Cover image for Vipers in the storm : diary of a Gulf War fighter pilot
Vipers in the storm : diary of a Gulf War fighter pilot
Rosenkranz, Keith.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : McGraw-Hill, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 325 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS79.74 .R67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



F-16 fighter aircraft are known officially by the name Falcon. The pilots who fly them call them Vipers. This is a firsthand account of 30 combat missions in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It is a detailed and accurate documentation of aerial warfare during the Gulf War.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Rosenkranz adds usefully to the literature on the air side of the Gulf War with this memoir that doubles as kind of a love song to the F-16 Fighting Falcon or "Viper." Bearing the brunt of the air force's close-support work in the Gulf, the F-16 distinguished itself through high performance and low losses, and because, though designed as a day fighter, it operated effectively at night, with the aid of infrared navigation and targeting devices. Rosenkranz reports the exhilaration of combat flying and the less agreeable aspects of war: separation from family, superiors with no sense about handling people, squadron loyalties, spine-grinding 17-hour deployment flights, multiple aerial refuelings, and the loss of friends and comrades to enemy action and the hazards of flying. Unusually eloquent on all of this and on the moral dimension of combat flying, Rosenkranz also makes no secret of seeing in his imagination the Iraqis he was killing. Highly recommended for contemporary military collections. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

Air operations in the Gulf War of 1990-1991 have most frequently been either the subject of theoretical analysis or presented from a cockpit perspective. This first-rate memoir bridges the gap, telling the story of life in a front-line squadron while integrating a first-person account into the wider contexts of modern air warfare. Rosenkranz was a captain flying Vipers, F-16 fighters, out of Al Minhad, Saudi Arabia. He takes his readers through the autumn buildup; his own questions about what it meant to kill people; the importance of mail from home; the constant waiting for a call that finally came on the night of January 18, 1991. He conveys the irony of men trained for years in air-to-air combat being committed to ground strikes‘the most dangerous kind of mission for an F-16. Rosenkranz flew against Baghdad, against Iraqi troops and tanks before the ground war started, and against the fugitives fleeing from Kuwait City along "Hell's Highway." He emphasizes the synergy of modern electronics and human skills required when seeking out small targets while running a gauntlet of anti-aircraft fire. He also establishes beyond question that, talk of "smart weapons" to the contrary, his was not a "technowar" of smoothly pushed buttons. Bombs failed to explode. Target information was incomplete. The sky remained unforgiving of mistakes. Rosenkranz accepted the legitimacy of America's commitment in the Gulf, but neither he nor his squadron mates were happy warriors. They were professionals who wanted to do their jobs and go home alive‘in that order. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Dick Cheney
Forewordp. viii
Chapter 1 Green Flagp. 1
Chapter 2 Oil and Warp. 8
Chapter 3 Viperp. 13
Chapter 4 The Storm Gathersp. 25
Chapter 5 Waiting for Saddamp. 30
Chapter 6 First Legp. 37
Chapter 7 Incredible Journeyp. 45
Chapter 8 In Countryp. 57
Chapter 9 Unexpected Transferp. 63
Chapter 10 Groundedp. 72
Chapter 11 Black Widowp. 84
Chapter 12 LANTIRNp. 91
Chapter 13 Tactics and Moralep. 96
Chapter 14 T-Rack Steps Inp. 102
Chapter 15 Belongingp. 108
Chapter 16 Thanksgiving Comes--and Goesp. 112
Chapter 17 Crowded Skiesp. 119
Chapter 18 We Own the Nightp. 126
Chapter 19 A New Yearp. 131
Chapter 20 Fallen Warriorp. 139
Chapter 21 The Inevitablep. 147
Chapter 22 War Beginsp. 158
Chapter 23 Defining Momentp. 165
Chapter 24 Mission from Hellp. 178
Chapter 25 Mother of All Battlesp. 188
Chapter 26 Phase Twop. 194
Chapter 27 The Mailman Deliversp. 201
Chapter 28 Patriotismp. 210
Chapter 29 Friendly Firep. 218
Chapter 30 Killer Scoutsp. 227
Chapter 31 Edge of the Envelopep. 233
Chapter 32 Maverickp. 243
Chapter 33 Proposal for Peacep. 252
Chapter 34 Play Timep. 258
Chapter 35 "Altitude...Altitude"p. 270
Chapter 36 Highway of Deathp. 283
Chapter 37 Welcome Homep. 296
Afterthoughtsp. 306
Acknowledgmentsp. 309
Glossaryp. 311
Sourcesp. 317
Indexp. 319