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Saturday, 11 April 2015

How did it all start?

I flew fast jets for many years, first the F4 Phantom and then the Tornado F3. As a navigator I had the big advantage of not having to control the aeroplane so when I had a camera along for the ride, I could snap away without the ever present fear of parking the jet in a field.

My collection of photographs began the minute I stepped foot in a Phantom but, with the quality of camera that I could afford in those days, the early results were hardly classics. As my meagre salary as a Flying Officer increased a little, I could finally afford an SLR camera and things looked up. Even so, with wet film there was a two week wait between clicking the shutter and the processed pictures dropping through the letter box. From the confines of the cockpit snapping that elusive masterpiece was a challenge.

What does this have to do with writing you ask? When I hung up my flying boots, I had always promised myself that I would try to publish some of the pictures as a historical record. After approaching a few publishers and receiving the customary rejections I met a supportive commissioning editor who was embarking on a new venture with a specialist military publishing company. Perfect! Discussions made it obvious that picture books, particularly full page colour pictures books, were no longer a commercial proposition in the modern publishing world. The publisher wanted words to go with the pictures. After the shock and with the challenge set I began tapping out a chronicle of what it was like to fly the mighty Phantom. Two years and 100,000 words later the pictures had words to accompany them. "Phantom In Focus - A Navigator's Eye on Britain's Cold War Warrior was published by Fonthill Media in 2012.

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