Chris Taylor has had a very successful career as a Royal Navy officer, helicopter pilot, test pilot and instructor. His first book, Test Pilot, concentrates on anecdotes and incidents from the most recent phase of his career. His second book, Experimental Test Pilot, is an account of his ten years’ service as an experimental test pilot, from 1994 until 2004, at MoD Boscombe Down, the UK’s tri-Service home of military aircraft testing and evaluation.
Written in the same humorous manner as his previous books, Naval Aviator explains why Chris wanted to become a pilot and how he achieved that through the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm. Following the, perhaps misleading, advice of his local careers office, Chris joined the Royal Navy on a University Cadetship which required him to serve initially as a watchkeeping and navigation officer before he could sub-specialise as a Westland Wasp and subsequently a Westland Lynx pilot. This book covers each appointment or ship that Chris served in, and provides a ‘no holds barred’ account of the many life-threatening and stressful situations he faced, not least working with, and for, some unhelpful if not outright unreasonable colleagues.
The operating environment of a small ship’s flight is graphically described, including flying in extremely poor weather conditions and high sea states in order to ‘get the job done’. His ditching of a Wasp during training and then damaging his helicopter at sea is fully documented. In addition to numerous close calls as an aviator, Chris is unusual in being involved in four major collisions at sea. For one of these collisions he was the officer responsible for conning or ‘driving’ the ship and, despite his best efforts, his ship rammed a German Frigate in thick fog in the Baltic. Serving on a Hong Kong Patrol boat he had numerous encounters with armed Chinese patrol boats and soldiers; as a Fishery Protection Officer he was attacked with an acetylene blow torch and kidnapped by a French trawler; as a Wasp pilot he almost singlehandedly had to protect the Royal Yacht from the threat of Libyan gunboats; as a Lynx pilot he won the day in numerous major international exercises around the world and served for a month on detachment to a Dutch frigate.
All of these accidents, incidents and adventures are fully described set alongside the challenges of trying to maintain a normal domestic life. Naval Aviator accurately captures the ups and downs of life as a Royal Navy Officer and Fleet Air Arm pilot of the Cold War and will be a good read for anyone interested in naval or aviation history. It is also an ideal book for aviators, aspiring aviators, service veterans and anyone who is considering such a career.
Author(s): Chris Taylor
First Publishment Date: 22 September 2023