Reach for the Sky
THE ORIGINAL EDITION IN FULL MOROCCO
Published: Collins, 
Stock code: 32502
8vo., First Edition, with frontispiece and 24 plates on 12; handsomely bound in navy full morocco, sides with gilt frame border, back with raised bands ruled in gilt, second and fourth compartments ruled and lettered in gilt, all other compartments tooled with gilt propeller, hand-made endpapers, a most attractive copy ideal as a gift or for presentation.
Written by Paul Brickhill (already celebrated as the author of another RAF classic 'The Dam Busters', 1951), 'Reach for the Sky' remains the best account of the legless Battle of Britain hero. It was the basis of Lewis Gilbert's hugely successful feature film (1954) starring Kenneth More in what is arguably his finest role. One of the legendary figures of the Royal Air Force, Douglas Bader was from the outset an outstanding athlete. As a cadet at Cranwell he gained his 'blues' for cricket, rugby, hockey and boxing. He represented the RAF at both cricket and rugby and would probably have been capped for England but for the accident that changed his life and created a legend. In 1931 a near-fatal air crash left him legless. Knowing that no man with such a handicap had ever walked without a stick he nevertheless found his way back to fitness playing tennis, golf and many others sports. He even flew again, until the authorities determined that a pilot without legs could not fly and discharged him from the service. With the outbreak of War he fought to be readmitted, not merely to a desk job, but back to the cockpit. Finally he was given command of a flight which quickly increased to five squadrons as the RAF realised that he was not only an outstanding pilot but an inspired leader of men and a fighter tactician almost of genius. Even as a POW his spirit was such that his captors were forced at one stage to remove his artificial limbs to prevent the chance of his escaping. Enser, p.375 (recording the first edition)