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on 2 April 2014
Book Review by Michael Farrier for ‘Trust Me I’m the Pilot’ (Author: - Baron de Tourtouon. Published by FastPrint Publishing. 583 pages. ISBN 978-178035-432-3. Available through Amazon for £12.59 at the time of purchase [Dec. 2013]).

As a keen aviation type with a particular interest in anything de Havilland Trident (airliner) related, I immediately seized upon this book when I saw it advertised on Amazon recently. Having also worked on the Trident series of airliners back in the 70’s also helped! Added to that, I have also had a particular interest in the air accident that befell one Trident 1c way back in June 1972 (registration G-ARPI; ‘Papa India’ as it was phonetically known). I remember this tragic incident from the days of being a 14-year-old schoolboy; the aircraft being built in the town where I lived at the time. This air accident obviously meant a lot to the author, as he was not only an airline pilot and obviously a very keen aviator (especially as he now flies microlights etc in his retirement), but he was also a close colleague and friend of the co-pilot from the accident; in fact, they were in the same year as trainees at British European Airways (BEA).

Onto the book. It is written in a very readable way, with countless anecdotes taken from the author’s huge flying –and own life- experience. One can see that this man obviously possesses that rare and wonderful attribute; a photographic memory, which must have been very advantageous for writing his memoirs! His book also relays the very innermost feelings of the author for the loss of his close friend, as well as perhaps venting some of this feeling against the way the airline was run at the time. Whether this changed as time went on I would suspect not, though BEA did of course join forces with the other British ‘national’ airline, BOAC, to form British Airways as we know it today. There are a plethora of photographs, many from the author’s own collection, and diagrams peppered throughout the book which add to the readability of some of the incidents.

The author also goes into the technical and scientific side of flying, which was another reason I purchased the book in the first place, and why I think this excellent book will appeal to the technical types amongst us as well as those who just want a taste of the commercial flying scene from the seventies to date.

A wonderful, informative and thoroughly entertaining read. Buy one today, you will not be disappointed, and although there is of course the painfully sad aspect of Britain’s worst-ever plane crash, there are also many, many lighter moments along the way.

Highly recommended.

Mike Farrier
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on 23 July 2013
But a star removed because of his vociferous hatred of British European Airways. I got it that he hated that airline and all the management from the begining. Reasserting this view every page gets a trifle wearing.
However in spite of that, a good entertaining read.
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on 17 September 2015
This is a very odd book. On the one hand the story is, to a point, entertaining and the insights into British aviation, particularly BEA in the 1970s and 80s, are fascinating. The author’s alternative explanation for the Papa India tragedy is interesting although nobody will ever know what really happened on that miserable, blustery Sunday in June 1972.

On the other hand the author comes across as deeply dislikable to the point that on a few occasions I struggled to keep reading. He adores Margaret Thatcher and thinks Norman Tebbit would have been "the best British prime minister of the last 50 years". More seriously he appears to detest anyone and anything which doesn’t originate from the south east of England, particularly “Frogs”, “Krauts”, “Jocks” and Asian cleaners. He even manages to use the “N word” twice (locs 1161 and 2264 if you doubt me).

The standard of writing is appalling and if the book was edited at all it must have been by somebody who had English as a poor third language. Anyone who writes for publication really should understand the difference between “recant” and “recount”, ‘incredulous” and “incredible” (“I still find it incredulous…..”), “sufferance” and “suffrage” and many more such examples. Some sentences are plain gibberish like this at loc 5260 - “I was ordered off the flight deck instantly to wait in the Queen’s Building with the instructions of concocting an excuse with the intent of attempting to save my career”. Eh?

Some reviewers are clearly more forgiving and tolerant than me but as a Scot I found the author’s attitude towards my country and my countrymen even more offensive than his mangling of the English language. (“He was also a pervert and a drinker. If I had to live in Scotland I probably would be as well.” Ha, ha, ha, how amusing.)

I think I’m being generous in awarding two stars.
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on 20 December 2012
We have all been there- flirted with a book we know nothing about- give it a go expecting to drop out after two chapters.

this book got me hooked. I know nothing about flying however the author's tone and style really drew me in- his childhood in essex as described is fascinating. Above all it a wonderful reminder that if we really truly want to do something - all things are possible if our minds say it be so. I actually cared when his character got to flying school, and for some reason was gutted when he got the typical knock backs. The idea of someone becoming a commercial pilot having left initially school and worked in a woodyard is inspirational.

the technical stuff i am sure will get flyboys salivating, for me - luckily- it was not too intense and did not take away from the story. There is a real tinge of regret meets tragedy which has made me wonder if the true story has been constrained due to the establishment covering things up.

