So I just wrapped up reading Billy Anders book Foxtrot We're on the way, available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle. Here is the review I posted to Amazon a few minutes ago.
A book about dreams, aviation, friends, life, helicopters, police, and Cutting across Shorty. A must read!
Don’t think this book is just about flying police helicopters! It is so much more than that. Go back in time to a small town in Mississippi where a young Billy Anders first turned his eyes and hopes skyward as he watched WWII aircraft being flown to far off destinations. Come along on his first airplane ride on a Lockheed Constellation as he flies into Guatemala City at the age of 10, right into the middle of an attempted government takeover in the summer of 1953, complete with bomb laden P-51s.
Any aviation enthusiast will thoroughly enjoy sharing the author’s memories as he enters ROTC at LSU and begins to hop rides in the back seat of aircraft like the T-33 Shooting Star, and later Martin 404s and EC-121 Constellations. While his eyesight kept him out of military flight school, he traveled to South East Asia during the Vietnam War as a personnel officer attached to an F105 Fighter wing in Korat Thialand.
Back in Texas Billy obtains his pilot license and goes to work for $5 an hour flying beetle patrol and smoke patrol over the Texas forest for a small flying service out of Jasper. Billy eventually finds his way into the newly formed air wing of the San Antonio Police Department where he takes to the skies in the department’s two piston powered Hughes 269 (Schweizer 300) helicopters as they search for bodies, chase stolen cars, and occasionally interrupt young lovers who thought they were well hidden from public eyes.
More than flying, this book is about people; the people who influenced the author’s life and his life-long love of aviation. It’s about the LSU ROTC classmates that didn’t make it back from Vietnam. It’s about the SAPD sergeant that recruited the author to join the SAPD and brought him into the air wing, who left this world too early. It’s about all the officers who ever shared the cockpit, a police car, or just a good story with the author. It’s about boyhood friends who helped encourage the author’s dream of flight, who have now passed on. And it’s about family and how the father’s love of aviation influenced his children’s futures in powerfully positive ways. Finally it’s about God, and giving credit where credit is due.
I could not review this book without mentioning the phrase “cutting across Shorty.” No doubt taken from Eddie Cochran’s 1960 hit “Cut Across Shorty”, in SAPD Aviation lingo it referred to those times when the bad guy in his hot rod was outrunning your piston powered Hughes 269 helicopter. But the one trick the helicopter pilot has up his sleeve is cutting across Shorty. While the bad guy and his car has to stick to the roads as they are laid out geographically, the helicopter crew tries to close the gap by flying the shortcut- a straight line- to intercept. Every police pilot in the nation has “cut across Shorty” at one time or another we just did not know that was what it was called!
The author does a masterful job of weaving all of these stories together, childhood, military, police calls, flight school; back and forth so the reader does not have to wait long for the next police call or the next story about trying to land a small plane at a darkened south Texas airport by lining up only two lights on poles and counting the estimated number of seconds before the wheels touched the runway.
This book is about life! Following your dreams, touching the sky, touching other people and looking back on a great life lived. This book is for the young or old. Anyone interested in a career in aviation or anyone who wants to take a flight back through aviation will surely enjoy their time spent with Billy Anders as his co-pilot.