& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


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Brize 2010 Reds 3

By psmiddy, Oct 19 2017 09:40AM

An unashamed plug for the documentary series currently being shown on BBC4, The Vietnam War. I believe it was first broadcast on the History Channel. It is exceedingly well made, and a vitally important project. Left a few years later and it would not have been possible to record so many cogent interviews with players on both sides. It seems very even handed. I find it nostalgic to see the scenes of the US protest movement, which coloured my childhood and teens, and which provided such input to the folk and rock music that followed.

Highly recommended, and some salutary messages for those engaged in foreign wars.

By psmiddy, Oct 18 2017 04:28PM

Air Force Blue, from the production line that is Patrick Bishop. A slightly different slant on the RAF's evolution. Review here.

By psmiddy, Oct 16 2017 05:49PM

Reading (intermittently) the latest, and final, volume in the excellent Out of the Blue series – volumes of RAF yarns, sold for service charities. A vignette worth highlighting, from a Tornado GR1 pilot involved in the Serbian conflict a good few years ago:

“My wife has never really said much about it. Her only real gripe was the endless stream of VIPs they had to ‘glad-hand’ with, from politicians to Senior Officers (plus wives!) and Royalty alike. The only person she felt showed any empathy with them was George Robertson, the then Defence Secretary. The person she disliked the most was our Prime Minster who showed no sign of being vaguely interested!”

This was none other than Tony Blair, who was never shy of a) sending our boys to war, and b) hogging the limelight. The phrase oxygen thief springs to mind…..

By psmiddy, Oct 2 2017 07:10AM

So, to the surprise of few, Monarch Airlines has slipped into administration at 0300 today. Its owner, Greybull Capital, has a track record of buying basket cases, of which several disappear down a long and dark tube (think Comet, for example). Whilst the CAA garners plenty of brickbats for its at times heavy handed regulation of light aviation in this country, it is at moments such as this that the CAA deserves plaudits. At the time of writing it appears to have organized an operation to retrieve some 100,000 Monarch passengers stranded overseas. Good effort.

There is a little debate about whether they have the right type ratings to appeal to the pilot-hungry competitors: Monarch’s was an A321/320 fleet; Ryanair’s current well-publicised pilot shortage due to inept management is for B737 crew. But I would have thought the bulk of the flight crew will secure new jobs reasonably quickly - particularly if they are prepared to relocate to the Far East. The days of a pilot joining an airline at 20 and remaining in suburban splendor in England’s Thames Valley are long gone.

By psmiddy, Sep 25 2017 12:12PM

Unwinnable by Theo Farrell, published this month by Bodley Head. Terrific work of scholarship, that grips the reader throughout. Profoundly depressing too. Highly recommended. Review here.