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Gandt, Robert

GANDT, Robert

PERSONAL:

Male; married, wife's name, Anne.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Daytona Beach, FL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Putnam/Viking, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

CAREER:

Pan American World Airways, pilot and airline captain, 1965-1991; Delta Air Lines, airline captain and international line check airman, 1991—. Redhawk Aerobatic Team, founder and pilot, 1985—. Worked as a flight instructor, weapons test pilot, crop duster, and airshow pilot and performer. Military service: U.S. Navy, fighter/attack pilot.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

With Hostile Intent, Signet Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Acts of Vengeance, Signet Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Black Star, Signet Books (New York, NY, 2003.

Shadows of War, Signet Books (New York, NY), 2004.

NONFICTION

Season of Storms: The Siege of Hongkong, 1941, South China Morning Post, Publications Division (Hong Kong, China), 1982.

China Clipper: The Age of the Great Flying Boats, Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, MD), 1991.

Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

Bogeys and Bandits: The Making of a Fighter Pilot, Viking (New York, NY), 1997.

Fly Low, Fly Fast: Inside the Reno Air Races, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.

Writer and consultant for the television series Pensacola: Wings of Gold. Contributor to periodicals, including South China Morning Post.

SIDELIGHTS:

A former military fighter pilot and commercial airline captain, Robert Gandt writes books primarily focused on aeronautical subjects and aviation history. Gandt is also the author of four novels, all with a military adventure and aviation theme.

China Clipper: The Age of the Great Flying Boats recounts the era of the flying boats. Known as China Clippers, the boats provided luxurious passenger service during the extended voyages between destinations such as San Francisco and Hong Kong, with exotic island stops in transit. Using records from the Pan American Airways archives, Gandt "has written a readable account of the development of the flying boats and the airlines that led to the first trans-Pacific" and subsequently trans-Atlantic airline service in the 1930s, noted Choice critic R. Higham. The flying boats, Higham related, were developed in part due to the fact that in most parts of the world, airports were too small to handle planes of the size needed to fly long distances. The way around this was to have planes that could land on water. After World War II, better airports were developed throughout the world, and the era of the clipper came to an end. Gandt "covers all the players with an agreeable style and a pilot's eye for details," commented Daniel Ford in Air & Space. Ford concluded that the book "is a worthy memorial to the airline at the time of its glory."

In Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am, Gandt offers "A veteran pilot's affectionate, anecdotal take on the slow death of Pan American World Airways," which ceased operation at the end of 1991, commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. Gandt flew for Pan Am for twenty-six years, and his technical expertise and insider's viewpoint adds authenticity to the story of the airline's slow demise. He recounts the company's early years and healthy prime under the stewardship of founder Juan Trippe, "an often infuriating innovator" who led the company to prosperity, noted the Kirkus Reviews writer. A bit of business arrogance and inflated belief in the company's value and ability to persist may have helped start the gradual decline. The company invested in more jets than they could fly at a profit. Deregulation of the airline industry caused Pan Am to make many mistakes in market forecasting and labor relations. Perhaps most damaging was the fact that Tripp's handpicked successor was unable to carry on successfully after Tripp retired. In the end, the company died as a result of "bad management and bad luck," a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted. "With a full ration of fine yarns from the cockpit and flight line, [Skygods is] a genial requiem for a once consequential heavyweight," the Kirkus Reviews critic noted. James P. Woolsey, writing in Air Transport World, compared the book to the movie Apollo 13. "You already know the ending," Woolsey remarked "but it's a good read anyway."

Bogeys and Bandits: The Making of a Fighter Pilot recounts the stories of eight aviation students, six men and two women, in training to fly the Navy's FA-18 Hornet—training that Gandt himself had experienced twenty-five years earlier. Gandt follows the trainees from their initial briefing to their service in the fleet, himself participating in the training and hoping to once again get behind the stick of an FA-18. He reveals, however, that he probably would not qualify for pilot training today in a training program focused on class ranking more than simple willingness to volunteer for pilot duty. Booklist contributor Roland Green called the book "a detailed, powerful, and thoroughly absorbing account of a process that cannot be made either simple or safe and still accomplish its purpose" of turning out highly skilled, technologically sophisticated, combat-ready pilots. A Kirkus Reviews writer called the book "a fascinating look into an arcane, risky, high-tech world inhabited by bright, brave youngsters."

Gandt's published fiction includes four novels: With Hostile Intent, Acts of Vengeance, Black Star, and Shadows of War. His first novel, With Hostile Intent, introduces recurring character Brick Maxwell, a Navy Hornet pilot. As a member of a Hornet squadron on the Iraqi border, Maxwell and his colleagues are constantly harassed by Iraqi pilots who fly just close enough to trigger alerts, knowing that the American pilots cannot engage in combat without clear evidence of hostile intent. When an annoying MiG finally goes down, reasons for its crash are unclear, but both sides are on full alert and stand ready to plunge into a determined air war. In Shadows of War, an old buddy of Maxwell's, thought KIA in the first Gulf war, is determined to be alive during a POW exchange. The man's frantic wife asks Maxwell to investigate, but a secret CIA agenda and an unexpected betrayal endangers not only the investigation, it also places Maxwell directly into harm's way. Indeed, Gandt's extensive knowledge of the American air force is put to good use in several realistic thrillers.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Air & Space, June/July, 1992, review of China Clipper: The Age of the Great Flying Boats, p. 81.

Air Transport World, October, 1995, James P. Woolsey, review of Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am, p. 140.

Booklist, May 15, 1997, Roland Green, review of Bogeys and Bandits: The Making of a Fighter Pilot, p. 1545.

Choice, July/August, 1992, R. Higham, review of China Clipper, p. 1732.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1995, review of Skygods, p. 46; April 15, 1997, review of Bogeys and Bandits, p. 607.

Publishers Weekly, January 30, 1995, review of Skygods, p. 92; May 5, 1997, review of Bogeys and Bandits, p. 188; September 17, 2001, Brianna Yamashita, review of With Hostile Intent, p. 62.

ONLINE

Penguin Putnam Web sitehttp://www.penguinputnam.com/ (February 1, 2005), biography of Robert Gandt.

Robert Gandt Home Page,http://www.gandt.com (February 19, 2005).*

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