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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about Viper Pilot

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

FINALLY A Pilot Tells it Like it is!!

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.

13 people found this helpful

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Bubbleheads can write--who knew?!

Would you listen to Viper Pilot again? Why?

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

What was one of the most memorable moments of Viper Pilot?

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.

What does John Pruden bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

GREAT narration! Pruden actually nailed ALL the acronyms, something you don't often hear in audiobooks. Made the listen MUCH more enjoyable.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Please God, Tom Cruise isn't going to be in this, is he?

13 people found this helpful

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WOW!

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.

4 people found this helpful

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wonderful!

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!

8 people found this helpful

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Fast and Furious

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!

6 people found this helpful

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A bit egomaniacal even for the title

Perhaps this was the wrong book to follow the story of John Boyd with, but this seemed over the top with ego. Even still, ever grateful for my fellow brothers in arms, especially the ones going mach speed with SAMs chasing them.

2 people found this helpful

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Didn’t finish

I have great respect for the author and am grateful for his service to our country. That said, the egocentricity and arrogance that may make for a great fighter pilot do not translate well into story telling. The frat boy mentality and self-aggrandizement conjure up visions of the glory days of Tailhook and the condescending attitude toward co-workers and xenophobic thread throughout this narrative led me to bail out on the mission prior to conclusion. The author’s innocent attribution of one of Newton’s basic laws to Einstein just confirms that the fighter pilot’s “rely only on yourself” mentality lends itself to egregious errors of writing/editing.

2 people found this helpful

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Riveting -edge of your seat story

I almost didn't pick this one because there were some mixed reviews. I'm sure glad I did as this was one of the better first-person accounts I've read. The author writes with such incredible detail that you feel as though you are in the cockpit next to him.

IMO this book serves a a lesson to today's generals as well. First- we succeeded in the gulf wars because we had trained to fight a super power (Russia). Also, in an era where many rear echelon generals are in charge of the military, and claiming that robot plains will replace fighter pilots and ground troops - we must never forget that wars will always be won through a combination of combat pilots AND infantry working towards a common objective.

The book was informative and entertaining and I'm certainly glad I selected it.

2 people found this helpful

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Good, Modern view from the air.

If you could sum up Viper Pilot in three words, what would they be?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Want to know what it is like to be a fighter jock?

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!

2 people found this helpful

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  • gregg
  • 10-01-20

A great one for aviation enthusiasts

I've been getting into DCS during lockdown so Ive learned some NATO radio brevity which really helped visualise the action sequences in this book, and in turn this book really helped renforce what I've learned and expand on it greatly. Hitting SAM sites with a guided missile from the comfort of my living room is challenge enough for me right now, so hitting one point blank with a bomb while dealing with the stress of g forces and leading a team is pretty much heroic in my eyes. Felt like it went into a bit of a rant there at the end though. Would give 4.5 stars if I could.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lars Hagen
  • 05-19-21

Adrenaline kick for an ol’ fighter pilot:

Just my kind of an operational fighter pilot. With a one mission life expectancy over the Cola Penninsula during the 1970ies, it is professionally reassuring to read that the USAF later got their act together and produced real warrior pilots, who had balls and knew their stuff! With this equipment and knowhow we could have stood a chance against SA-6s and the dreaded ZSU-23s. as well. We were just political canon fodder if we ever had been launched towards Monchegorsk or take on the Northern Fleet. This shows what brave men can do with the right tools and- training in the real world. You can feel the sweat and G-forces by just reading this, if you have ever seen 450kts and 6 Gs on the clock! Shit hot!

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  • Dovydas
  • 02-16-21

Real life hero

For a fighter jet enthusiast, this is just priceless! Clear and easy to understand explanations of tactical stuff makes it easy to understand. Narrator let's you almost feel some of the action. And this fighter pilot is really a true real life hero! What a life!

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  • Francisco Presa
  • 01-06-21

You are in the cockpit!!

As other have said, author is a bit too cocky and some not so nice jokes about other countries but, it is a very good book. Totally recomended!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-11-19

Not a bad story

Not a bad book but the guy is so arrogant it spoils the story.

I did this I did that I’m awesome anyone who is not me is not awesome.

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  • Leon
  • 10-04-19

Great book about action and commentary

It was a great book, not the usual - I started, I fought and I finished. The author takes a wander around his career flying these aircraft. He talks about how his bit of military flying started, and what he did to get there.

A great listen, with bits of history and authors opinion as well.

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  • bernie
  • 08-29-19

Great narrator! Great read for combat flight nuts

Funny story about the Officers Bar, and great detailed stories about the comms, activities and thoughts in the heat of critical moments of the writers combat service.

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  • slick0074
  • 07-14-18

Excellent!

I wasn't expecting much from this one. It took me a few minutes to get used to the narrator's American accent, but I really got to love this book. It's interesting, factual and has some good humour. I know I will return to this one in the future.

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  • guy castle
  • 09-25-17

fantastic book really enjoyed it.

loved it. really good to see the life of a viper pilot from his own eyes and experience.

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  • Bobbyinrhyl
  • 08-27-16

Real good read

At last I can get an early nights sleep. This is a real, Just 5 more minutes book.

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  • Bennett Ring
  • 05-06-21

Must-read Modern Combat Aviation boom

Absolutely loved this book. The author writes more like a professional storyteller than a pilot, and boy does he have some amazing stories to tell.

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  • Nick
  • 08-12-18

Exciting listening

Viper pilot was well narrated and a great account of life as fighter pilot. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in war, planes and air combat.

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  • Hamish
  • 10-16-16

Another Dan Hampton beauty!

Entertaining informative, and at times very humorous.
I got through it in (for me) record time.
Very highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-24-18

crap

what boring piece of crap . The most danger this so called hero was in was running out of fuel crap