Before reading 'Moggy's Tuna Manual' I had little knowledge of helicopters. They were those whirligig things up there that I admired from a distance for their terrific, big sound implying power. What I brought to this book was an engineering and sailing background, along with a curiosity about how machines work and how humans interact with them.
On getting into it, I soon found that 'Moggy's Tuna manual' is a book for both pilots and the armchair adventurer. We armchair adventurers might want to start with the section on how a helicopter is controlled. Armed with that, and the excellent glossary of technical terms, you are soon flying along with a fair understanding of what it is all about.
By means of real life scenarios and near misses, we get a good idea of the challenges a helicopter pilot faces during ocean tuna fishing. These stories, and their related video links, make the tuna fishing industry very real; the helicopter's role in fishing, weather considerations, pilot errors, language difficulties, the fragility of a single engined aircraft in the marine environment. It is all here.
I'm not a pilot, but I can see how this manual would be very useful for new pilots to learn from and for old hands to refresh with. They might even extend their flying days. The fatality rate in this game is high. The many examples of pilots getting it wrong are used here to great effect to show, for example, how landings and take-offs from a rolling ship can be done more safely. These hazards, and much more, await the unwary. As a sailor, the warnings against relying on GPS as the sole navigational aid are very real to me. Yet, it seems many pilots do just that, rely on the GPS alone. And sadly, they do get into trouble.
I was left wondering about this dangerous job of searching for signs of fish in a vast ocean, the helicopter's primary role here. Pilots can find themselves up to thirty miles from the mother-ship with daylight fading and fuel running low. Is this a foolhardy career choice? Or is it a spirited live-on-the-edge extreme sport, that earns a wage? Whatever the answer, as a safely hard aground armchair pilot, I found it a page turner from beginning to end. I even learned the basics of flying a chopper! Unfortunately, helicopters now also frighten me. I will never again see them as just those whirligig things up there.
I'm inclined to see this tuna hunting game as one of the maddest extreme sports on the planet. There are those who love their extreme sport. Let them at it, I say. But it might be no harm to reduce the risks somewhat by learning from the first hand experiences of this pilot. Moggy comes over as a natural teacher, a coach even, who makes all clear in his own unique and accessible way.
Besides, this a great read, even if you do not like school.
(reviewed 34 days after purchase)