A hundred years ago, with German U-boats and battleships terrorising Allied shipping and zeppelins bombing Britain’s towns and cities, Ulster-Scots teenager Jack McCleery was one of 12 young men tasked with a deadly mission on board the navy’s ‘mystery ship’. In Captain Jack and the Furious Few, David Hayman reveals the story of the test pilots of the world’s first aircraft carrier, HMS Furious. The top guns of their day, their secret mission would revolutionise warfare.
A gifted pilot, Jack McCleery was head-hunted by the navy after just nine months of intensive flight training. He was posted to the newly commissioned HMS Furious in 1917, where he would serve for two years as part of an elite squadron of test pilots.
Their mission was to land a wheeled plane on the deck of a moving vessel in order to develop and test the techniques and technology that would convert the Furious into the world’s first dedicated aircraft carrier, capable of launching a strategic air attack on Britain’s enemies – but nothing like this had ever been attempted before.
Flying from the deck of HMS Furious, the bravery and sacrifice of those 12 Royal Navy test pilots would change the course of warfare forever. Jack McCleery’s diaries, letters and personal archive of sketches and previously unseen photographs are a unique record of that extraordinary period in his own life, and in the history of aviation.