In 1916 'Ward' Maclennan sailed from his native Canada to England where he enlisted as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps (forerunner to the RAF). In his diary, recently discovered in a university archive after almost 90 years, he recorded the daily trials and tribulations of learning to fly.
-The weather is seriously interfering with flying just now. Flying in the rain is decidedly unpleasant. At 80 miles per hour rain cuts into one-s face like hailstones and the accumulation of rain and oil on the goggles makes it hard to see. This morning, I had my goggles blow completely off in the air. I was lucky to make a successful grab at them just as they were disappearing overboard"
Anyone who has flown will recognise the highs and lows, the escapades and adventures of a young man discovering the freedom of flight. Funny, evocative and moving, his diary traces Maclennan's story from his first forays into the air in England at the dawn of the age of flight, through to the hostile skies over the Western Front.
This is a splendid little book, beautifully produced and nicely illustrated - it is an ideal stocking filler that can be read with pleasure and also sadness. It is a fitting and poignant tribute to a lost, patriotic and optimistic generation that Ward Maclennan's papers were retrieved from a library archive and are now being aired.
Flying in Ireland - Guy Warner
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