Book Review: Forest Fire Bomber’s Personal Experience

book review
by decor8

Book Review: Forest Fire Bomber’s Personal Experience

Attention all aviation buffs, serious pilots and anyone with a special interest in flying and truly living on the edge. Fire Bomber Into Hell, by Linc W. Alexander, is so detailed it could easily be mistaken for a fire bomber’s manual-just looking at the table of contents would give one that first impression. While so precisely detailed in its description of the various aircraft used in the business and the immense measures taken to tackle a massive forest fire, it is entertaining. While Mr. Alexander is serious about his business, he has a sense of humor. Each chapter has it’s own witty opening quote relevant to the subject matter.

Firefighting of the usual and most common type that every city dweller has seen in his or her lifetime is considered an very dangerous vocation. Now, add piloting a plane over a voracious forest fire as a fire bomber and you have a truly perilous occupation, especially as a young pilot, before there was any fire bomber training.

Our author begins his career as a young man with little understanding of the complexities of a forest fire and even less understanding of exactly what he was getting himself into, which can be said for most everyone else involved in the business in the early days.

He says of those early times, “Rotor winds, wind shear, downdrafts, severe turbulence, and downbursts were terms I had yet to become familiar with.” An understanding of these and many other issues is vital to succeeding-meaning, surviving in the business of stopping forest fires.

During the span of his career, he admits “…to making all the mistakes that one can make in this business, and when my planning and precautions on a run weren’t enough, nothing but pure luck stopped my unplanned dives in downdrafts from sending me into oblivion.”

By the time Mr. Alexander retired, after more than 30 years as a fire bomber, he had witnessed many of his fellow fire bombers perish. Yet, he encourages others to follow suit in this service. Mr. Alexander would say he was one of the lucky ones, protected by his Guardian Angel. He loved his work and continues to serve the industry by writing this book, which could very well inspire others.

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