Books PhotoReading Thoughts

Portrait of a Legend, Spitfire

Whilst working with the Texas Instruments computer distributor Saudi Computer Services in Saudi Arabia, I discovered the joy of reading, from fiction, the books of Wilbur Smith, Ken Follett, Jack Higgins, the classics of Charles Dickens, great titles of The Wizard of OZ, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, to technical books, from the Idiots Guides range, the Introducing range, to books on specific subjects about my chosen fields of work on NLP, Hypnosis, Memory.

I joy of reading was further enhanced by learning PhotoReading, being able to absorb 20,000 – 30,000 WPM.

After PhotoReading a book, then reading word for word, line by line made so much difference, it gives me the desire the urge to want to read the book.

So it was with the two books I purchased at Heathrow airport a couple of trips ago, well there was a special offer, “two books for the price of one“.

The first book was by the BBC‘s Top Gear program presenter, James May. This was a typical impulse buy, the author’s name caught my attention, the cover looked good, and there was a special offer. The title also attracted me, “James May’s Magnificent Machines“, with a sub title of “How men in sheds have changed our lives“.

The book told me little I did not know, it referred a couple of times to how inventors in the past often worked in small back rooms or sheds, with little or no facilities, for example Marconi the pioneer of radio, Reginald J Mitchell designer of the winner of the air race in the 1930’s, the Schneider Cup, and from that the development into the great wartime plane, the Supermarine Spitfire.

One thing which got me going whilst reading James May’s book, was that he talked about how the French car manufacturer Citroën, “pioneered some ideas touted as new by other manufacturers at the end of the 20th century, and he states “the styling was, and still is, fabulous in the real sense of the word (which is why it appears on the cover).” I have looked long and hard Mr May, and found no picture of Citroën car.

The second “free” book was titled Portrait of a Legend Spitfire, by Leo McKinstry. This is a book about the great Second World War aircraft, the Spitfire.

The latest world air races sponsored by Red Bull, has something that captures peoples imagination, the speed the sound, the thrills. So it is with the mighty Spitfire, with the purring and throbbing Rolls Royce Merlin engines (see pictures click here), the curves of the fuselage, sleek and smooth, the thin curved elliptical wings. 

This well researched book by McKinstry, calls on written works from many sources, quoting from all sides, from all involved in the Spitfires design, production, management, to those that flew the Spitfire in its’ various variants, models or marks, to those that fought against it.

Spitfire wallpaper from Spitfire wallpaper from

              Supermarine Spitfire F.24 PK724 RAF Hendon  Supermarine Spitfire F.24 PK724 RAF Hedon 

Supermarine Spitfire LF.XVIE
Supermarine Spitfire LF.XVIE.

Copyright Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum RAF Hendon

McKinstry gives all the warts, the bad bits about the aircraft, the politicians, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook, the manufacturers, Lord Nufffied, R J Mitchell, the military leaders like Sir Hugh Dowding, Sir Leigh-Mallory, pilots, Douglas Bader, as well as the good things about the Spitfire.

The book gave me not only a new in depth look at the Supermarine Spitfire, but also a new look at the history of the period, of the social climate, of how people pulled or did not pull together at a time of war. It showed me that those I had held in such high esteem, often made bad decisions, but without them, this world would be a different place to the one we know today.

Portrait of a Legend Spitfire is an enthusiasts book, and I have always been a Spitfire lover.


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