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Apache: Ed Macy - Book Review

Updated on July 18, 2015
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An Apache Helicopter at the 2014 Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF FairfordA pair of British Army Apache entertain the crouds at RIAT 2015. 18/07/2015
An Apache Helicopter at the 2014 Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford
An Apache Helicopter at the 2014 Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford | Source
A pair of British Army Apache entertain the crouds at RIAT 2015. 18/07/2015
A pair of British Army Apache entertain the crouds at RIAT 2015. 18/07/2015 | Source

I don't remember the first time I ever saw an Apache helicopter, but what I do know is that I have always been impressed by this fearsome piece of machinery. It's angular sides, array of deadly weapons and the sophisticated longbow radar make it a piece of equipment to admire, whilst really hoping never to be on the receiving end of it's devastating power. Designed to assist in a ground assaults, the AH64 is primarily used by the US Army but in recent years it has seen action with other armed forces such as the Netherlands and Israeli Air Force.

It has also entered service with the British Army since 2004, the airframes being built under license by AgustaWestland as the WAH-64 and it soon became a vital piece of the effort to fight the Taliban in Helmand Provence, Afghanistan. In recent years the work of the aircraft came into focus as Price Harry undertook operational tours in the aircraft. However, much of the work done by the Apache forces is still classified, so an insight into flying and operating this helicopter are still limited.As such, I was very excited when I discovered a book by an ex-Apache pilot, going behind the scenes of a tour of Afghanistan.

I have since read his second book and one by one of his colleagues, all of which I reviewed below and it has further piqued my interest in this amazing helicopter. Despite of it's deadly design, I just can;t wait to see it flying again next time I attend an airshow.

A Selection Of My Own Apache Photos

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A British Army Air Corps Apache at RIAT 2014, RAF FairfordA Netherlands Air Force Apache AH-64 at RIAT 2013, RAF FairfordA Netherlands Air Force Apache AH-64 at RIAT 2013, RAF Fairford
A British Army Air Corps Apache at RIAT 2014, RAF Fairford
A British Army Air Corps Apache at RIAT 2014, RAF Fairford | Source
A Netherlands Air Force Apache AH-64 at RIAT 2013, RAF Fairford
A Netherlands Air Force Apache AH-64 at RIAT 2013, RAF Fairford | Source
A Netherlands Air Force Apache AH-64 at RIAT 2013, RAF Fairford
A Netherlands Air Force Apache AH-64 at RIAT 2013, RAF Fairford | Source

The Author Ed Macy

Ed Macy, which I believe is a pseudonym, served in the British Army for 23 years before leaving in 2008. He had started out as a paratrooper and was considering SAS selection when a traffic accident left him seriously injured. However, he started to retrain in the Army Air Corps, soon qualifying as a helicopter pilot. When the British Army took delivery of it's first Apaches he was desperate to be involved and worked through the grueling training regime to be one of the first selected. Even some of the best pilots fail to qualify for the Apache given the skills required to operate it such as the ability to operate your two eyes independently of each other.

In November 2006 Macy headed back to Afghanistan for a second tour of duty in the Apache. He had planned on demobbing after his previous tour but a lack of fully trained Weapons officer meant that he had had his arm twisted in to doing one more tour. This book is his story of that tour.

Apache: Ed Macy

Apache
Apache

There can't be a better endorsement of a book than the fact that whilst reading this book, I regularly found myself late to bed as I had become so engrossed in the tale it was telling.

The book, written in a diary type format, has the author talking you through the experiences of his final tour to Afghanistan. His previous tour was meant to have been his last but a lack of qualified weapons officers saw him return for one last time and you soon start to get a feel for what it must be like for these pilots and their supporting crews in a war zone. Always on call and never sure if they will be doing a simple recce flight or racing to help out troops on the ground, the Apaches quickly became a key member of the coalition forces.

The book starts as Macy and his new boss arrive in Afghanistan and start preparing for the tour. It had only been a matter of months since Macy had last been in the country but his boss, who also happens to be Macy's new co-pilot, this was a first time. However, things are never easy and even on the first 'familiarisation' flight saw Macy and the Boss have to fly off and take part in a battle. However, despite Macy being a weapons officer, he still has issues on this first battle, an errant rocket leading to his future callsign, Elton (after the song Rocket Man).

