Black Aces High
Robert Wilcox
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Buy *Black Aces High: The Story of a Modern Fighter Squadron at War* online

Black Aces High: The Story of a Modern Fighter Squadron at War
Robert Wilcox
Thomas Dunne Books
320 pages
October 2002
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The Black Aces are a group of naval aviators whose history and bravery in military actions are respected and honored throughout the world. A former United States Air Force Information Officer, author Robert Wilcox spent a number of weeks with this elite group while they completed a mission over Kosovo in 1999.

This action-filled true narrative is much more than a history of an aviator group, though. While it is that, at its heart it is the story of a group of men who flew the F-14 Tomcats as they sought to find and destroy enemy movements and weapons buried deep within the mountainous regions of old Yugoslavia. In order to complete their missions, the squadron was often forced to bend some rules and literally place themselves under enemy fire to accomplish their goals. The squadron was rewarded for their daring tenacity with the Navyís McClusky Trophy.

This account plucks the reader out of the armchair and transports them into the cockpit of an F-14, causing the blood to race and the spirits to rise. The authorís gift of describing the thunderous roar of the engines, the peril of flying over enemy encampments, and the fear of being fired upon is indelibly implanted upon the reader as they accompany these Tomcat pilots into the air.

Author Wilcox brings the lives and risks of these fighting men to into three-dimensional living color as the reader experiences the gamut of emotions the squadron faces. Countless interviews with crew members and Wilcox's own eyewitness accounts while aboard the USS Roosevelt enable Wilcox to expertly tell it like it is, no holds barred. He not only writes about the preparations for war, he writes about the missions themselves, the raids, attacks and firefights experienced by the squadron. Once begun, Black Aces High compels the reader on the mission along with the F-14 pilots, to experience every emotion felt by those pilots.

Exciting narrative, detailed explanations and the author's ability to delve inside the skins of the aces provides not only a thrilling read, but also a patriotic sense of duty, pride and honor that lingers long after the last page is turned. Extensive research and detailed descriptions of methods and battle strategy while in the air make for informative reading as well, though the best part of the narrative is the glimpses into the personalities of the men who guide these powerful craft through the air.

© 2003 by Denise M. Clark for Curled Up With a Good Book

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