Bear: Flight to Liberty
Author: Miguel Vargas-Caba
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (2007)
Binding: Hardcover, 304 pages
In September 1976, Viktor Belenko defected to Japan in his MiG-25 Foxbat jet fighter, one of the most well-known defections from the Soviet block. But in that same year, there was another defection so embarrassing to the Soviets that its particulars remained a secret for more than twenty-five years. All media accounts of Soviet TU-95 flights participating in the Okean 76 naval maneuvers mention only two planes. Whenever they were confronted in private, however, the Soviets acknowledged that in reality, three planes took off from Russia, with the third aircraft crashing at sea, killing everyone aboard. Since it sank in deep waters, no one attempted to salvage the wreck. But what the Soviet authorities never acknowledged -publicly or privately- was that the third TU-95 made a bold and risky flight from the USSR to Canada. Because its crew defected, the Soviets never admitted that such an event happened. Bear: Flight to Liberty tells the third crew's thrilling story.
Miguel Vargas-Caba's Bear: Flight to Liberty is a gripping book about one Soviet aircrew's gamble to achieve freedom. In the 1970's, a Soviet aircraft commander has been put out to pasture in one of the USSR's most desolate northern bases. Once a great hero of the Soviet Union, his political views have had him banished, and destined to spend his life patrolling vast expanses of the North Atlantic in his TU-95, code named "Bear." Driven by a desire to live as a free man, he convinces his crew to gamble their lives in an attempt to be free. Will they make it?
This book is an attempt to tell the story behind the actual 1976 defection of a Bear aircraft, which embarrassed the Soviet Union so much that the details were kept secret for over 25 years. Though fiction, it is a believable, enjoyable story that captures well both the camaraderie of combat aircrew and the technical aspects of the aircraft of the time. I especially enjoyed the technical and language references included in the back of the book, which proved educational and also added an element of authenticity to the work.
Fans of techno-thrillers as well as Cold War and aviation enthusiasts will enjoy this book.
Reviewed by: Rob Ballister (2009)