Fight­ing Cockpits

By Don­ald Ni­jboer; pho­to­graphs by Dan Pat­ter­son

Flight Journal - - REVIEW RUNWAY - Budd Davis­son

(Zenith Press, 224 pages, $25.73)

Mil­i­tary cockpits have a dif­fer­ent feel and smell than any other kind of cock­pit in the air. Any pi­lot who climbs into that seat can be blind­folded and still know what kind of fly­ing he’s go­ing to be do­ing. The cockpits are sin­gu­lar ex­pe­ri­ences and have changed might­ily through the years. This is ev­i­dent in the Don­ald Ni­jboer’s book, Fight­ing

Cockpits. Ni­jboer’s in­ci­sive words work with Pat­ter­son’s well-known photography to pro­duce a book that gives the reader ac­cess to the soul of ev­ery air­plane they cover—and they’ve cov­ered a lot.

More than 50 air­craft are fea­tured, rang­ing from com­bat pi­o­neers, like the Nieu­port 28 and Fokker Dr.1, through the var­i­ous stages of com­bat air­craft de­vel­op­ment to the very lat­est of to­day, such as the F-22.

The ti­tles of the four main sec­tions of the book pretty much tell the tale. “Wind in the Wires” fo­cuses on the icons that came from the in­tro­duc­tion of air­planes to war­fare. In

“Rise of the Mono­plane,” it’s fun to see the very lat­est of the bi­plane cockpits as they evolve into some­thing like the Boe­ing P-26 “Peashooter.” In “Death at 30,000 Feet,” we find our­selves sit­ting in Messer­schmitts, Mus­tangs, and Thun­der­bolts. And in the fi­nal chap­ter, “Mu­tu­ally As­sured De­struc­tion,” we’re fight­ing our way through Korea in F-86s and wad­ing through the Cold War in B-52s and F-15s, cap­ping off the jour­ney with the F-22 and F-35.

It is de­li­cious read­ing, but the eye candy that Pat­ter­son’s photography pro­vides makes for a tasty com­bi­na­tion.

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