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Eject! Eject!

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The fact that he’d never designed or built a plane and had never even flown did not seem to deter him.

He has written for The Times, The Mail on Sunday and The Observer and is a widely quoted commentator on military affairs. We see how the technology was adapted when the prospect of crashing in North Vietnam was sometimes preferable to ejecting and risking capture; what happens to the body when it is catapulted from an aircraft under great force; how an ejectee can be rescued from enemy territory.

During 15 years service in the Royal Air Force John Nichol served as a technician and, after being commissioned from the ranks, as a Tornado Navigator in both the Air Defence and Ground Attack roles. He has made a number of TV documentaries with Second World War veterans, written for national newspapers and magazines, and is a widely quoted commentator on military affairs. Packed with interviews with aircrew who know exactly how it feels to ‘Bang Out’ from an aircraft at high speed, both in peace and in war, the book gives the reader a vivid sense of what that life-saving experience feels like, but also features the moving accounts of what happens next, from the viewpoint of both the crews and their families, who often have little or no information about whether or not their loved ones have survived.

A few days later, having been beaten and tortured, images of Nichol and his pilot John Peters were broadcast around the world.

The story is chronological from the early days of the seats being developed- a ripping yarn in itself, with some fantastic characters testing them- and then moves forward through several aerial conflicts, and other incidents in between. Nichol tells the story of the brave men who risked their lives testing those early devices, and interviewed the first British pilot to eject back in 1949, when ejection, from pulling the handle to being under the parachute, took thirty seconds. John is the bestselling co-author of Tornado Down and author of many highly acclaimed epics, including Spitfire, Lancaster and Tornado, all of which were Sunday Times bestsellers. It was partly due to the death of Squadron Leader William Davie, a 25-year-old test pilot who died after attempting to bail out of his Gloster Meteor in August 1943 – plummeting through the roof of a hangar at Farnborough – that prompted the Air Ministry finally to commission Martin to come up with a workable British system. before Monday 22nd May to be entered into The Tornado Lottery, a chance to win a colour printed large-format 4 x 6 feet banner of John Nichol's previous book 'Tornado'.

John is the best-selling author of Tornado Down, five novels, and the highly acclaimed WWII history books, The Last Escape, Tail-End Charlies and Home Run. Sadly, although I chose it because I was fascinated by modern ejection-seat technology , it was the human stories that achieved most impact on me. Captured, tortured and held as a prisoner of war, John was paraded on television, provoking worldwide condemnation and leaving one of the most enduring images of the conflict. Since those first post-Second World War ejections, many tens of thousands of lives have been saved by increasingly sophisticated escape systems. No one would ever want to have to use an ejection seat, but thank goodness some people have – and have lived to tell the tale.Nichol tells the remarkable tale of how the ejection seat was first conceived during the Second World War as countless lives were lost in accidents and in battle. As the author has had to be diplomatic in some areas, feelings run deep and memories are long, the book has a feel of 'now it can be told' just not completely. While I can see that the ejectees are the focus, there was a similar slant to 'Spitfire' and particularly, 'Lancaster'- these are books that are clearly written by a flyer, about other flyers, and the people on the ground could do with a little more mention. I’ve read much of the author’s work, and while not wanting to discredit his earlier productions in any way, his more recent books have really stepped up to the next level as his writing style has evolved.

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