Excerpt from Air Warriors by Douglas C. Waller, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Air Warriors

The Inside Story of the Making of a Navy Pilot

by Douglas C. Waller

Air Warriors
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 1998, 496 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 1999, 255 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"You're not from the 'hood," his black classmates would taunt. "You don't know us."

"You're right, I don't," McKinney would answer back. What he didn't say was that he also didn't care. People automatically assumed he shared a common heritage and background with African-Americans because of the color of his skin. But he had never felt that bond. He came from a yuppie black family whose mother and father were well educated. The niche blacks expected him to occupy was alien to him. He never felt as comfortable with the African-Americans as he did with other cultures. It had rules of behavior, standards of conduct expected of him -- hip, jive, slow walk, Ebonics -- with which he had no experience and didn't care to have. He shared no sense of history with his black brothers. If he ever took the time to investigate, he thought he'd probably discover three or four generations of race mixing among his ancestors.

McKinney enrolled in Georgia Tech University at age sixteen and majored in civil engineering. The school was his second choice. A congressional appointment for the Naval Academy would have been no problem if he had been older, but the academy didn't accept sixteen-year-olds. He was even too young to qualify for a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship at Georgia Tech. But for as long as he could remember, McKinney had wanted to be an astronaut. He would go crazy if he had a job where he had to sit behind a desk all his life. He wanted to fly. And in the beginning, not just any plane. He had his future carefully plotted. He would fly F/A-18 Hornets, the Navy's premier attack fighter for the future. Fast but not too fast. Easy to handle, seasoned pilots had told him, the best ticket for being accepted into the NASA program. Space shuttle pilots had to have experience in tactical jets.

McKinney thought his chances of becoming an astronaut were good -- simply because he was willing to do anything to achieve the goal. The only roadblock in his way was a phrase that haunted every student pilot -- "the needs of the Navy." Practically all his classmates at Pensacola wanted to fly the glamour carrier jets, the F/A-18s or F-14s. But the Navy had more than a dozen different types of aircraft -- jets, propeller-driven planes, helicopters -- some of which never landed on an aircraft carrier. Students were assigned to them based on their performance and even more importantly on what the Navy needed at any given time to fill cockpits. What a student wanted to fly was a secondary consideration. McKinney prayed that the Navy wouldn't suddenly need a lot of helicopter pilots when he finished flight school. He had heard of an astronaut who had begun his Naval career as a helicopter pilot, then had managed to transfer to jets in order to qualify for the shuttle program. But such moves were rare. Navy pilots were usually stuck for the rest of their flying careers with the planes they were assigned from flight school. Anything less than tactical jets would derail his dream of being an astronaut.

Men and women became officers in the Navy usually in one of three ways: through the Naval Academy, Naval ROTC in college, or Officer Candidate School. Since McKinney had been too young for the academy or ROTC, he entered OCS as soon as he graduated from Georgia Tech, which took four and a half years in order to complete its more demanding engineering degree. OCS, which for flight candidates was held at Pensacola, was designed to be a culture shock for youngsters whose only discipline in the past came from mom and dad. Males' heads were shaved. Females kept their hair cropped short. OCS candidates wore baggy green fatigue pants, T-shirts, Nike running shoes, silver helmets that rattled on their heads, and a thousand-mile stare from little sleep and constant movement.

McKinney was the type of person who always blew things up in his own mind, always a worrier. By the time he reported Sunday morning for the first day of OCS, he was petrified of what was about to happen to him.

Copyright © 1998 by Douglas C. Waller

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guineveres
    The Guineveres
    by Sarah Domet
    It's a human need to know one's own identity, to belong to someone, to yearn for a place ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.