Sliding out of the shadows of World War Two, the de Havilland Vampire – accompanied by the distinctive whine of its Goblin engine – quickly proved itself an effective alternative to piston-powered fighters. After entering operational service with the RAF (as the service’s first single-engined jet) in 1946, the Vampire – sought by air forces the world over – held a number of notable records: the first fighter to exceed 500 mph, the first to set a world altitude record of almost 60,000 ft, the first jet to take off and land from an aircraft carrier, and the first jet to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Not bad for something built partly of wood.
Throughout these pages, the “Vampire Boys” bring to life the trials and tribulations of operating a first-generation jet across the globe. Through their insightful anecdotes and exceptional experiences, the reader can follow squadrons across the dusty deserts of Iraq to exercises in West Germany. First-hand tales of training, aerial handling, incidents and accidents (including the much-maligned spin characteristics) and squadron life – accompanied by unique images – bring together a portrait of a pioneering time in aviation advancement, right up to the present day with the T.11 still flying from Coventry Airport.
Charlotte Bailey began her aviation career building special-shape hot-air balloons. However, a love of fixed-wing flight prompted a sidestep into writing. Now a freelance aviation editor and author, she has worked on titles worldwide, as well as learning to fly a Piper Supercub. Alongside her writing work, she helps crew for the last airworthy ex-RAF Vampire in the world, the T.11 WZ507 – a venture the heritage and history of which she describes as an “essential element” to preserve.