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Kerosene Cowboys

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Pilots Library - Arrington_KC - 2301

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SLUFS, fliers and nostalgia combine to make a great read in Randy Arrington's foray into capturing the lives and lifestyles of the members of the VA-204 "River Rattlers" - quasi-fictional reservists called up in the early 1990s, for story's sake, to represent the A-7 community during the Corsair's final cruise.Arrington calls on his experience as a tactical aviator from the start, infusing personalities and quirks into the Rattlerready room to develop a cross section of characters running the spectrum from choir boys (very few) to stereotypical jet jocks (quite a few) that typically inhabit a squadron while offering a detailed image of life in a reserve unit. Stress and concerns associated with the activation are mitigated by the excitement of getting back on the ship and heading to far-off locales. Details of the workup period draw the reader into the world of tactical Navy flying, the depth of preparation for missions and the rewards of these efforts in a job well done. Arrington's portrayal of the lifestyle of early 90s aviators will bring smiles of knowing appreciation to the indoctrinated, and envy to all others.Extended All Officers Meetings (and this in the days before PowerPoint), trips to watering holes across the country familiar to all, terrifically engineered pranks (one reflected a certain XO's asbestos "scare" on the Connie a few years back), golf games with dignitaries and volumes of (rather non-P.C.) banter between comrades take the reader right back to that life of minor stress and terrific excitement. The tale follows Brad "Teen Angel" Ackerman - who supplements his day job as a Hollywood stunt pilot with monthly trips to New Orleans to stay sharp in the cockpit, pursue local belles and maintain ties to the life he left behind for the civilian world - through the first stage of workups. Married members of the squadron do their best to deal with the surprise of this good deal and the pressure placed on families that never saw it coming. All work together to build cohesion in order to prove the viability and efficacy of a reserve squadron already viewed derisively by a skeptical Air Group Commander.Kerosene Cowboys brings all of the fun and misery of preparing for cruise right back to the fore. Any flier - Navy or otherwise - will enjoy reading their way back into planning, briefing, flying and debriefing the rides required to gain certification for sea. Arrington never strays far from total immersion, and keeps the social aspect of Naval Aviation in sharp, entertaining focus. His book is a fun, intriguing tale for aviators, aspirants, fans and general readers whose biggest concern will be trying to figure out how long it will be before they can finally put to sea with the Rattlers in Arrington's next Kerosene Cowboys novel.

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