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on 14 April 2013
This autobiography follows the career of NASA test-pilot Don Mallick, from basic training to the cockpits of some of the fastest jets ever built (of the ones we're allowed to know about, anyway).

Mallick's skill and professionalism really come across, as he describes the perils of Navy carrier flying, and later the detailed test work in experimental planes like the XB-70 Valkyrie and the Blackbird.
He also shares some of his personal story, and remembers colleagues who did not survive this dangerous work.

I particularly liked the story of the lunar-lander test & training machine (which almost killed Neil Armstrong). Mallick was one of the very first to fly this contraption, and makes clear his concern that it was rushed into astronaut training without the proper degree of testing.

The book is written in a forthright, unassuming style. Although not very basic in its explanation of aeronautical terms (which would be annoying for the more knowledgeable), it can be well enjoyed by the 'armchair' pilot or aviation enthusiast.
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on 30 July 2015
This guy has had a fantastic career and accomplished more on any random Tuesday than I will in my entire life. I'm a bit of an aviation nut so I was excited to read this book, but I'm sorry to report it just doesn't do it for me.

The stories interest me to a point, it isn't the subject matter than failed to grab me, it was the writing style. There's such a high level of assumed baseline knowledge that all too often I found myself re-reading sentences two of three times to try understand what was being said. There are far too many acronyms to be able to read this book and enjoy it. Sometimes something is explained before getting into the story proper, other times, it's just assumed the reader understands what's being discussed.

I don't regret buying the book but it could've been so much more accessible and enjoyable
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on 7 May 2013
they can't write! Every time I read a book written by a test pilot I'm amazed at the job they do, the things that go wrong, friends killed, lucky escapes, but you never *feel* for the writer. It's like reading a long debrief.

If you like this sort of thing, it's a damn good book, covering the formation of NASA (from NACA) and the early X program and supersonic flight back in the days when jets *looked* like jets! If this sort of thing doesn't float your boat, then don't think this is an engaging read.

That said, I enjoyed it, so one off the top spot, but that's because of the style.
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on 9 November 2012
I really enjoyed this book as I have an interest in test pilots and their work. This was especially interesting in that it gave an insight to the work of the early jet testing at Edwards and the beginings of the NASA research.
There are plenty of exciting developments towards the end of the book - leading up to the early space flights. However we start in the begining of flying training, and the early naval aircraft.
Perhaps one of the more interesting things that the author brings out is that test flying can be quite routine. A lot of the flying is repeating tests to confirm previous data. Other times the author is simply flying a chase sortie - which is simply observing the test aircraft for potential problems.
Nevertheless it is a must for aviation historians and enthusiasts.
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on 15 December 2016
This was a fascinating autobiography of a very experienced test pilot with an amazing range of aircraft in his log book. He describes his work in great detail giving a rare insight into the development of many aircraft and the continuing research once they are in service.

Anyone interested in aeronautical research should read this book.

The only thing that lets it down is the poor quality photographs. The copied resolution in the kindle version of the book makes the aircraft only just about recognisable.
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on 23 August 2017
Don Mallick ‘s quiet , understated voyage through the rarely-seen world of a test pilot is immensely readable and hugely informative.

His clear explanation of frequently very high-tech areas of aviation makes an excellent read for anyone enthusiastic about flying, private or professional.

Our world is the better for his contribution to flight safety.
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on 10 September 2013
This is a good, presumably verbatim, personal history. A bit short on day-to-day, stories but perfectly readable - much easier to get through than some similar books. Very interesting pieces on aircraft I'd heard of and quite a few I'd seen at airshows, plus the more exotic stuff that NASA was playing with 50 or 60 years ago. The author manages to get across the frustrations caused by beaurocratic stupidity withou quite filling in the details. A good read.
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on 20 September 2013
For someone with an interest in things aeronautical this is an excellent book. It is well written and goes into just the right level of detail on technical matters. It deals with the development of a test pilot's skills and the dangers experienced at the frontier of knowledge in their field.
The story is logically and well written and describes accurately the shock and sadness of loosing colleagues in unforeseen situations.

There are lots of interesting photographs but they do not display well on my Kindle touch.

I strongly recommend this book.
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on 24 May 2014
This is an excellent book from all angles, fascinating from his young age when he learnt to fly and was eventually flying planes with names we will all recognise, and was there just at the right time for the moon programme whilst being a test pilot for NASA and others. The thrills and spills he experienced throughout his career made great reading, i could not put this book down!!
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on 2 February 2013
This book really impressed me taking you into the test pilots cockpit and whilst you were there feeling the danger the PILOT was in. I especially found the Valkyrie incident interesting as although I knew of this crash from reading other books and watching documentaries nobody has ever explained the crash properly and this was like having someone that was there explaining it in detail.
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