Book Review: The Eye of the Viper: The Making of an F-16 Pilot

Peter Aleshire
The Lyons Press, 2004.
Topic: F-16 Pilot Training

Peter Aleshire is an author who shadowed a B-Course class through their 6 months at Luke Air Force Base. His book is an interesting summary of the time at Luke with some additional information on other training that specific pilots required. The decision on whether to recommend this book was not easy; it is somewhat informative for someone who might want insight into the fighter pilot culture, though it is specific to the F-16.

On a moral level, it is written as a fighter pilot might write it: profanity (including the use of God’s name in vain), is casually common. More importantly, there are some factual errors or misleading implications. Unimportant examples include the statement that Kunsan butts up against the Korean Demilitarized Zone (p155; it doesn’t), or the implication that an F-16 pilot can guide a TV guided missile from the cockpit (p179; such missiles are not an F-16 weapon). An important example is the continuing implication that poor family life and divorce are fighter pilot givens (for example, p144; they’re not).

Also, the writing is nearly romantic (in the glorified way, not the emotional way). Pilots are described as “cut from a block of marble by a samurai carver with sweeps of the blade too fast for the eye” (p51) and “straight out of a recruiting poster” (p151). While linguistically artistic, the descriptions don’t add much in the way of content and beg the question as to what other facts are similarly semantically glorified.

Not recommended due to the language, errors, and misleading implications. That said, it was almost recommended. There is informative content in it. If you choose to read it, do so with a grain of salt. Prepare yourself for the profanity and contact ChristianFighterPilot if you have any questions or to help clear up some of the details.

This book is available from Amazon.