Reach for the Sky

Paul Brickhill

Afterword by Douglas Bader

The gripping life-story of Douglas Bader, double amputee and Second World War fighter ace.


The inspirational life-story of Douglas Bader, double amputee and Second World War fighter ace – who repeatedly refused to give up in the face of overwhelming odds. This edition features an afterword by Douglas Bader and contemporary photographs.

The eyes wandered down and absorbed with curiosity that his legs were in peculiar positions. At least his right leg was. He could not see his left leg and forgot about it.

Aged 21, Bader was a rising star in the RAF: an exceptional pilot with a natural flair for stunt flying and an outstanding sportsman, tipped to play rugby for England. Then disaster struck. Carrying out a banned ‘slow roll’ at low altitude, Bader crashed so badly that he had to have both legs amputated.

Published in series with The Dam Busters and The Great Escape.

Production Details

Three-quarter bound in cloth blocked with a design by Richard Sweeney

Set in Joanna

376 pages

Frontispiece and 16 pages of black & white plates, plus a map

Printed endpapers featuring technical drawings of a Hurricane and of Bader’s personalised Supermarine Spitfire Va

Plain slipcase

9½˝ x 6¼˝

Bader’s fight for survival

Drawing on his own experiences as a fighter pilot and prisoner-of-war, Paul Brickhill takes us through the exhilarating highs and devastating lows of the crash and Bader’s fight for survival; his gruelling efforts to master walking, and then flying, with two artificial limbs; the thrills of dog-fights during the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz; the drama of Bader’s final combat mission when his Spitfire’s tail and fuselage were completely destroyed, forcing him to bail out over occupied France; and his relentless ’goon-baiting’ and escape attempts as a prisoner-of-war. More than just Boy’s Own adventure, Reach for the Sky is a gripping and profoundly moving account of Bader’s war against the Germans, and his battle with himself.

Brickhill’s original text is supplemented by an Afterword written by Bader, that gives a very personal insight into physical disability and how he overcame it.

Own the Brickhill Trilogy

‘[Brickhill’s] three best-known books … constitute an anthology of the cardinal points of wartime heroism.’
  1. The Times

Reach for the Sky follows our bestselling new editions of The Dam Busters and The Great Escape to complete Paul Brickhill’s genre-defining trilogy of World War II heroics. Designed specifically to complement them, it features silhouetted Spitfires and Bader’s ’DB’ logo on its striking blue binding, endpapers printed with technical drawings of the planes he flew, and is richly illustrated with photographs from the Douglas Bader Foundation, the Imperial War Museum and the Royal Air Force Museum.

About Paul Brickhill

Paul Brickhill (1916–91) was born in Melbourne, Australia, and educated in Sydney, after which he became a journalist for the Sydney Sun. In January 1941 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force and attended training in Australia and Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. He became a fighter pilot for the RAF but, on 17 March 1943, was shot down while piloting a Spitfire over Tunisia. Brickhill became a prisoner of war and was sent to Stalag Luft III, where he assisted in a mass breakout in March 1944, which in turn became the basis of his 1950 bestseller The Great Escape (The Folio Society, 2016). After the war he continued to work in journalism and author books including The Dam Busters (1951; The Folio Society, 2015) and Reach for the Sky (1954; The Folio Society, 2017). He died in Sydney in 1991.


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