Two Zero' which are also stories of surviving in enemy territory I was not disappointed by this account and admired Nick Richardson's straight forward, unassuming style.
This is quite a roller coaster of a book because the second part is a breathtaking account of a pilot wrenched from his technological world and finding himself alone in a desperate, war torn place where it is difficult to even distinguish friend from enemy.
Maybe the title/ blurb is a little misleading but for anyone who is a fan of this kind of true-life account 'No Escape Zone' is a must read.
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on 14 November 2013
This book is amazing. Starts well, as long as you can put up with the Navy slang and the way officers in the UK armed forces act and behave, children most of them, but very professional children i may add.
You get an insight of what the build up was like to deployment and the training they had and then the shoot down.

One of the best autobiography reads i have ever picked up.
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on 12 May 2017
Great item
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on 16 December 2013
Takes a while to get into the story however it is required to set the scene. A truly gripping story with real life escapades behind enemy lines to avoid detection and ultimately escape.
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on 11 January 2014
the story was a very good read. Felt like you were Nick every step off the way I would and have recommend it to people to read.
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on 29 January 2013
first class service would use them again bn bbn bn bn bnbn bn bn bnn bnn nbn bnbnn bn n
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on 17 March 2012
In 1994 the author was a Sea Harrier pilot in 801 Squadron aboard HMS Ark Royal in the Aegean. Responding to a request for support from the ground, he was shot down over Bosnia on 16th April. This is the gripping story of the events leading up to that, and of his subsequent escape from a country hostile on every side, told by a man with his neck on the line both in the air and on the ground. It is a brilliant example of the can-do spirit of the Fleet Air Arm. It is also a salutary reminder of the usefulness of fixed-wing maritime air power.

Richardson rightly points out that in 1994 the Sea Harrier was the only British fast jet capable of air defence, ground attack and reconnaissance, and that unlike RAF fast jet pilots those of the Fleet Air Arm were trained in all three roles so could be called upon for any task, indeed could swing roles in flight is appropriately armed. The FAA has its full share of the Royal Navy's long tradition of willingness to go anywhere and do anything, and it's people's readiness to hop in and make one at the drop of a hat.

At the time of the events described the Sea Harrier FRS1 was awaiting replacement by the FA2 mark, and was in many ways obsolescent. This showed in many ways, from the extraordinary multi-tasking required of the pilot of a single-seat aircraft with no auto-pilot - there is Richardson trying to fold his map with one hand and fly through turbulence with the other - and in its radar and weapons system, massively inferior in range and capability to its potential opponent over Bosnia, the MiG-29 Fulcrum with its Doppler radar. On the way to war 801 were able to sidestep to Decimomannu in Sardinia for much needed steep dive training, where there was also an opportunity to practice against German MiG-29s inherited from the DDR. The Sea Harrier FRS1's deficiencies became blindingly obvious.

Richardson does nearly get to down two aircraft over Bosnia, but fortunately in the very last few seconds recognises them as RAF Jaguars whose want of professionalism and poor drills have nearly found them out. An instructive episode for him, the reader, and (we hope) for the Jaguars.

Devotees of Pierre Clostermann's `The Big Show' (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004 reprints) will have hoist in the unwisdom of coming back for a second nibble at a ground target. Richardson as a naval officer was however bound in honour to do his utmost for the SAS on the ground, and it took until his third pass for the Serb missile people to hit his aircraft. His lack of a precision ground attack weapon - the Paveways which the Harrier could use were reserved for 'priority' targets, so for a general sortie Richardson was carrying WW2-style dumb bombs - was a prime cause of the loss of Richardson's aircraft (and nearly of Richardson himself), because he had to use a particular procedure to minimise bombing error. He was `lucky' that the hit in the engine was not further forward and `lucky' that he came to in time to get out, and `lucky' that he was still high enough for his parachute to open.

We then find Richardson on the ground, in shock, traumatised, confused, disoriented, suddenly thrust into a totally unfamiliar transition from jet pilot to forest fugitive. Just as the reader was with him in the cockpit so we are with him on the ground, sharing his efforts to try and understand the situation on the ground.

Richardson's rescue, the mysterious situation of his eventual SAS hosts, and their and his ultimate extraction via a superb piece of airmanship by a French Puma pilot under small arms fire come over well, the last fully appreciated by Richardson as an ex-helicopter pilot.

