Books, ebooks and documentary features

Non-fiction
How Airliners Fly  If you are one of the millions of passengers who take to the air every day and who have no idea how an airliner flies or how it is flown - but would like to find out - then this book is for you. It is written by a retired airline captain who knows from experience the questions that are asked most frequently. He knows that for many people it is an interest born of curiosity, and in some cases, caused by fear. In this book he explains in plain language the airframe and engines, the flight deck and controls, how the aircraft is flown and the routines followed. Czech version available here.

Julien Evans flew Boeing 737s, 757s and 767s during a 36-year career. He was also an instructor and examiner on these types.
Handling Light Aircraft  This book is an updated partial rewrite of the book 'The Pilot's Manual', which dealt with all aspects of light aircraft operation, including the ground subjects forming the syllabus for the UK Private Pilot's Licence. In the intervening years there have been little or no changes in some aspects (handling these aircraft), more significant changes in others (aircraft construction materials and processes) and revolutionary changes in yet more (flight instrumentation, airspace complexity and regulation and navigational equipment and procedures). This book restricts itself to the technical description of conventional all-metal light aircraft, the theory of flight and aircraft handling in daylight visual weather conditions. Paperback version available.
The Sky Beyond  Many aviation enthusiasts have found the book 'The Sky Beyond' by Sir Gordon Taylor highly inspirational. With his evocative writing style he brought the reader into the cockpit with him, sharing his adventures as he pioneered trans-ocean flights, with only the sun and stars to guide him. On one memorable occasion Sir Gordon saved an aircraft from ditching in the Tasman Sea by his brave actions, for which he was subsequently awarded the George Cross.

Bomber Command  In 1941 the British Air Ministry published 'Bomber Command', a book intended to describe to the public the bomber offensive of the Royal Air Force against targets in Germany and the Occupied Territories. As would be expected, it overstates the effectiveness of the campaign and understates the deficiencies in the organisation and execution of bombing missions. But less expectedly, it does not shy away from recording failures and losses of aircraft and crews. What is noticeable is the contrast between the generally rudimentary nature of the bomber offensive during the first two years of the Second World War and the devastating city-obliterating raids launched by the Allied air forces later in the conflict.
The Railways of England  Published in 1890, this book is a fascinating account of railway operation in late Victorian times. Its author, economist William Acworth, begins by comparing the latest developments in the industry with the early years. We learn of the new technology and procedures that will enhance efficiency and safety on the railways. While doing so we pick up a flavour of life in general for the various classes of citizens. Mr Acworth also looks at railway practice in other European countries and in the United States and deduces that by and large the foreign operators fall short of standards in England and therefore English trains are 'the best in the world'.
Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies  At the start of the nineteenth century a new era began in musical composition. The 'classical' period, culminating in the elegant sophisticated works of luminaries such as Haydn and Mozart gradually gave way to the 'romantic' period, one of whose harbingers was Ludwig van Beethoven (who had been a pupil of Haydn). The innovative and powerful new style often strayed beyond the conventional rules of composition, which impudence some commentators celebrated while others deplored. Among Beethoven's admirers was Sir George Grove, a qualified civil engineer also renowned for his musical expertise who wrote this book to explain the structure and styling of the composer's work in layman's terms. Volume 1 of this book describes the first five symphonies.
Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies  Volume 2 of this book describes the last four of Beethoven's symphonies.
Fiction
Chalk and Cheese  Senior teachers Diana Dockerell and Clement Mayfield respect each other professionally but their differences prevent a closer relationship developing . . . until circumstances change. But circumstances also reacquaint Clement with Luisa, a German lady he met many years previously during the Berlin Airlift. Another twist of fate brings together Clement's son, Stephen, a pop singer in Hamburg, and Katharina, the daughter of Luisa. The five of them must all adjust their lives accordingly, at the same time - like every other person in the world - trying to ignore the threat of nuclear war which has arisen because President Khrushchev of the USSR has decided to site missiles on the island of Cuba. Paperback version available
The Sommerville Case  Although he's a brilliant detective, Harry Chadband doesn't seem able to pick up on the clues that both his client and his personal assistant view him with something more than affection. His latest task takes him to the French Riviera and then to the Italian lakes in his Piper Arrow light aircraft. Job done, he plans his return home but suddenly a new problem intrudes, and then a potential catastrophe . . . Paperback version available
Madeleine's Quest  After the war, Madeleine Maunsell had a difficult decision to make. As a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary she had flown Spitfires, Lancasters and many other aircraft types, delivering them to their operational bases. So the choice was: try to find gainful employment in aviation - difficult with so many demobbed pilots looking for work - or follow her other passion, which was chemistry. She picked the latter and by the mid 1960s had risen in her profession to become a professor at Oxford University. Her quest is to research methods by which emissions of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere can be reduced, but funding for the project is under threat because the powers that be consider it irrelevant. Maxwell Murdoch, an eccentric American multi-millionaire and religious zealot, offers to help, but what is his motivation? Madeleine's half-brother, Nigel, who had flown Lancasters operationally during the war, is now a BOAC captain on the Boeing 707 fleet. The lives of the two half-siblings frequently intertwine and eventually take an unexpected turn.
The Damocles Plot  A gang of criminals hijack a jet airliner and threaten to bring it down over the city of London unless their demands are met. Will the good guys be able to prevent disaster before the plane's fuel runs out? Among the dramatis personae in this epic are Captain Wilf Jagger, Chief Pilot of Meteor Air Express, First Officer Sarah Amberley-Kemp and Zulu Charlie, the world's only remaining airworthy Vickers Merchantman cargo plane.
Flight 935 Do You Read?  The crash of an airliner is blamed on pilot error but research scientist John Armstrong discovers that the accident is the result of a murder plot that has gone wrong. But who is the murderer, and who was the victim? Impossible to say. But then the plane's cockpit voice data recorder is recovered from the nets of a fishing boat in the Atlantic . . .
It's Not As Simple As That  The narrator is a lad of 12 who can’t understand why adults are messing things up when it’s obvious how they could solve the world’s problems. The title of the book is the response he always seems to hear when he suggests answers. Paperback version available

Documentary features