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Posted on Oct 27, 2004 in Books and Movies

Eye of the Viper: The Making of an F-16 Pilot – Book Review

By Carl Wells

Eye of the Viper: The Making of an F-16 Pilot
Peter Aleshire
Lyons Press, 2004

If all you know about fighter pilots is what you learned watching Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun’, then you need to read this book. Fighter jocks are different sub-species of Homo Sapiens. This book attempts to explain these differences. The author, while not a aviation writer, has been able to get a glimpse of the heart of a fighter pilot.

While Aleshire is obviously impressed with both the aircraft and the people who fly them, he uses a reporter’s skill in seeing them for the humans they are. This is not a story that centers around dogfights and breathless descriptions of actual aerial engagements. It centers itself on a small group of students and the instructors. Culled from a larger sampling of instructors and students, the book traces a divergent group through basic flight instruction, basic fighter school and finally to Viper school. The author could have enlarged the group of students and instructors, and thus lengthened the book.


If you’re a fan of fighter planes you’ll enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, but are interested in the way the US military has and is changing, you’ll find this book worthy of your time.