B2 This book is old, and its story much older halfway WW 1 , but I still like it Why It s thin enough to be appealing to young readers and contains modest adventures to keep them reading.But meanwhile, it paints a picture of England France of a century ago.The coming of age of a boy in troubled times, not shying away, or playing down the horrors of death. While Biggles is a classic of its time, I m not sure it would fly with today s youth.The most obvious issue would be the Hun and other derogatory terms for our current German allies However the Wilko, Old Man lingo also seems a far cry from common parlance now I daresay it s a little amusing to my young ears.However what certainly isn t quaint is the attention to detail in this book I would argue that it is so rich and precise it might elevate the story to something easier for adults to follow and appreciate Considering that the old wartime fascination has largely passed from recent generations, I am not entirely sure any boys or girls of the intended age bracket would gravitate towards a title like this now.Personally I enjoyed its evocative sense of history and Biggles naive beginnings I didn t enjoy its dense strategic prose I would recommend this book to those interested in WW1 aircraft, of all ages. Sep Norfolk Flying School Trains Dogged Delicate Looking Bigglesworth He Ships To France On Less Than Air Hours Though Gunner Mark Saves His First Flight, Hot Dogfights Force Him To Learn Or Die Downed Twice Over Lines, He Evades And Chases Boche In Air And On Land, Plans New Tactics Against Hun Circuses, Drops French Spy James Bigglesworth aged seventeen joined the army in 1916 and got posted to the as yet unnamed Royal Flying Corps He was a Second Lieutenant and after nine hours of solo flying he was sent to the Front in France The biplanes were extremely new to war and had been used first for observation, then machine guns and bomb racks were fitted Triplanes known as tripehounds were also in use on the German side The planes such as Sopwith Pups were made of spruce wood and piano wire, and did not have the luxury of fuel gauges or parachutes This book was not the first written of the series but Capt Johns is undoubtedly recalling his own youth and days in the fighter squadrons He wrote it in 1935 and must have been amazed by how fast the aviation world had taken off and become sophisticated Reading the book we get reminded that the trenches stretched from the French or Belgian coast to the borders of Switzerland Artillery were often shelling a position they could not see so planes were sent up to spot for them and the basic but effective signalling in use is described We also see that cavalry was still in use and the unpleasantness of trench warfare is experienced a few times during crash landings, when the young officer is happy to escape back to his own lines The people and stress of those early days of aerial combat are extremely well realised, so that a young reader will be thrilled and a mature reader left gasping at the bravery involved I had read many of the series but not this book, and was delighted to get a chance to read it as reissued for the centenary of the Great War I d hoped that Johns might have mentioned something of Biggles family or home but this is not the case.To my mind the WW1 books are the best written of the series Biggles starred in many books but later became a one dimensional figure as Johns wrote what his publishers told him that boys wanted to read You may also be interested in Biggles the Authorised Biography by John Pearson which treats the character as though he was a real person. Biggles got off to a shaky start, but I was relieved to find that not only did he learn to fly but he also avoided getting killed, which is probably just as well.The book still reads well after a forty or so year gap since I last read it Drama and excitement, tick Horrors of war, tick The occasional lyrical description of flying, likewise tick. As an avid buff of all things aviation since being a young boy, I can t for the life of me work out why I ve just read a Biggles book for the first time Amazing I would have loved it 30 years ago and I loved it now Full of excitement I have bought a boxed set of numerous Biggles books so can t wait to continue with reading the next instalment Decided on a change of pace and thought this was probably a good choice for a first Biggles book, given the whole learns to fly thing Very much a product of the Boy s Own get the hun mentality, and doesn t need a lot of intellectual engagement, but enjoyable. Although Biggles may be reknowned as for children , this is actually pretty well written, historically accurate and perfectly grown up in most of the vocabulary used Johns writes with enthusiasm and clearly knows his subject very well indeed This book is set in 1916 17 although written in the 1930s, set mostly in Northern France and reads like a set of 16 closely related and chronologically arranged episodes, rather than a single novel Biggles flies a variety of planes as they are developed and he improves as a pilot, as do the enemy My biggest reservation is that at 204 pages, this already gets a little samey, a little too Boys Own occasionally, and the proofreading is less than impeccable at times Maybe Johns just became swept up in the excitement of his own action scenes This was interesting enough, but I can t imagine anyone reading all 102 Biggles books 3.25 5 Johns was one of those British men of a certain era with a biography that sounds that it can t possibly be true, featuring heroics, odd incidents, narrow escapes, and prolific writing than one would expect from any twelve reasonably adventurous people He was a fighter pilot in WWI, where he had a number of exciting incidents, including accidentally shooting off his own propeller, culminating in being shot down and taken prisoner He then became an RAF recruiting officer, and rejected T E Lawrence for giving a false name Mostly after this, he wrote 160 books, including 100 about ace pilot Biggles I cribbed this from his Wikipedia article, which is well worth reading These books were hugely popular in the UK for while, and are probably still easier to find there They were also reasonably popular in India when I was there I virtually never see them in the US, and had I known this I would have obtained some before leaving India They weren t huge favorites of mine, but I did enjoy them and they are excellent for researching early aviation and fighting tactics, such as they were Johns notes that WWI pilots were not formally taught to fight, but had to learn on the job Casualty rates were high Biggles Learns to Fly is a solid, if episodic, adventure story the interest is in the very realistic details It takes new pilots time to learn to spot enemy aircraft while flying, even when a experienced gunner is screaming that they re on top of him, because they re not used to scanning in three dimensions It fascinated me to read the details of such early, primitive aircraft and aerial warfare Pilots communicated with hand signals, and Biggles was sent on his first combat mission after something like ten hours of solo flying Here s an excerpt from the very last page, after yet another heroic action Major Mullen shot a glance at Biggles, noting his white face and trembling hands He had seen the signs He had seen them too often not to recognize them The pitcher can go too often to the well, and, as he knew from grim experience, the best of nerves cannot indefinitely stand the strain of air combat The Major sends him off for a week s rest This is what we would now call combat stress acute stress in civilians , which may or may not be a precursor to PTSD It becomes PTSD if it doesn t go away I found it interesting because of how matter of fact and sympathetic Johns is, depicting it as something that happens to everyone and doesn t reflect badly on Biggles Some other writing from WWI sees it as a sign of cowardice or mental moral deficiency Possibly he would not have been so sympathetic if Biggles wasn t back in reasonably good shape after his rest Or possibly the RAF had a different attitude Then again, the book was written in 1935 Benefit of hindsight That s also a good example of the tone in general emotions are noted but not dwelled upon We only get enough of anyone s interior life to make their actions make sense. does a happy little squeal Does anyone have this same problemyou find a WW1 or WW2 book not Christian that looks interesting and hope, hope, hope that it isn t full of language Then you go home and the first several pages are full of swear word after swear word I ve done this much too often So when I found several Biggles books at the charity shop yesterday I was a little incredulous I heard about these books awhile ago, and though they looked like good books for boys.And I m sooo happy This was full of flying during the Great Warand nothing else It is clean and Biggles personality and valor during his flying won me over I know my brother is going to love this and I m hoping the other books are just as good.
Invariably known as Captain W.E Johns, William Earl Johns was born in Bengeo, Hertfordshire, England He was the son of Richard Eastman Johns, a tailor, and Elizabeth Johns n e Earl , the daughter of a master butcher He had a younger brother, Russell Ernest Johns, who was born on 24 October 1895 He went to Hertford Grammar School where he was no great scholar but he did develop into a crack sh
- 208 pages
- Biggles Learns to Fly
- W.E. Johns
- 19 April 2018 W.E. Johns