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Feet Wet: Reflections of a Carrier Pilot by…
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Feet Wet: Reflections of a Carrier Pilot

by Paul T. Gillcrist

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Rear Admiral Paul T. Gillchrist (Ret.) published a memoir of his years as an aircraft carrier pilot. Gillchrist, whose career spans most of the years since the end of WW II, has an engaging style. The book contains numerous short vignettes describing memorable events. Ny favorite is the story of his trip with a sidewinder rattlesnake in the cockpit of an F9F-8 Cougar (single engine fighter). He had been asked to ferry a box taped shut with masking tape back to the base. This was a routine request as they were training in the desert and samples of small desert specimens such as horned toads were taken back to serve as examples of wildlife the pilots might encounter if forced to bailout. During a routine flight maneuver as he was on final approach, he knocked the box to the floor which then popped open. To his horror he saw a confused but furious rattlesnake getting ready to strike. He immediately threw the plane into a violent turn to flatten the snake against the wall. After several tries he managed to prop the control stick between his knees, grab the box, throw the plane into another vicious turn which threw the snake across the cockpit into the box, most of it anyway. He managed to stuff the tail into the box and reseal it, only to discover that he was passing over the control tower upside down with the air controllers screaming at him. They were sure he was suffering from an epileptic seizure. Too embarrassed to admit what happened he simply replied he had a small malfunction and landed routinely.

Or, there was the time he and his squadron were forced to practice football on the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier, a singularly unpleasant experience as the deck was made of metal. The team persuaded the coach to let them practice on the flight deck which was constructed of wood and softer, sort of. Twelve long passes later, 12 footballs had been lost over the side, and there was no more practice for the rest of the tour. "The coach was beside himself." Needless to say some of the stories are not at all humorous as he recounts numerous disasters and near misses. His descriptions of landing on a carrier at night are hair-raising and vivid. I do object to his obvious enjoyment at delivering napalm exactly on target. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
The story of a naval aviator who went from flying F6F Hellcats to F14 Tomcats. Great stories of carrier landings and the responsibilities of a Naval pilot. He suffered vast injuries in several crashes and continued flying.
  kaki5231 | Sep 8, 2012 |
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