151 combat missions
21 hard kills on surface-to-air-missile sites
Four Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor
One Purple Heart
Sure to rank as one of the greatest aviation memoirs ever written, Viper Pilot is an Air Force legend's thrilling eyewitness account of modern air warfare.
From 1986 to 2006, Lt. Col. Dan Hampton was a leading member of the Wild Weasels, the elite Air Force fighter squadrons whose mission is recognized as the most dangerous job in modern air combat. Weasels are the first planes sent into a war zone, flying deep behind enemy lines purposely seeking to draw fire from surface-to-air missiles and artillery. They must skillfully evade being shot down - and then return to destroy the threats, thereby making the skies safe for everyone else to follow. Today these vital missions are more hazardous than direct air-to-air engagement with enemy aircraft. Hampton's record number of strikes on high-value targets make him the most lethal F-16 Wild Weasel pilot in American history. This is his remarkable story.
Taught to fly at an early age by his father, Hampton logged twenty years and 608 combat hours in the world's most iconic fighter jet: the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", or "Viper" as its pilots call it. Hampton spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq, leading the first flight of fighters over the border en route to strike Baghdad. In the war that followed, he engaged in a series of brilliantly executed missions that earned him three Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor; he notably saved a U.S. Marine unit from certain death by taking out the surrounding enemy forces near Nasiriyah. Two years earlier, on 9/11, Hampton's father was inside the Pentagon when it was attacked; with his dad's fate unknown, Hampton was scrambled into American skies and given the unprecedented orders to shoot down any unidentified aircraft. Hampton also flew critical missions in the first Gulf War, served on the Air Combat Command staff during the Kosovo War, and was injured in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack.
With manned missions rapidly giving way to remote-controlled UAV drones, Viper Pilot may be the last memoir by a true hero of the skies. Gripping and irreverently humorous, it is an unforgettable look into the closed world of fighter pilots and modern air combat.
©2012 Ascalon, LLC (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
This is the type of Fast and Furious I can support. The Wild Weasles help the make life of ground forces a bit easier. Written in the first person, it draws you into the world of the fighter pilot. As I listened, my appreciation for this group of men grew and I was totally fascinated at what they are able in accomplish in mere seconds. I thought the narration was rock solid . So if fast paced books and first hand accounts are your thing, you will love this one!
After having read several reader reviews, I decided to give Viper Pilot a listen with some trepidation. I was pleasantly surprised. You have to accept Hampton's natural arrogance--he flew Lawn Darts and that's hardly a rare trait amongst that crowd. That said, he had an interesting career that anyone who flew fast jets can relate to. And if you just wish you'd had that privilege, you'll be left with a pretty good impression of what it's like to fly fighters in today's Air Force, both the good and the bad. If you like your books politically correct and giving the impression that everyone is wonderful--well, this is probably not going to be your cup of tea--but tell me if you get it so I can come watch your head explode! :-D
The account of launching out on an FCF only to have his (single) engine crap out shortly after takeoff and bring it back around to a safe landing within a couple of minutes takes longer to read than it actually took. This gives you a real appreciation of the kind of skill and knowledge it takes to strap on a modern fighter.
GREAT narration! Pruden actually nailed ALL the acronyms, something you don't often hear in audiobooks. Made the listen MUCH more enjoyable.
Please God, Tom Cruise isn't going to be in this, is he?
Middle aged; long University course (science based), and long service as a professional. Cynical and very interested in the real world.
I was transfixed by the detail and honesty in this book. The flying stories were wonderful and hair raising at times. This man is a true master of his art and his story needs revisiting... and revisiting.... an aviation classic!
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
The sheer brutal, cocky honesty that Hampton writes with is a breath of fresh air. I was expecting a murky, Pentagon-redacted, boring account of his adventures, but was I wrong! Hampton pretty much looks down on everyone that's not a fighter pilot, and yet this confident honesty sucks you right in. You see the world through his point of view, and you actually start "thinking like a fighter pilot".
This no-holds-barred account of a lesser known side of the military is not only fascinating, but exciting as hell. The air combat scenes are spectacular. There aren't many books out there, where the ex-military author truly speaks his mind, without giving a crap what others think, but this is one of them. Deserves 5 stars just for the mere fact that he bucked the trend and didn't write some politically-correct fluff piece about the Air Force.
Narrator is great.
I love the old WWII aircraft stories. Viper brings those stories into present time. I enjoyed the story and learning the differences between then and now. Some things are still the same, but not much.
This book kept me listening. The adrenaline filled battle engagements were described with incredible detail.
John Pruden’s narration rode the wave of emotion that Dan Hampton described.
I particularly appreciated the educational beginning that evolved into full blown combat.
Thank you Dan Hampton for your book but mostly for your service.
Dr. Jim Fox -- Former College Professor and Mental Health Therapist
This is a great book on what it is like. He tells the good and the bad. This is a short book and I unusually read Sci-Fi. But this was one of the most entertaining, honest and hard hitting books I have read (listen) to!
retired electrical /software quality assurance engineer residing in central northern Florida
Nice to hear an account of the current generation of the wild weasel aircraft
My experiences were with previous generations of the type of aircraft
This audio book was exactly what I was looking for. The story and the performance were very good. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the aerial combat. Well worth the time.
Dan Hampton is either as truly gifted as a writer as he was a pilot, or he owes his ghostwriter a huge shout-out and thanks.
This is among the most clearly- written military memoirs I've EVER read or listened to, and the story-telling is direct and compelling. The author(s) do an especially strong job of explaining jargon and some relevant military history in clear terms, readily understandable to a general audience.
The overall editing, though, could have been stronger. As good a job as the author did explaining jargon, etc., the same explanation sometimes gets repeated. My best guess would be that the editor played around with the chapter order, wanted the "sidebars" in both places, then forgot to take out the duplicate material when the book went to press.
That said, the story becomes a bit repetitive. And, as the author sometimes gets carried away with his "humble-bragging," you sometimes wonder how he managed to fit his ego into the cockpit on each mission.
Some of Hampton's carping about substandard sleeping and eating arrangements he endured while stationed overseas comes off as whiny. You wind up wondering if he understands that others engaged in front-line combat don't similarly sleep in "shared" beds and line up cafeterias for meals between each mission. There are, as well, some "score-settling" passages, that come off as petty.
But in a world where it seems like every recently-retired SEAL is writing a book, it's nice to read about a Chair Force officer's experience when going to war -- especially in a book as well-written as this one.
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