The history of the Sea Harrier is well described, as also its future as seen in Millennium Year. That our Labour government would scrap the air defence of the Fleet in 2006, nullifying the utility of the amphibious lift so expensively developed post-Falklands, is understandably not foreseen.

Richardson does not appear to bond much with Ark Royal and seems to see the ship as a horse box for his hunter; it's the difference between the Supplementary List and the General List, the latter understand that the ship's Air Group is her fundamental weapons system. There are some other giveaways in nautical terminology. That is not to belittle Richardson's professionalism as an aviator which shines brightly throughout the narrative.

Squadron life and personalities come through well including how 801's officers' responsibilities for their ratings were arranged. There is a delightful vignette of the Unofficial Chinese traders on board Ark Royal.

Also well described and explained, amongst much fascinating detail of Harrier operation including the need to avoid compressor stall during combat manoeuvre, are the complexities of managing both airframe attitude and engine when landing on a carrier within the ninety-second water injection window, down to the need to move off before the roasted deck bursts the tyres; and the additional and disorienting difficulties of doing the same at night. The example given of the loss of a USMC AV-8 pilot will have concentrated the mind.

The background to our Bosnian involvement is well sketched in, including the loathesomeness of the Serbs, unfortunately not matched by any objectivity nor much gratitude from their Muslim victims - paying for their long-distant forebears' behaviour - who were understandably not impressed by the UN's pusillanimous management of the situation. Ultimately Richardson and his SAS hosts were within a hair's breadth of being mobbed and lynched by the Muslims - as vividly described.

This is a deservedly popular book, now in its sixth edition since its original publication by Little, Brown in 2000. With pacy accounts like this of real events I am puzzled as to why anyone bothers with adventure fiction. `No Escape Zone' is up there with Norman Hanson's iconic account of the Fleet Air Arm at war in his `Carrier Pilot' ( pub. Patrick Stephens, 1979). Chronologically Richardson could be Hanson's grandson, but Hanson in his Corsair and Richardson in his Sea Harrier are in another sense brothers; Richardson and his like are Hanson's heirs.

The narrative is complemented by some good photographs, but they suffer from being printed on ordinary paper.
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on 2 December 2011
I don't know how much help Nick Richardson had from a ghost writer, if any, but this is a humdinger of a book. The first half is full of Fleet Air Arm minutiae that will strike a chord with anyone who has even a passing interest in this kind of thing, but it is, of course, the more dramatic finalé that truly grips you. And it really is mesmerising stuff. Coming across as a rather refined British officer type, Nick has a rather sober take on things, and his empathetic tone comes across as genuine and well thought-out.
I thoroughly loved No Escape Zone, and I can't recommend it enough.
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on 7 April 2002
This is a excellent book. I gave 4 star because of few reasons. If the title of this book was, "my life in RN", or "how to fly the Sea Harrier"... it would definitely win all 5 stars. But the title is "No escape zone", and on the cover of the book is also written, "one of the most gripping escape stories of the modern era".
It has a slow start, on 180 pages Mr. Richardson describe how to fly the Sea Harrier, he explains ways of dropping bombs, how to fly against more superior at that time MIG-29, combat training... but this is not the book about that. In my opinion, this book is about how he was shot down over the city of Gorazde, and how he and the SAS team got trough enemy lines to safety. The story about that is written on only 120 pages comparing with the 180 pages of introduction.
In this 120 pages, he describes who was who in this war, who did what, how people of Gorazde under siege lived and fought against superior enemy, and he describes it well, although this was not his war (his statement).
Despite of my remarks, this book is worth reading, and I highly recommend it. You will read it in one breath especially the last 100 pages. I did.
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on 4 September 2004
You expect the first few chapters of any book to set the story and be a tad slow - the author did this for well over 50% of the book and after 20% I got really, really bored and skipped to the crash and escape part. When you get to the good stuff - you can't put it down - the crash chapter is probably one of the best written descriptive chapters I have ever read - the author really makes you feel what it must have been like. It's an amazing escape and very exciting but you just get the impression that some editor somewhere has been looking over the authors shoulder saying 'that's far too short - fill it out a bit with a few chapters of warble!'.
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