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It was during the 1986 BIH Chinook North Sea crash that I first worked closely with James T Crouse, then at Speiser & Krause. We filed the law suits for United Kingdom clients in New Orleans and I took several trips to see Jim. We remained friends through the Aviation Section of the American Trial Lawyers Association and I was honoured to attend Jim and Edna’s wedding in San Antonio which was a memorable event combined with a local fiesta.

Jim is a retired US helicopter test pilot who flew over 1,500 hours in his 26 year active and reserve career. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. As a Lawyer he has been active in the field of aviation and aviation safety. Jim has taught aviation law at Duke Law School, The George Washington School of Law, and has had his own firm for many years in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I was therefore somewhat surprised to see that Jim had written a novel called ‘Broken Eagle’. It is the story of a Raleigh Attorney, Jake Baird, who takes on a case for a widow whose husband, a US Army helicopter pilot, has been killed on a crash test flight. The novel explores the question of aircraft certification and the relationship between the US Military, its Defence contractors and the Federal Aviation Administration.

I took the novel on holiday with me, not quite knowing what to expect. The shear volume of documentation I read during the day means that I only read for pleasure on holiday. It did not disappoint. It is a fast paced book of political intrigue with great technical detail and characters that you care about. There are also murders and cover-ups and Jim has created real tension.

Jim has consistently talked in interviews about the fact that military personnel have no choice about the products they use at work and he hopes that the novel will result in a change of public perception as to how military personnel and their families are treated. He is interested in the accountability of manufacturers, government officials and agencies and the importance of crash investigation and learning from that process.

Jim is currently working on ‘Wild Horses’ which sees Jake Baird investigating corporate expansion in North Carolina’s Outer Banks where the wild horses of Corolla have roamed for over 500 years, as well as other projects entitled ‘Gulf’ set in Florida and ‘Airliner’.

"I am delighted to recommend Broken Eagle to anyone who is interested in military and aviation safety, although it is fundamentally a good novel which will appeal to a wide readership."

Author, James T Crouse

Published: 18 July 2017

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