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Is there anything you would change about this book?
First, let's address the material. If you are expecting a chronological history of the design, development, testing, and implementation of the X-15 planes & program you'll be disappointed. I was. Missing here is virtually anything on where the idea came from, how the planes came to be on the drawing board, details of constructing the three aircraft and of the various rocket motors used. This would have been fascinating material to have included in the book. When you think about it, with 199 flights, each lasting only about 10-15 minutes each, that's only roughly about 40 total hours of flight time for all three planes combined.
Don't get me wrong, the flights themselves are fascinating and a crucial part on any look at the X-15 program. It just seemed like there was too much other "filler" that could have been spent on the actual engineering, construction, and modification of the planes. But, perhaps understandably, the author's focus was more on the human interest side of the program.
What you do have is an overview of the careers of the X-15 pilots and the test flights each of them made. That's fine, but still, not in chronological order. What the author does is take each pilot one-by-one, starting from the first to the last, and lays out their careers and details many of the test flights that they participated in. Since each chapter focuses on one pilot alone the narrative often overlaps with material in other chapters. Naturally, this approach also means that there is quite a bit of leaping back and forth from one time frame to another as a new chapter begins. This took a while to get use to and was very confusing at first because I was frequently getting lost in what year we were in while listening. Also, this style, in a way, spoils some of the potential drama later in the book, and one event in particular near the end could have been more dramatic except for it being completely spoiled by a reference to it earlier in the book.
Now to the narration. Yes, as others have observed, this was not the best choice in narrator. The voice was so monotone, droning, and slow (I mean SLOW!) that I had to increase the play speed to 1.5X just to make the listening experience more interesting and lively. That actually made the the material quite listenable.
Just before the book was finished yesterday I adjusted the speed back to 1X just to see if I was exaggerating. No! I couldn't believe how plodding the reading was and how accustomed to 1.5X I had become. I would never have made it to the finish at normal speed. It really made it hard to concentrate and I was missing key dates, names, and locations because the reading was sleep inducing. Running it at 1.5X was much better.
All of this might seem like a negative review, but that's not entirely the case. Overall, I did come around to enjoying the book. But the material and presentation could have been much better except for the aspects I mention above.
Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?
How did the narrator detract from the book?
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Very detailed history and breakdown if each pilot. I just found the reading very monotonous, like a reading of the phone book. I had to stop many times and come back to it, it kind of droned on.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Good listen, some chapters near the end seemed to go off track a bit (X15 related movies etc) which didn't hold my interest so well, but overall pretty good!
If you could sum up The X-15 Rocket Plane in three words, what would they be?
Detailed, long, precise
What was one of the most memorable moments of The X-15 Rocket Plane?
The record breaking feats of daring by the pilots and the realisation the Neal Armstrong was taken off of flight duties
Have you listened to any of Gary L. Willprecht’s other performances? How does this one compare?
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
God this this long
Any additional comments?
If like me you a a die hard fan of all things areonautic and space, then this is the book for you. I can see that the story could have a limited audience to the some muggles