It is difficult to come up with an idea that is both original and interesting in the world of aviation books. Chris Monier has managed to do this with this book, which is dedicated to F-8 Crusader BuNo 149210.
Everything started when the author purchased the nose section of 149210 in France in 2000. The aircraft was part of a set purchased by the French Navy to use as spare parts supply for its last Crusader (the French operated the Crusader until 1999).
Having salvaged the nose section, Chris Monier decided to try to learn more about this aircraft. Over several years of research, he managed to piece back together “his” Crusader’s history. And what a history! For example, “Old 149210” was flown by Phil Vampatella on 12 June 1966. On this day, Vampatella was the wingman to Cdr Hal Marr, who scored the first Crusader kill. Vampatella later also became a “MiG killer”. 149210 turned out to be a real veteran, having flown several deployments over Vietnam and served with many US Navy and Marine Corps squadrons.
Chris Monier not only managed to discover 149210’s history, but he also found many of the pilots who actually flew it, hence the title. These men shared pictures, log books and stories with the author, who turned all of this material into a book. Some of these pilots became famous while others were never in the limelight, but all had great memories to share.
This is what makes Monier’s book so interesting: it is written in an unorthodox yet very appealing way. It is a collection of anecdotes, combat reports, miscellaneous pieces of information that, combined together, make for a fascinating and refreshing read.
“F-8 Crusader and its drivers, the amazing tale of a US fighter jet throughout the Vietnam War”, in english, 112 pages, numerous colour and B&W pictures and artwork.