In a book that was commended at the time of its publication, General Jean-Paul Salini recalls the memories of his time in the French Air Force, between the 1950s and the 1970s.
Jean-Paul Salini, who joined the Resistance in Corsica at a very young age, is one of those discreet and humble military figures who, each in their own way, have written the History of France. This former pilot retired from the French Air Force at the age of 51, after successively commanding a squadron, a wing, air bases and more, as well as being director of intelligence and general research at the General Secretariat of French National Defense.
So his military career was quite eventful, but also filled with joys and sorrows: so his personal feelings both as a pilot and also as an “ordinary” human being, are offered to the readers of “Derniers Virages”, which is a book of some 300 pages divided into three parts.
In the first part, entitled “Cinq piastres” [Five dollars], the author relates his experience in a combat unit operating over Tonkin, former Indochina (now Vietnam). With many details of the daily life of the pilots, he paints a portrait of his comrades and, among others, pays tribute to squadron leader Michel Brunschwig, who was shot down in that region in 1953, ten years after joining the Free French Forces.
In the second story, “Accident aérien” [Air accident], Jean-Paul Salini, then stationed in Eastern France and at the controls of the Dassault Mystère IVA, has us dive into an investigation after a tragic death that was difficult to explain. In addition to the investigation that followed this mysterious death, the former pilot looks at the multiple human consequences of such a loss.
Finally, in the third and final part of “Derniers Virages”, entitled “À la mémoire du capitaine H” [In Memory of Captain H], which has a surprise ending for the reader, the former military man continues to pay tribute to his traveling companions, whom he still holds in his highest esteem which has not eroded over time, not even after fifty years: “And the memory of my friends will die with me. So I have written this book to make that memory last just that little bit longer”. This almost timeless work won the Medal of the French Academy of Air and Space.
Book. “Derniers Virages”. Author, Jean-Paul Salini. Editions JPO Altipresse. ISBN: 2373011190