Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book note: Reach for the Sky, by Paul Brickhill

I finally noticed the "more books you will enjoy" page in my copy of The Sky Beyond, and one of the touted books is Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill. The blurb runs:

The inspiring, magnificent story of Douglas Bader, legless fighter pilot, who led his Spitfire squadrons to victory in the Battle of Britain.

Uhm, says I, a legless fighter pilot?

What they mean, it turns out, is a man with two artificial legs, one for a leg amputated above the knee, the other for a leg amputated below the knee. Which is still pretty amazing, isn't it? At a guess. (What I know about what it takes to fly a military aircraft is not very much, folks. But I'm assuming there are reasons military pilots are notably fit.)

Checking around, I see there is a Douglas Bader Foundation in the UK, which promotes the welfare of amputees and other disabled people. I like their maxim: ‘ A disabled person who fights back is not disabled...but inspired.’

Reach for the Sky was made into a movie in 1956.

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