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Best Vietnam Helicopter Book


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Greetings fellow rotorheads. I'm looking for a new book to read and I'm looking for suggestions. Just finished a book called "Fighter Pilot" about legondary Air Force ace Robin Olds, very interesting book but I need to read another helicopter book to balance things out. I have read the book "Firebirds" by Chuck Carlock and really enjoyed it, though it was outstanding. I have heard good things about "Chickenhawk", but I just don't think I'd be interested in reading a book that a man wrote who went to jail trying to smugle mary jane. Any suggestions??

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Low Level Hell by Hugh L. Mills is a good one by a loach pilot

 

CW2 by Layne Heath is good too, air cav

 

Maverick by Dennis Marvicsin is excellent, slick pilot turned cobra pilot

 

Other good ones outside of Vietnam are

 

A Mild Form of Insanity: Recollections of a Helicopter Pilot by Mike Tuson

 

The Night Stalkers and In the Company of Heroes both by Michael Durant I would highly recommend if you like military flying stories.

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Chickenhawk is among the best. Forget what you may have heard about him smuggling once he was done with Nam...he did do this, but he ONLY talks about his Nam experience in Chickenhawk...and it puts you right in the PIC seat with him...highly recommended......and....also consider Blackhawk Down. Although Blackhawk is NOT strictly speaking a flight book, it does give a great deal of insight into the use of the helo and its flight. BlackHawk is also very well written, and just a great read as well, for all the other, non-flying parts of the story. Enjoy-)))

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Rattler One Seven - written by Chuck Gross. I personally know Chuck and acquired a copy of book. Its very well written and easy to read. Chuck is a flight instructor here in Nashville TN.

 

Rattler One-Seven puts you in the helicopter seat, to see the war in Vietnam through the eyes of an inexperienced pilot as he transforms himself into a seasoned combat veteran.

When Chuck Gross left for Vietnam in 1970, he was a nineteen-year-old army helicopter pilot fresh out of flight school. He spent his entire Vietnam tour with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company flying UH-1 Huey helicopters. Soon after the war he wrote down his adventures, while his memory was still fresh with the events. Rattler One-Seven (his call sign) is written as Gross experienced it, using these notes along with letters written home to accurately preserve the mindset he had while in Vietnam.

During his tour Gross flew Special Operations for the MACV-SOG, inserting secret teams into Laos. He notes that Americans were left behind alive in Laos, when official policy at home stated that U.S. forces were never there. He also participated in Lam Son 719, a misbegotten attempt by the ARVN to assault and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail with U.S. Army helicopter support. It was the largest airmobile campaign of the war and marked the first time that the helicopter was used in mid-intensity combat, with disastrous results.

Pilots in their early twenties, with young gunners and a Huey full of ARVN soldiers, took on experienced North Vietnamese antiaircraft artillery gunners, with no meaningful intelligence briefings or a rational plan on how to cut the Trail. More than one hundred helicopters were lost and more than four hundred aircraft sustained combat damage. Gross himself was shot down and left in the field during one assault.

Rattler One-Seven will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War and to all armed forces, especially aviators, who have served for their country.

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Ive also read ChickenHawk and I have to agree with everyone else. Read the book, despite what he did after the war. Chickenhawk is unique because he was one of the first major units in Nam. After reading the chapter about Lam Son Valley, I had to go watch "We were soliders" immediately.

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Right on, I appreciate it guys. I'm reading CW2 right now, then I'll pick up Chickenhawk for sure. I love reading about Vietnam Helicopter flying. It's just so amazing how these young guys learned how to fly such a complex machine in combat. When I'm flying around Colorado, I think about what it would be like to make an approach into KBJC under fire, and it completely humbles me.

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Right on, I appreciate it guys. I'm reading CW2 right now, then I'll pick up Chickenhawk for sure. I love reading about Vietnam Helicopter flying. It's just so amazing how these young guys learned how to fly such a complex machine in combat. When I'm flying around Colorado, I think about what it would be like to make an approach into KBJC under fire, and it completely humbles me.

 

I'm probably going to be kicked out of Valhalla for telling you this, but luck had a lot more to do with success than skill ever did. But it also seems to me that I was probably never as good as I remember being...

 

There is no "best Vietnam helicopter book". There are some very good ones that illustrate one guy's experience in different facets. Slick drivers had a mission that was very different from a Loach pilot's, which was different from a Gun driver (and that varies with Snake or UH-1 B/C/M airframes) or a Dustoff or Hook guy's in-country life. Not to mention the Navy, Marines and Air Force...

Different periods were also very different experiences, my year was between Tet and Lam Son 719. Pretty much all the real good bad guys and their ammo was used up in the former and not there yet for the latter. I had relatively uneventful tour in my opinion, although Novosel found enough trouble then to earn the Medal of Honor right next door to me.

 

Don't slam "Chickenhawk" because of the author's later life. It's well written, while perhaps no better than all the others but it is superior some I've read. It is certainly the best titled of all, even if it's not the best book.

 

Anybody read a good crew narrative? The crew chief and gunner were the yeomanry, largely unsung heroes...

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Nice, yeah so far CW2 is very narrative. It's good, but a lot different than Firebirds. And I appreciate the input Wally. It's just that you hear all about these books and you never know what actually happened and how much they made up. But I think I have a great list of books to keep me busy for a while now. Besides, I shouldn't be reading anything but my FAR and FOI at this point. Wally, where do you fly for Air Methods?

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Nice, yeah so far CW2 is very narrative. It's good, but a lot different than Firebirds. And I appreciate the input Wally. It's just that you hear all about these books and you never know what actually happened and how much they made up. But I think I have a great list of books to keep me busy for a while now. Besides, I shouldn't be reading anything but my FAR and FOI at this point. Wally, where do you fly for Air Methods?

 

When they they let me, I fly out of the Gainesville base (38GA.).

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Don't pass on Chickenhawk, there's a reason why it is still being printed since '84, I read it back then and several times since. Met Bob Mason by chance at an airshow, just conversing with the fellow over RC helicopters after admiring his performance with his. I didn't recognize him, after sharing background in the army, he nudged his friend and asked me if I had read that book and exclaimed that he wrote it.

Prejudging him over a single faux paus in life is selling him short, doesn't do the man justice and hardly a correct picture of his charactor.

I've read most of the books listed on this post, Chickenhawk remains my favorite, oddly as it may seem, his description of his initial learning experience at the controls of an H23 at 'Wolters, prepared me for my first experience at the controls of a helicopter, I credit him for being able to hover on the initial lesson!

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  • 6 months later...

I just saw this thread for the first time, thanks to Paul, and after reading all of the recommendations, I picked up Chickenhawk from the library this weekendend and couldn't put it down!

 

One of my favorite parts was when he described being loaded down, milking the collective and using a right pedal turn in order to get over a barbed wire fence surrounding a mine field that they were stuck in.

 

Since Vietnam is more recent hisotry it always seemed like we never quite got there in history class when we inevitably fell behind throuhout the year. And I was a bit too young for most of the 'classic' Vietnam movies when they came out. But after reading Chickenhawk I've already had a couple of fascinating conversations with a coworker and my wife's grandfather who were both there. It's gone from feeling like something just in the history books to something that actually happened...

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