"Fire on the flight deck!" Ominous words when living on an aircraft carrier hundreds of miles at sea. An American supercarrier flight deck is considered by many to be one of the most dangerous places on Earth; multi-million dollar aircraft launching, landing, and taxiing in the space of a few football fields, all orchestrated by a control tower and flight deck crew whose average age is 19.
During the Cold War of the 1980s, this massive ship provided the largest, mobile weapon in the United States arsenal, instilling fear and respect among opposing forces. While the supercarrier can deliver an awesome display of firepower, it carries an inherent danger for those who fly and work among the aircraft.
Brian Donley survived boot camp and completed aircraft firefighter school to serve as a yellow shirt on the flight deck of the USS William Halsey. Would his training, will, and courage equip him for the most challenging day of his life?
Darren Sapp's breakout novel delivers the sights, sounds, and action of a supercarrier. He served in the inaugural flight deck crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as a crash crew member and yellow shirt aircraft director.
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"It isn't just a job, it's an adventure."
There are numerous stories about recruits joining the military, going through boot camp and then embarking on some great adventure, usually a war. Some are excellent, all slightly different. What makes this one exceptional is that it has been based on the real life experiences of the author who chose, rather than write an autobiography, to give a fictional rendering of his early naval career in the dangerous environment of the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. His dedication alone indicates the danger of the job - to two colleagues who died.
It is unusual, too, in not putting his ship into an attack situation, no enemies or aliens besiege his craft. Not needed: the universal enemy of fire out of control where there is no way to run is terrifying enough. Starting at an easy pace, the book is fascinating by detail given about the main character', Brian, signing up whilst still at school, being put through training and skillfully picturing the others who trained, then later worked, alongside him: friendships formed and odd grievances held. After all, as he says, "We were 19. We were bad." But working on the flight deck they had to grow up fast. The latter part of the book equals, or surpasses, any other fictional military battle i have read.
The whole is beautifully related by Patrick Freeman, who becomes Brian, the teenager turning into man on board the USS William Halsey in 1987. Freeman's steady narration is perfectly paced and matched to the text, his rendering of other voices also distinctive and fitting. His performance enhances this emotionally charged and detailed story.
My thanks to the rights holder for gifting me my copy of Fire on the Flight Deck, via Audiobook Boom. I had expected it to be interesting. I had no idea how much this book would absorb me. "Every day might be our last on earth". We would do well to remember this and those people who do their very best to ensure that others can live, even at the expense of their own lives.
My compliments to the author for this fascinating, exciting and well written book.
- Norma Miles