Throughout the book you really start to get a feel for what it must be like being in a front line helicopter squadron. From the fun and banter that takes place when at base and also in the air as they come back from missions, to the intensity of firing and killing hostile forces. There are also emotional parts such as when he finds out at Christmas that his partner is expecting a baby. The text is interspersed with snippets of conversations and commands which gives a level of detail and authenticity. Whether of not the conversations and grid references are close to a real representation is one that one can only guess but it always kept me interested.

The book reaches a crescendo with an in depth description of the Battle of Jugroom Fort. In a chaotic ground battle a soldier was seriously injured and had Taliban troops closing in. The Apaches were providing aerial cover but as the chances of recovery dragged on, the pilots on the air put together a plan to land and extract the soldier. The Apache had been designed to be able to extract another person strapped to the side so after much discussion, Macy and his wingman flew in with soldiers strapped on, extracting the injured soldier after a chaotic time on the ground. This can be seen in the video below. Unfortunately the soldier had died and there was a lot of soul searching for the crews involved, especially as they had disobeyed several rules and were at risk of getting in to serious trouble with the higher echelons. This was one of the last actions of the tour and before long, Macy was returning to the UK for the last time.

I really enjoyed this book and as soon as I had finished it I was downloading the sequel book by Macy and also one by a fellow aviator, Charlotte Madison, both reviewed below.

 

If like me you are based in the UK then please find this great book here:
Apache: Ed Macy

If like me you are based in the UK then please find this great book here:
Hellfire: Ed Macy

A British Army Air Corps Apache performs a simulated attack at RIAT 2014, RAF Fairford
A British Army Air Corps Apache performs a simulated attack at RIAT 2014, RAF Fairford | Source

Dressed to Kill: Charlotte Madison

Dressed to Kill
Dressed to Kill

Throughout Apache, Ed Macy makes regular references to other members of the squadron, one in particular is Charlie, the only girl pilot. Obviously being a girl in a traditionally man's world could be tough but Macy is always complimentary.

When I saw that Charlie AKA Charlotte Madison (another pseudonym) had also written a book, I thought it was well worth reading to get a different perspective on the mission and life within the squadron.

Rather than focus on one part of here career, Charlie looks at here entire career, all the way from being involed in the Officer Training Corp at University, all the way through to demobbing after three tours of Afghanistan, one of which being the one focused on in Apache.

The thing that is ommediatley clear in reading book against those by Macy is the difference in how things are viewed by the sexes. Whilst Macy is very factual and machismo about the missions undertaken, Madison goes in to much more depth about how she feels about it all. On one mission for example she sees up close on her screen a British soldier be killed, an incident referenced in Apache, and she also has to kill fighters.of the Taliban that she is more open about affecting her. However, one thing that is surprising is the lack of references to Macy. As mentioned he speaks a lot about her but with the exception of one reference to his callsign of Elton after the botched Rocket attack, she tends to focus only on here immediate crew mates.

She also speaks about things that would probably never even cross the mind of a male colleague, like keeping her weight down in preparation for her wedding and discussing plans with the few other females friends that she makes on the front line. It is one of these such friendships that leads to the heart wrenching story when she is involved in a fight where a soldier is killed who turns out to be the husband of one if her best friends from her first tour.

Overall, whereas Macy speaks in a way that you feel he is proud of what he achieved, whilst Madison is proud of her success as a pilot, you do think she is more cautious about whether or not the war and her actions were right. Perhaps because I am male, I found this book much harder to read than the other two in this hub as too often it got a bit emotional and, in the words of Madison at one point, whiny. However, that isn't to detract from what was a very good book to read and did give a completely different flavour to the Apache helicopter and the crews that fly it.

 

The below video shows the Apache pictured earlier in this hub performing at RIAT 2014 including a simulated attack.

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    • stereomike83 profile image
      Author

      stereomike83 2 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the share and hope that you enjoy the books if you download them. There are actually quite a few countries using the helicopter these days, I was quite surprised when I was researching this hub to find nations like Greece, Japan and UAE amongst others also fly the Apache.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Great reviews. I will be buying. Did not know that the Brits used the Apache. Thx. Shared.