In no order other than how they occurred to me just now:
Stranger to the Ground
by Richard Bach. Essays on flying F-84s in the Air Force in the 1950s on a framework of a single night flight from England over Germany to France in an F-84. Bach at his best.
The Lonely Sky
by Bill Bridgeman. Bill was a Douglas test pilot who flew the D-558 phase I and phase II
. The book ends with his first meeting with the X-3 Stiletto. Very well written.
Island in the Sky
by Ernest K. Gann. Forced landing of a transport on a frozen lake in Labrador or northern Quebec during WW II
and the search and survival stories. Gann at his best.
Carrying the Fire
by Michael Collins. The best-written book by any of the astronauts. Collins was the command module pilot on Apollo 11 and later curator of the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian.
The Left Seat
by Robert Serling. The story is dated now but still well-told. A good look at the post-war years and the growth of airlines and their technologies. Serling is a skilled writer.
Wind, Sand and Stars
by Antoine de Ste. Exupery. Probably the most lyrical writer who ever wrote about airplanes. This may be the only "literature" about airplanes. This one deals with flying the Sahara and the southern Andes in open cockpit biplanes. Some of the best aviation writing ever, and some stirring stories. Includes the ultimate eulogy for a pilot.
Serenade to the Big Bird
by Bert Stiles. Really good account of the experience of being a young B-17 copilot in the 8th Air Force. Stiles finished his tour in bombers and returned to fly fighters. He was killed on the second tour.
Flights of Passage
by Samuel Hynes. The sort of autobiographical account I wish more people could write. So many great stories out there and so few good writers. This is a very good account of being a Naval Aviator toward the end of WW II
. One of my keepers.
The Right Stuff
by Tom Wolfe. Vastly better than the movie. Same basic storyline - contrasting test pilots with astronauts ("Spam in a can") while telling the story of the dawn of the space age in the US.
Also, Milt Thompson
, one of the X-15 pilots wrote a very good book about that project and about his experience with the lifting body. Very rare book apparently, I've lost my copy and cannot remember the title. Anyone remember it? I have searched Amazon and Powell's for it with no luck.
Most of these are out of print and some may be very hard to find. All of them worth the effort.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.