Well worth a read - even if you are not biggles
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on 31 January 2013
I read this book initially because of my interest in the Staines Trident crash of 1972, I'd never been convinced by the official version of events in the enquiry and I knew that the author was a close friend of one of the young, under-qualified flight crew that died in the crash.

What I found was a book that covered a lot of ground, touched on many different aspects of what it was like to grow up in the Britain of the 1950s and 60s, and what it was like to fly for an airline that has a far better name than it deserves based on its record of the time.

It drills into the culture born out of pre-war deference, shows how many of the captains were arrogant and aloof incompetents and demonstrates how these factors could (and did) morph into tragedy on several (or more) occasions. It also shows how many of these people covered for each other and gave their social contacts an easy ride in exchange for various favours. If you're in a lodge, you may find it an uncomfortable read. There is also some black humour concerning the good fortune of avoiding terrorist incidents on aircraft, you'd certainly not expect the way in which this came about.

A significant part of the book covers, in several chunks, the details behind the crash of G-ARPI and the way that the establishment found a way to bury the truth in the Lane report. Compare that report with other accident reports written by AAIB inspectors at around the same time, the language used is totally different, legal rather than technical. There's a reason for that. It has resonances with the aviation industry today, the author believes that he and his colleagues were far too under-trained and inexperienced when they began line flying in the early 1970s and that similar problems exist today where newly qualified pilots have even fewer hours than they did 40 years ago despite the greater demands made on them and the reduced opportunities to actually fly the aircraft because of reliance on automation. If you know anything about the Air France A330 crash at night in the Atlantic then this book should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

It's interspersed with lots of humorous stories and amusement, as well as the stress of losing a close friend and the break up of relationships. What really shows through is the author's zest for life and his delight with aviation as both a career and a love.

If I can offer one criticism, the prose is very much written in the style of someone telling the tale in the pub which makes it simultaneously readable and a bit unclear, you may find yourself needing to re-read a paragraph a few times to disentangle the exact meaning, but it's worth the effort to do that.

It's going to be put on my "keep" bookshelf, I have every intention of re-reading it in the future.
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on 13 January 2013
Read this book. You might at times be confused by the content (aviation) but that is all part of The Baron's story. The man has an astonishing memory, recalling events throughout his youth with great detail.

No sentimentality here, an enthralling honest story of his life captured in snippets through his experiences, whether they are flying or otherwise.
I don't doubt the authenticity either having spent many an hour talking to ancient relatives who flew in the RAF in WWII, their tales mirror the Baron's of that era.

I am sure his next book will be another fascinating read. Should he survive.....after publishing this extraordinarily frank account......!
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on 7 August 2013
My Father started his training in Perth the same year the author started in Hamble. Reading this book was like being in pub listening to him and all his collegues talk about the good old days. There was no such thing as the good old days. I could not put this book down. The author wanders off on tangents alot but this added to the charm to me. It can be hard to follow sometimes who it doing what unto whom but as many people in the book are still alive and libel law being what it is that is understandable. This book is a rollicking read, well worth a go. If you are easily offended by the views of people in the seventies there is nothing for you here.
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on 16 December 2012
I do not usually read biographies but this caught my eye and I really enjoyed it. I found it really funny in parts and it explained airline's and airplane's shortcomings in layman terms. His childhood was enchanting and his pilots training was both funny and scary. A really good read.
Danny
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on 9 September 2013
I've borrowed the wife's kindle whilst on holiday and saw this book reviewed, rather unfairly in my opinion, in the union "Log" magazine. I'm a generation behind the author but have had the pleasure of flying with many of his old Hamble colleagues when I was a first officer. It makes fascinating reading as I was unaware of the management culture that existed at the time - Perhaps O'Leary is not a new phenomenon.

As a new skipper in a major UK airline I could relate to the events and incidents and my view of the author changed from my initial perception of a rich aristocrat. I recommend this book to anyone in the industry. I do agree with the review that the book is written as if being told down the pub but in a way I preferred it this way. I've sat solidly for my first three days of holiday unable to put this down.
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on 17 January 2014
For almost a decade through the 70's into the 80's, i flew as a passenger , almost weekly across the then BEA network in Europe.
Since my time in the RAF during the 50's (yes i know that makes me ancient) i retained my love and interest in aviation.
However, I did not imagine that i was replicating some of my earlier experiences. For example the skipper saying on return from dispersal "i never thought that i was going to get her down"
So to read some of Ace's unvarnished experiences as a P3 or P2 , was a facinating read and thank heavens some of the lower orders had the poor old passengers best interests at heart.
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