Geoffrey Regan: The Guiness book of Flying Blunders, a jpoc book review

Too many errors and too much politics

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JPOC rating

Two out of ten. There are too many errors and the author seems to care more for matters of politics than for flying.

JPOC's review

What else do you need to know about an aviation book written by a man who thinks that stalling an aircraft means that the engine stops?

For me, this error was compounded in a later passage on the mistaken bombing, by the USAF, of the Swiss town of Schaffhausen. The author states that Schaffhausen lies on the East bank of the Rhine. In the vicinity of Schaffhausen, the Rhine flows from East to West so, it has North and South banks and not an East bank. When I come across things like this I have to say that every other factual statement in the book must be in doubt.

This book is really a lightweight skim through the history of aerial warfare with emphasis on the mistakes that were made. Of course, this is a fairly easy target as military aviation is a rapidly developing area and so mistakes are common.

Trying to discount errors like the ones mentioned above, the writing style is OK and the author does choose a number of interesting events.

The book starts off with a token section on the era before the first world war.

The sections devoted to that war, the inter-war years and the post 1945 period are quite short. Fully half of the book is devoted to the years of World War Two.

Unfortunately, once coverage reaches the second war, the author seems to forget what he is actually writing about. Half of the section discusses the politics of area bombing. The author then moves on to discuss the errors in the planning of parachute operations leaving the reader to wonder where have the aeroplanes gone.

I am always suspicious of books which are published under different titles. This book has appeared as a book of "Flying" blunders and as a book of "Air Force" blunders. The latter title is more accurate as the book contains nothing about civilian flying and indeed, much of the content is about military matters that do not actually include flying.