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The smell of kerosene: A test pilot's odyssey (The NASA history series)
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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.
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.
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
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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