Aviation Book Review: Tango Trajectory by Dale W. Cox

The cover intrigued me, unfortunately more than the actual story.

The cover intrigued me, unfortunately more than the actual story.

I love a good book.  A good book about military aircraft is even better, and when it is free how can I turn it down?  Just to be totally clear, I was approached by the publisher to read this book and put up a review on my blog.  I am happy to help out anyone in aviation so I gladly agreed to do so.

The name of the book is Tango Trajectory by Dale W. Cox.  Rather than give you my own synopsis, I will just share the Amazon one and give you my thoughts on the book:

A young Latina Navy test pilot becomes the first woman to fly “spook missions” from the secret Groom Lake Air Base in Nevada. Her success in locating a terrorist base enrages the Wahhabi al Furan, who plot to kill her, and her fellow test pilots.

Selected as the first woman to fly a Mach 7 spyplane, Lieutenant Teresa O’Brien faces intense hostility. The three resident male test pilots don’t intend to coddle a woman neophyte with only 1900 hours, forced into their ranks by a powerful Congresswoman. How to sink her career requires clever planning and, before she reports in, Major Rick McQuilkin is assigned the task. McQuilkin meets O’Brien and, instead of the expected female wrestler type, he finds an attractive young woman with a friendly smile. She proves more capable than expected, a quick learner with several years experience flying off Navy aircraft carriers. This upsets his designs for cutting her out of the program. Terri in turn discovers that Rick is more vulnerable than his macho exterior reveals. Although he tries to hide them, serious problems could ground him and he still carries deep scars from the bitter split with his long-time girlfriend.

A Wahhabi assassin, poised to kill Lt. O’Brien, is thwarted by a stranger’s intervention. The CIA/FBI team investigating the failed assassination receives hints of more lethal missions involving nuclear weapons. A young hooker, servicing a Saudi Prince, reports that seven jihad warriors are preparing to cross the radioactive nuclear test site, attack the secret base and kill the four test pilots.

The Taurora is based on an actual Mach 7 plane first revealed to the American public by an article in the Wall Street Journal in 1992.  The author, a former Navy test pilot, holds two official transcontinental speed records, Los Angeles-New York and New York-Los Angeles, and was a contender in the Mercury astronaut program.

That really sums up the book more concisely than I could have, and sadly it is just about as entertaining as reading the whole book.  I went into reading this book really hoping to enjoy it but I honestly had a hard time getting into it because the early parts of the book take forever to get anywhere.  I don’t know that it is fair to compare anyone to Tom Clancy, but in every single one of his books he started with a chapter that gets you so excited you have to read the whole book, and he never resolves it until the end.

With this book it was pretty apparent how it would end after reading the first chapter.  There really were no twists or turns of any kind.  The story is a little thin and really doesn’t get you excited about the possibilities of what may happen.  I even found some of the writing itself to be frustrating to read.

The dialogue between characters feels incredibly forced, and in the case of the hooker mentioned in the synopsis, it was almost impossible to follow what she was supposed to be saying.  Here is one small example, “She tol’ me Ah was too curious, always ready ta stick mah nose inta other people’s bizz’ness…”  I understand trying to paint the picture of a character but it could have been done far more effectively by describing them without making it confusing to read.

I don’t want it to sound like this book had no redeeming qualities, because it did.  The sections that talked about the flying the plane, which were far too few, were excellently written.  It was clear in these sections that the author knew his stuff, which makes sense with his background.  As an avgeek who loves all of the thrills of aviation I found myself daydreaming about flying something that powerful.  It was these sections that kept me reading until the end.  Though it was disappointing to me that a book based on a secret plane with an arrogant test pilot ended with a small fight on the ground that had nothing to do with flying.

By the time I got to the end of the book I didn’t feel like I had wasted my time, but I walked away hoping for so much more.  It is clear that Mr. Cox loves flying and does a decent job transferring that feeling to the reader, but instead of building on that he spent way more time trying to develop an obvious love interest and a terrorist attack that was pretty obvious in a matter of a page or two.  Had the areas of emphasis been reversed this could have been a far more enjoyable book.

Should you stumble across a copy and really be looking for something to read then you may find a small level of entertainment from the book as I did.  However, I don’t think I would spend a large amount of money on it.  It is currently available on Amazon in a paperback and Kindle version which comes in at a price that is probably worth it for something to read over a long trip or something of that nature.