Snake Pilot: Flying the Cobra Attack Helicopter in Vietnam Review

Snake Pilot: Flying the Cobra Attack Helicopter in Vietnam
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Evidently, the publisher's printing press has a maximum number of pages that it can print in a book of this size. Regrettably, Randy was forced to cut major portions from the original manuscript that detailed more than the actions of a cobra pilot.
In spite of this, Randy has completed the impossible task: He has documented the details correctly, and has also caught the tone, captured the frustration, and has put into writing what it was like to be a very young cobra pilot in Charlie Troop, 1/9 Cav.
This is personal. This is a personal account; with all of the personal feelings and interactions that one is expected to have in combat. He has not blown his personal, the troop's, nor the 9th Cav's exploits out-of-proportion (like another author has), and has tried his best to describe the unit as it was.... a great Troop in the highly recognized 9th Cavalry, "doing it all like it was supposed to be done" in Nam. As such, the good and the not so good are both reported as fairly as any human being in combat can. When you are done reading his excellent book, you will no doubt have assimilated his personal feelings for what it was like to be a "Snake Pilot."
Grover Wright
Charlie Troop, 1/9 Cav
Snake Pilot

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Based on audiotapes he recorded during the war and sent home to his family, Randy Zahn's Snake Pilot recounts his experiences flying AH-1 Cobra helicopters during the Vietnam War. First deployed in Vietnam in 1967 and loaded with a formidable arsenal of weaponry, the Cobra was the first helicopter designed from inception as an attack aircraft. It dramatically changed the nature of the war in Vietnam by offering the Army, for the first time, its own powerful and highly accurate weapons platform for close-air-support missions. Randy Zahn arrived in Vietnam shortly before the 1970 U.S. invasion of Cambodia, one of the most impressive demonstrations by the Cobra in the war. He describes his stunning transformation from a naive, middle-class teenager from southern California to a hardened killer during his tour in Vietnam. Unlike the pilots who flew the fast-moving strike jets, Zahn experienced the war 'up close and personal," witnessing the grisly effects of the Cobra's firepower on enemy soldiers. The author does not glorify killing but rather explains in sharp relief the kaleidoscope of emotions associated with combat: fear, revenge, hate, remorse, pity, and even ecstasy. He captures many of the ironies and nuances inherent in Vietnam, especially during the final years of the conflict. Zahn displays a sensitivity rarely found in memoirs written by battle-hardened warriors. This human element, combined with the vast amount of archival research and interviews with members of his former unit, ensures that Snake Pilot will become the definitive account of the role helicopters played in Vietnam.

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