The Midwest Book Review: Hump Pilot

March 22, 2015 — Print this Page

Review by Diane Donovan

So many books have been written about the pilots and aviation history of World War II that one might wonder about the need for yet another story; but Hump Pilot: Defying Death Flying the Himalayas During World War II offers up something different; although it starts off with the usual biographical mechanism of examining the lift of one American pilot.

So what’s the difference between this and other accounts? For one, there’s a focus on the experience of training to be a pilot versus the actual deployment and in-the-air experience. Under such an approach, readers feel they are in the cockpit with Ned Thomas as he rises to the cause.

For another thing, Hump Pilot emphasises a particular route (over the most notoriously dangerous mountains in the world, the Himalayas — known as the Hump) and documents how American polots braved the special challenges of this itinerary to bring resources to both Chinese troops in China and Allied forces in the Pacific.

This has been a little-documented piece of the war, depsite all the aviation histories on the market covering other facets of pilot experience, and so Hump Pilot stands out in this arena as a rare survey of Eastern Himalayan dancers and challenges. While other histories cover military transport units, few provide more than a cursory mention of the Hump’s special meaning in the war.

Imagine flying over the Himalayas with no charts, no navigation tools, and very little information about weather conditions! Imagine providing a solution to the China supply dilemma that involved placing polot lives on the line with no support and very little information to go on.

Now imagine a history hat reads with the drama and emmediacy of fuction, and you have an inclination of the special features of Hump Pilot: a story recommended not so much for the technical aviation or milkitary history specialist but for the general-interest reader who may know little about either, but who harbors an affection for vivid stories of death-defying heroism.

Printed from the History Publishing Company website, visit .

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