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When F-16 pilot Scott O'Grady was shot down over Bosnia, a rescue mission was launched immediately. It involved nearly 100 aircraft, but succeeded in plucking him to safety in broad daylight. The pilot of the only F-117 Stealth bomber to have ever been shot down was spirited away with equal success. The USAF's elite special Operations Group is the product of many years of hard experience, but only now is it possible to reveal how many of its most famous missions were conducted.
Major Mike McKinney and Mike Ryan investigate the origins of the Special Operations Group and the experience of early rescue missions in Vietnam. The grisly fate awaiting captured American fliers spurred the USAF to develop new weapons and tactics to fight their way through intense enemy anti-aircraft fire. Sometimes the rescue of a single man would escalate into a major military operation - one was later filmed as BAT-21 starring Gene Hackman and Danny Glover. If the ultimate Vietnam rescue mission, the Son Tay raid, was a failure, it did demonstrate how far techniques and equipment had evolved.
From disaster at Desert 1 to the Gulf War, Bosnia and the tragedy in Somalia, Chariots of the Damned takes you on an edge of the seat ride into some of the most incredible battles of recent times.
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Major Mike McKinney is an instructor pilot in the US Air Force who currently flies the MH-53 Pave Low. He has over 2,500 hours in the UH-1H, UH-1N and the MH-53 and has participated in operations Restore Democracy in Haiti (1994), Deliberate Force in Bosnia (1995), and with the Allied Force in Kosovo (1999). He has served with the 20th SOS at Hurlburt Field and 21st SOS at RAF Mildenhall, UK. He lives in Florida with his wife, Sherry, son AJ and daughter Rachel.
Mike Ryan is the President of the American advanced concepts company Avpro Aerospace. He has co-authored two other aviation books, Warplanes of the Future and X-Planes. He frequently appears on TV as a defense and aerospace expert and is a technical consultant to the film industry. Ryan serves in the British reserve forces as an army officer. He is married with two children.
Low and slow, a military helicopter is vulnerable to any enemy with a rifle, and that lethal hazard to the pilot is what ties together these dozen-plus war stories. The strength author McKinney brings to his book is his military experience flying one of the machines that frequently figures in these narratives, the H-53. He and his coauthor inject much technical material about the capabilities of various models of helicopters, acronym-heavy details that may lack drama but are critical to success or disaster in combat operations. McKinney also aims to impress upon the reader the skill, nerve, and will of the pilot who flies into heavy fire. This combination of technology and courage structures the stories but, unfortunately, never quite succeeds in raising this work's literary level. Practically all the reader learns about the pilots who died is their bravery and their rank. Still, readers have much to admire in these renditions of the helicopter's role in American missions from the Son Tay raid of 1970 to recent rescue operations in the Balkans. Gilbert Taylor
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