November, 1940: after Hitler’s Blitzkreig devastated Europe, Britain held out alone against the Nazis. North American factories were producing badly-needed warplanes in quantity, but how to get them over there? Nazi U-boats were decimating freighter convoys with great loss of life and cargo, including aircraft. Why not fly them across? It’s hard for those of us in the 21st century to believe it, but the stormy North Atlantic had rarely been flown in winter. It was considered suicidal to even try. Yet desperate times call for desperate measures. Ferry Command Pilot honors the unique but little known group which, beginning in November 1940, delivered almost 10,000 warplanes across the uncharted oceans, suffering losses comparable to losses in combat. Why did this brave group not become famous? Well, it had several names over the war years; it was comprised of both military and civilian personnel from several countries and military organizations. Best known as the Royal Air Force Ferry Command based in Montreal, Quebec, it evolved into No. 45 Group RAF Transport Command with headquarters in England.
The most important reason? This was a secret mission. So for almost forty years, the story of Ferry Command was unknown to the public.
Ferry Command Pilot is told firsthand from the pilot’s seat by then-twenty-six-year-old Ferry Command Captain Don McVicar. A Canadian civilian pilot, he was unusual in that he was also a crack navigator and radio operator, skills that brought him and his crews back from many dangerous missions. He received the King’s Commendation and the Order of the British Empire for his valuable services in the air.
After a long turbulent career in Canadian aviation, Don McVicar gathered together his many logbooks, photographs, memories, and those of survivors with whom he had remained in touch, and wrote the first real book about the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. In 1981 Airlife published Ferry Command in hardcover, followed by North Atlantic Cat, A Change of Wings, Mosquito Racer and More Than A Pilot. His self-published A Railroad from the Sky, Distant Early Warning, and From Cuba to Oblivion completed his acclaimed autobiographical aviation series.
In 1990, with Ferry Command sold out, no longer in print but in demand by his readers worldwide, he split it into its two natural halves, Ferry Command Pilot and South Atlantic Safari, which he self-published, printed-on-demand: revolutionary ideas in 1990! After writing at least a million well-received words, he had the confidence to make these versions a bit juicier, truer to the wide-open spirit of a bush pilot from the Canadian West. He’s not afraid to tell a corny joke or to tell the truth about some of his rougher landings!
Although Captain McVicar passed away in 1997, he foretold the power of the internet to help authors and artists in particular to get their work out into the world. 2015 would have been his 100th birthday, and is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Don McVicar would be pleased to see his book back out in the world!
This Words on Wings Press paperback edition of Ferry Command Pilot was carefully illustrated, meticulously edited and lovingly designed by his daughter, Donna McVicar Kazo, a professional artist, editor, writer and graphic designer.
It was important to Captain McVicar to identify those who flew with him, even those whose performance was less than stellar. Where else would their small – yet vital – contributions to the defeat of Hitler be recognized? This edition is a tribute to all of those good guys – and gals. May we be so brave.
- 0692447148 / 9780692447147
- Page Count:
- Binding Type:
- US Trade Paper
- Trim Size:
- 6″ x 9″
- Black and White
- Related Categories:
- History / Military / Aviation