"Fire on the flight deck!" Ominous words when living on an aircraft carrier hundreds of miles at sea. An American supercarrier flight deck is considered by many to be one of the most dangerous places on Earth; multi-million dollar aircraft launching, landing, and taxiing in the space of a few football fields, all orchestrated by a control tower and flight deck crew whose average age is 19.
During the Cold War of the 1980s, this massive ship provided the largest, mobile weapon in the United States arsenal, instilling fear and respect among opposing forces. While the supercarrier can deliver an awesome display of firepower, it carries an inherent danger for those who fly and work among the aircraft.
Brian Donley survived boot camp and completed aircraft firefighter school to serve as a yellow shirt on the flight deck of the USS William Halsey. Would his training, will, and courage equip him for the most challenging day of his life?
Darren Sapp's breakout novel delivers the sights, sounds, and action of a supercarrier. He served in the inaugural flight deck crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as a crash crew member and yellow shirt aircraft director.
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A Spot-On Navy Story
I brought several books with me on a business trip to Asia; this audio version I started and couldn't stop listening; the story made a normally boring commute across the globe a thrilling recollection of my time as navy firefighter... what a trip. I have not yet read the print version.
I loved the details of navy life; from delayed-entry enlistment to boot camp, to striking as an airdale, and finally what it means to be a shipboard fire-fighter.I was hooked from the first chapter. I especially liked the early chapters in boot camp - Great Lakes. I did basic training in San Diego, we had disco parties out west instead of mash workouts, but the hours of push-ups and standing in lines had the same effect on me as it did on Donley, the books main character.
I favored all of the scenes written in first-person from Donley's point of view. These were for me the best parts of the book and excellently captured the essence of navy life.
Victor “Li’l V” Randolph. I think Li'l V is the epitome of why the navy is the best branch of service. In the navy there are very few warrior jobs; excluding SEALs and pilots, sailors are mostly technicians, mechanics, maintenance workers, administrators, and deck hands. As a yellow shirt airdale, Li'l V is a mere parking attendant. But then there is a fire... that's when the mild-mannered boatswains mate transforms into a super-hero. There are selfless heroics found everywhere in the service, in all branches, but when there are explosions and fires and death happening all over the flight deck, it takes a special person to keep his cool and do his job... that's Li'l V.
This story absolutely captures what it's like to be an enlisted sailor. We go through a few months of training, (boot camp, fire-fighting school, etc.) get assigned to a mega-war-ship, put in charge of managing and maintaining millions of dollars’ worth of machinery and equipment; and when the inevitable happens (a plane misses the apron by a few feet), the only thing that stands between a catastrophic fire and certain death of hundreds… is a sailor and his courage and devotion. Every day, heroes on navy ships do their work. I smiled and wept and remembered those days... for just a few hours, this book brought me back to my time to when I was one of those sailors. Thanks Darren Sapp for a great story.
- Scott Black