by Wing Commander E C Arundel, AFC, RNZAF (Retd)
Published by Brian Riggir, Tauranga, 2002, price $39.95 plus $5p&p. The book (386 pages) is available from Brian Riggir, P0 Box 8099, Tauranga.
Reviewed by Geoffrey Bentley
If you served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force between 1950 and 1970 you will love this book. If you have never been a member of the RNZAF but are interested in flying, civil or military, you are still going to get a great deal from it.
“The Sport of Kings” is one man’s account of his own career in the Flying Branch of the RNZAF. Ted Arundel was a member of No 1 Postwar Aircrew Course as a cadet pilot in 1948, having served in the Air Training Corps and gone solo with the Wellington Aero Club prior to enlisting. His subsequent career was heavily weighted towards flying, more so than many contemporaries who had administrative appointments sandwiched between the flying ones.
It is a detailed account and the author’s recollection of events is nothing short of remarkable. (Perhaps he kept a diary over the years?) His narrative seizes the imagination and he takes the reader with him in a series of experiences that make excellent reading.
The book will appeal to anyone with an interest in aviation but primarily it is a book for pilots. Flying accidents are discussed, so are mess parties, and his account of the 1951 Waterfront Strike, when the Armed Forces manned the Wellington wharves for six months, is both illuminating and highly entertaining.
It is a pity the text is studded with so many misspelt words and names. A “bazaar” experience, “antiroom” and “Cook Straight” throughout the whole text; it is a pity the author did not use an experienced editor.
But these are minor quibbles. This is a very good book. Ted Arundel’s experiences (and his comments on the experiences of others) make compelling reading as he climbs the career ladder from Mosquito pilot to Senior Air Staff Officer and eventually to Flight Operations Training Officer within Air New Zealand.
The book is handsomely illustrated. A pity about the title, though. I thought it misleading and inappropriate.