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Fighting Cockpits

23 June 2016

Fighting Cockpits: in the Pilot’s Seat of Great Military Aircraft from World War I to Today, Donald Nijboer with photography by Dan Patterson, 2016, ISBN 978-0-7603-4956-4, 224 pp.

Fighting Cockpits: in the Pilot's Seat of Great Military Aircraft from World War I to Today by Donald Nijboer with photography by Dan Patterson

Fighting Cockpits: in the Pilot’s Seat of Great Military Aircraft from World War I to Today by Donald Nijboer with photography by Dan Patterson

What aviation fan, historian or participant does not wish to sit in cockpits of historical aircraft? To become part of its space? To be ensconced within its environment?

Fighting Cockpits delivers this and much more. The supreme photography by Dan Patterson sets the standard for this type of illustration and Donald Nijboer’s writing places each of the 51 cockpits, from aircraft of several countries, into context by grouping the airplanes into one of four significant categories. Pilot impressions accompany most aircraft and are enlightening as they provide information not usually found written elsewhere.

Each cockpit has its own chapter and the chapters are segregated into these four groups:

  • Wind in the Wires
  • The Rise of the Monoplane
  • Death at 30,000 Feet
  • Mutually Assured Destruction

Fighting Cockpits has insights, as well, which are best illustrated by the many aircraft cockpit descriptions contained within the book. Cockpit ergonomics is one such thread supported by the author as well as many pilot observations. Details which enhance the vicarious experience of the cockpit visitations spice the text with warmth and excitement. Readers learn of major differences between World War I German cockpits and this of Great Britain’s designs—as well as similarities. Readers also learn of the onset, during World War II, and development of cockpit ergonomics from many voices as well as how important that aspect of design can be. Pilot observations are salient—where to take care not to step, improper placement of critical handles, the operation of the first ejection seat designs—to name only a few.

Of special note are the writings of Capt. Eric “Winkle” Brown in the forward as well as in several cockpit descriptions. Capt. Brown not only flew more types of aircraft than other pilot, he flew an immense variety including many World War II aircraft (both Axis as well as Allied). His cockpit and flying analyses go beyond many other assessments since his experience shown in comparison of types is wonderfully informative and descriptive. He passed away recently (post publishing) so the authors didn’t have the opportunity to note his passing at a grand old age—kudos to them for enlisting his help in producing this fine book.

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Zenith Press provided a copy of Fighting Cockpits: in the Pilot’s Seat of Great Military Aircraft from World War I to Today, as is the publishing custom, for an objective review.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. shortfinals permalink
    23 June 2016 13:46

    Ahhh! Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, the late, beloved Patron of The People’s Mosquito. What a man! Whenever I spoke with him he made me laugh out loud for the sheer joy of it! We all miss him, terribly

    On Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 1:00 AM, Travel for Aircraft wrote:

    > travelforaircraft posted: “Fighting Cockpits: in the Pilot’s Seat of > Great Military Aircraft from World War I to Today, Donald Nijboer with > photography by Dan Patterson, 2016, ISBN 978-0-7603-4956-4, 224 pp. What > aviation fan, historian or participant does not wish to sit in” >

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