Select one of the keywords
Stealth Fighter: A Year in the Life of An F-117 Pilot    by William O'Connor order for
Stealth Fighter
by William O'Connor
Order:  USA  Can
Zenith Press, 2012 (2012)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Introduced in the early 1980s, the F-117 Stealth Nighthawk was a groundbreaking combat plane that was all but invisible on radar screens. The aircraft's odd shape, all flat panels and angles, gave it a very distinctive appearance that allowed it to slip past enemy surveillance systems but also made it a challenge to fly.

In Stealth Fighter: A Year in the Life of An F-117 Pilot, Lt. Col. William O'Connor shares what it was like to fly this awesome fighting machine in combat.

Now retired, O'Connor piloted the F-117 during the Kosovo War. As he explains in the book's prologue, 'This isn't a history of the F-117 or even of the Kosovo War. The firsthand experiences that follow simply relate the day-today events of one pilot over the course of a year ... Hopefully I can do some small justice in recording a fraction of the service performed by the men and women of the 8th and 9th Expeditionary Fighter Squadrons.'

The following first person narrative takes the reader from the author's assignment through training, deployment, mission planning, and combat flights.

O'Connor had a 26 year career as a U.S. Air Force aviator. He flew eight different types of jet aircraft and amassed 6,077 hours as a fighter, test, and instructor pilot, Of all the planes he flew, the F-117 was probably the most challenging.

Because of its unique design, the plane was very unstable. Four separate computer systems continuously monitored and adjusted its flight path to keep the aircraft from tumbling out of control. Nevertheless, O'Connor flew numerous missions over the war zone and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.

Over 37,000 sorties were flown over Yugoslavia during the Operation Allied Force air campaign. Although later analysis indicated that a pilot was two and a half times more likely to have been shot at by a SAM missile during this conflict than over Iraq during Desert Storm, only two planes were actually lost. In both cases the pilots were rescued.

Not only has the author retired but the F-117 also was also 'put out to pasture' in the late 1980s after 25 years of service. It had been used in Panama, Iraq during both Gulf Wars, and Yugoslavia.

Besides O'Connor's very readable and entertaining narrative, the book contains 31 color and 12 black and white photos. Anyone interested in military history, the U.S. Airforce, or this very unusual aircraft will definitely enjoy reading Stealth Fighter.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews