RED FLAG A modern Air Combat Novel assumed published, copyright and written by Mike Solyom.
Before the story begins, an opening statement by the author explains that during the Vietnam War the U. S. Air force discovered that pilot’s chances of survival were dramatically greater after completing ten combat missions. Thus, simulated air combat and other unexpected conditions exercises were created to teach new pilots. They were called Red Flag operations. This is a fictional tale about one such test. The story opens with a pilot and Weapon Systems Officer flying a F/A-18 F Hornet from a carrier in the Pacific. They witness a most unusual performance by a strange UFO, now more politically correctly referred to as UAP, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena about which the pilot, nicknamed ‘Digger’ Graves, sends a message to the Carrier and lines up possibly to engage. He receives orders not to do so. He continues following, however, until suddenly it just stops from its running velocity of some 600 mph. Digger moves quickly to avoid hitting it and moments later it dives straight down. They are flying over the Magellanic Deep, one of the deepest trenches in the world. No one knew what was at the bottom. Instruments sent down to investigate had never returned and manned attempts regrettably suffered the same fate. Digger radio’s it’s disappearance to the Carrier and is told to return to base. He tells Chute, his Weapons System Officer in the rear seat, he has seen this before and that it will be scrubbed from their records when they arrive back at the carrier, so not to argue when mechanics come in to confiscate any of their equipment. Chute says O. K. but tells Digger “I got it all here” and holds up a thumb drive. From here the story switches to the Red Flag operation that includes pilots from several nations including Greece, Egypt, India, Russia and several other countries engaged in fighting the insurgent Caliphate, a war in which America has decided they should not participate. However, two experienced American pilots are ‘on leave’ form the Air Force and are working for a secretly established CIA unit as ‘private contractors’ so they can participate in fighting against the Caliphate. The story proceeds by following the Red Flag operations with a most interesting relationship developing between the Russian Ace and the similarly experienced CIA pilot and strengthening when the UAP makes an unexpected appearance wreaking havoc on the Red Flag exercise.
Discussion: This is a tale quite obviously written by a highly knowledgeable man with respect to modern aircraft, their design, faults and capabilities. It also is a tribute, as well as description of the intense amount of training necessary to successfully operate these deadly flying computers, as well as to the almost instantaneous mental adaptations that must be made by these pilots. The book is very well-written and should be enjoyed not only by those devoted to stories of Aliens, UFO’s (ATP’s), thrillers, war, flying, or any similar, but from this reader’s perspective also is a book any type of reader may learn much about modern warfare that so constantly is thrust upon our minds. As a most interesting aside, the author also has included a very enlightening observation with respect to Russian thought that is not apparent to most unacquainted with their culture. The Russian pilot in conversation with his American counterpart states: “The people and the government are not always the same. I am absolutely loyal to my countrymen as they are to me. But my government is capable of very dishonorable things. They only care about their powerful allies and benefactors. Not the people.” His American counterpart is somewhat astonished: “Russians had always baffled Lee. They were such different people with a culture that only superficially resembled his own. He could never get a grasp on why they acted the way they did and why they always insisted on being so adversarial. But this he understood. Family always came first. It was more important than the whims of people who happened to be in power.” He then recalled a statement made by the American humorist Mark Twain: “The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing. It is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to. Institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to worship rags, to die for rags, to worship rags – this is loyalty to unreason, it is pure animal. It was invented by monarchy. Let monarchy keep it.”
Summary: A fast-paced, interesting and from many aspects even most thought provoking novel from the creator of the Century City Series.
5* Fast-paced, many faceted, thought provoking novel. Highly Recommended.