This book captures the experience of the South African Air Force helicopter pilot as never before; from 'rookie' to seasoned combat aviator in one of history's most intense counter-insurgency conflicts - the South African Border War.
Nick Lithgow's work relates the gruelling endurance of SADF National Service and its grind, grind, grind ... until one day, helicopter drills with an SAAF Puma, saw him optimistically apply for pilot training. Called to Pretoria, Nick completed the mandatory tests before returning to the Border to complete his duty.
At the end of his National Service, Nick was surprised to receive instructions to report to the Air Force Gymnasium in Valhalla. Here he began training began in earnest with Harvard fixed wing trainers and the Impala jet, before long Nick had progressed to rotary aircraft - training on the Alouette and graduating to the Puma under the guidance of one of the SAAF's legendary instructors, 'Monster Wilkins'.
An operational tour in Rhodesia followed with deployment to the South West African/Namibian Border. Here Search and Rescue, troop carrying and close air support operations became the order of the day -an intense cycle of briefings and operations with the ever present threat of small arms fire and surface to air missiles.
LZ Hot! is an unrivalled work - it relates the drama of recovering downed fighter pilots under fire, responding to the horror of mine-strikes with soldiers dreadfully injured and needing urgent evacuation, or deep penetration operations into Angola in support of South African Special Forces. It also relates the candour of mess life, the characters and incidents that amuse, delivering much needed relief from the demands of operational flying - Nick's accounts of mess dinner high-jinks are especially entertaining!
Flying mountain rescue missions and responding to terrifying shipwrecks, Lithgow takes all in his stride. LZ Hot! is a stunning, captivating read.
LZ Hot! is not a stiff autobiography; it is, rather, a set of amusing and even nostalgic reflections on an adventurous past. A truly enjoyable, irreverent and informative adventure recounted in the casual vernacular of a bush war chopper pilot. I read the book in two sittings and recommend it to all those who remember the distinctive sound of a Puma in the bush.
DEFENCE WEB, South Africa
His tales will make you laugh and pause for those left behind, so crack a beer and raise a toast to anyone that has ever been yelled at by a Cpl in basic training, slept on the floor to make sure a bed is fit for inspection, had a close call during an operation and lived or have lost a friend in the service of your country. This book is for you.
SABRETACHE, MILITARY QUARTERLY OF AUSTRALIA,