Monday, June 23, 2014

REACH FOR THE SKY, The true story of Douglas Bader, legendary Fighter Pilot of World War Two by Paul Brickhill

Today, Monday June 23rd I finished reading Reach for the Sky By Paul Brickhill.  

Reach for the Sky is a biography of Douglas Bader, a pilot who flew with Royal Air Force,(R.A.F.), during the first part of World War Two.  But what makes this book different is the man it is about.  Douglas Bader was as far as it is known, the only legless man to fly fighters during the war.

That's right, Bader lost both of his legs in a crash in 1931 when he was a new pilot with the R.A.F. He was a double amputee and was given artificial legs.

Now many people would resign themselves that they would never fly again, or drive or dance.  Not Douglas Bader.  From the minute he got his "stumps" as he called them, he went down to the motor vehicle department and got a new drivers license issued, and without the clerk even raising an eyebrow.

Bader was astonished by how easily he got the license, his next feat would take eight years to accomplish, to be reinstated as a pilot in the R.A.F.  Because of regulations they had no jurisdiction on allowing him to fly.  He was given an opportunity to prove himself, in reality the brass hoping he would prove he could not fly.

Instead he showed with his "Stumps" he could fly as good as any man, if not better, however even though he proved he could fly and the doctors signed that he was fit for service there was simply no regulation allowing him to fly, at least in peace time,

Bader struggles to find a place for himself until the possibility of war.

He does end up flying again and becomes one of the top tacticians and a wing commander, (a position where you command more than one squadron.)  

The book is slow and choppy at points and you will end up taking your time reading it, but don't give it, it is amazing and the best part of the book is near the end when Bader becomes a Prisoner of War.

What makes this book one worth reading, is that never does Bader give up, he never sees that he can not do, but finds ways not only to accomplish but inspire others.

Reach for the Sky is a book everyone who has ever felt that they have had a tough life and that they can not accomplish this because... need to read.  Bader never gave up and became a role model for veterans to children who lost limbs as well.

31/2 out of 5 Stars.


I discovered Douglas Bader while watching a program on The Military Channel about fighter aces and top squadrons.  The program inspired me to find out more, which lead me to read this book.

For Britain and the Royal Air Force, Bader was what Claire Lee Chennault was to China.  Both men thought outside the box.  Chennault was grounded due to medical issues, yet came up with some of the most astonishing tactics of the day, which are standards in all U.S. Military air services today.  Bader like Chennault came up with tactics including using large fighter wings to intercept incoming bombers, instead of a single squadron.
Above Bader and one of his Stumps

Above Sir Hugh Dowding Chief of Fighter Command and Wing Commander Douglas Bader, these two were best of friends.

Bader climbing into his Spitfire DB (Dogs Body)

Bader being made an Honorary Chief of the Kainai People of Alberta Canada for his work helping those whom are amputated, his name was Morning Bird

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