Lions of the Sky
Creating suspense and holding the lives of many in your hands you can feel the tension and the fear as a pilot takes hold of the instruments, goes up in the air and hopes that the outcome will be positive. Lions in the Sky is a dramatization of naval aviation at its highest level. The author is a fighter pilot and you can feel his excitement within the novel as the jets fly and the aircraft carriers are air born and the characters take on the cockpit of these fighter jets for the first time. But nothing comes without practice, education and of course competition, success and failure. From the start of the novel when we meet the main character, we learn that he is about to complete teaching his last class and then go back into the fleet. The competition is fierce, but his bubble is burst when asked to teach one more and from the moment we meet the recruits you can feel the competition and the hopes that each one will soar and come out ahead of the rest.
Sam Richardson is a strong character with high standards and will not take anything less than commitment and perfection. His role is the make sure that all of the recruits are greeted when they arrive and at the F/A 18 training squadron and hope that they are ready for the rigorous exercises, the reading that they have to absorb in a short time and understand that the competition is stiff and the accuracy of their simulations and their flights has to be on point. But not everyone is successful, and every flight requires physical acuity and each academic test and every flight plus physical fitness tests and medical exams as you will read is an opportunity for success or failure. Training rules must be adhered to and guidelines are designed to reign in the student’s desire to win every fight and to preserve a measure of safety in each aspect. Sam Richardson is there to make sure that they succeed, and he sets the tone with his example and yet he is understanding to a point, able to be approached and not much older than the students. But experience speaks for itself.
Keely Silvers is one of the students and she seems to be tenacious, overzealous at times, confrontational and knows that the cockpit is her home and that’s where she belongs. But, when you take part in her first simulation and she learns that there would be opposition to her becoming a fighter pilot, she has to deal with gender discrimination, other fighter pilots that would like to see her fail, have the need to defend herself. The first time out she scores two below levels and yet one other candidate: Dusty scores two above. This bothers her and the confrontation lets you know that there will be more in the future. She is overconfident at times and she seems to feel that she can overcome any obstacles in her way. You can tell that the need for survival, advancement, prejudice, gender prejudice and drive to become a fighter pilot comes though in every aspect of this novel and in the students that succeed.
The characters in this novel are competitive. Keely Quick Silver, Lexi Dusty Rhodes, JT my favorite and Sam Richardson. The characters each have his/her own crosses to bear and each one has their own goals in mind as Sam wants out of teaching these classes and back in action but even though there is a serious situation with China and a missing plane, he’s required to stay the course. Tempers flash and tensions rise before the final scenes come into play.
When the basic part of the training is completed things get tense between Dusty and Quick and tempers flare. Each one wants to be a part of the Lions and when they both are chosen the competition is fierce. Their goal however is to take down whatever is happening with China and the missing plane. Added in Slammer and his team are afraid of what will happen in Vietnam if their operation goes South and the President and Joint Chief of Staffs wants them ready and able to deflect and defuse whatever the Chinese have in mind. After all they want to take over the oil industry and have been hoping to be number one for a long time. But, with tempers flaring in all directions, JT and Dusty going at it, friendships are frayed and even Quick or Kelly finds herself isolated at times, what will the outcome be as they are now part of Lions in the Sky?
Then things get tense and someone’s life is lost which takes its toll on Dusty and changes Quick’s perspective of her life and her career choice but things have a way of moving on and someone close to everyone is gone but the situation in China needs to be addressed.
When the sides were decided and the mission in place the author takes us into battle between Slammer, Rhino, Lips, Quick and the entire fleet. The Chinese are quick and their stealth quite good but will his team and the others in command be able to stop what the Chinese have in mind. Take your position on the ship and then on each of the fighter planes as the Lions take it up and the Chinese fighters were obscured by the black curtain of smoke but are, they down and out? Join the battle and watch as Quick and Slammer fight for their lives and that of the others on their team but which side will prevail and will Quick make the grade? The ending leads you to believe that there is much more to come and will Slammer finally join the fleet or will something change his course. Where will they all wind up and what will be his next mission? Characters and events vividly described and an author that uses his personal experience in every mission, battle and throughout the book. For anyone that is interested in this field this is the right book for you. Just who will be the final ones as Lions of the Sky?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews
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