Excerpt from Horses Don't Fly by Frederick Libby, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

Horses Don't Fly

by Frederick Libby

Horses Don't Fly
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2000, 274 pages
    Jan 2002, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Reality has returned. I am standing up wondering how soon Father will show up. The beautiful white shirt is no more. The big white collar is torn half off. Green grass covers the front of my shirt and suit. One stocking is down, the other is torn and there is a large rip in the pants leg. My head hurts like the dickens and my left eye feels like it is shutting. Worst of all, it is beginning to dawn on me that I haven't gone to Sunday school.

Chapter Seventeen
I Join The Royal Air Force

"Libby, we are glad to see you. This won't take long, it is only routine. We will take your weight and height first."

"Do you know anything about aeroplanes?" Absolutely nothing, I answered. "What makes you think you can fly?" I don't know, I have never been near a plane. "Can you ride a horse?" Now, what a horse had to do with flying I didn't know, as horses don't fly, but here I was on safe ground, so I assured the colonel I was an expert with horses......

Major Ross Hume says, "Welcome to the Twenty-third Squadron, Libby. Libby, we need observers. This is Lieutenant Price and Lieutenant Hicks, both of whom are in need of a good observer. What do you know about a machine gun?" Up to now no one has mentioned machine guns, so, when I assure the major I know nothing, he shows no shock, but immediately tells the sergeant major to take me to the gunnery sergeant for a half hour of instruction and shooting on the gun range......

This doesn't seem possible. I left my base at seven-thirty, it is now ten-thirty, and if his orders work out, hell, I could well be dead by noon......

The ship that was rolled out was the pusher type, with the propeller in the rear. The pilot was in front of the motor in the middle of the ship and the observer in front of the pilot. When you stood, all of you from the knees up was exposed to the world. There was no belt and nothing to hold on to except the gun and sides of the nacelle......

Between the observer and pilot was another gun, which was for the purpose of fighting a rear-run action over the top wing to protect your tail.....

My instructions are, when we turn back toward the field and come within range of a red petrol tin which Lt. Price shows me on the way out to take off, to shoot the tin in bursts from the gun, then to change drums and repeat the performance once more, then land.

All this is old hat to the lieutenant, but not to me, who one hour before had never had my hand on a plane, and have had my first contact with a machine gun a few minutes previous. I'm flat on my bottom for the take-off, then I am supposed to either stand or get on my knees to be in position to shoot on our way back. This I am preparing to do, when he throws the ship in a steep bank to turn. I almost swallow my tongue, and my eyes are full of tears, for I have no goggles, so we fly over and past the target, which I don't even see.

This I know is very bad, a very poor showing on my part.......

As Price makes his second trip toward the target, I am in position with the gun pointed where I think the target will show up. This it does and I press the trigger and can see the petrol tin bounce and roll over - how could one miss with forty-seven rounds? - as I forget and let the whole works go......

Chapter Twenty
Back To France As An Officer

We have just returned from my first big show, we along with some sixty other fighter ships acting as escort to thirty-six bombers. The bombers are converted artillery B.E.2c, which have no observer so they can carry more bombs, and are completely dependent on their escorts for protection. The escort consists of F.E.2b, D.H.2, single-seater scouts, Nieuports, a few Martinsydes and F.E.8, the escorts outnumbering the bombers two to one. Our targets are the Douai and Cambrai air fields. The bombers going over are strung out in tandem, one following the other, their mission to drop the bombs and back for home as fast as possible. Their altitude is approximately seven thousand. We of the escort range from eight to ten thousand. Our A and B Flights of Eleven Squadron catch the front end of the bombers going over, where we escort them to their target, then return with the last bombers leaving the target, which gives the Hun ample time to get altitude and catch us going back.

Copyright Frederick Libby. For permission to reprint this excerpt please contact horsesdon'tfly.com

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.


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.