By Philip Jarrett
Like all of the pilots selected for the RAF’s High Speed Flight (HSF), in the inter-war years, Samuel Kinkead, familiarly known as ‘Kink’, was an exceptional aviator. After joining the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in 1915, he served in the Dardanelles and then on the Western Front, where he converted from the Sopwith Triplane to the demanding but potent Camel, and emerged from the war as an RAF fighter pilot with four awards for gallantry. He then went to Russia, winning the DSO for courageous ground-attack operations in that country’s civil war.
This biography, long overdue, records in close detail Kink’s principal activities during those conflicts, in the inter-war RAF on counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, on the 1926 Cairo-to-Cape Town Flight, and then during his time with the HSF, starting in 1927 and ending with his tragic death on the Solent on 12 March 1928, in Supermarine S.5 N221, at the outset of an attempt on the world air speed record. The cause of the accident was never conclusively determined.
Unfortunately, Kink did not keep records, but the author has researched his subject at length, and also provides a great deal of background information regarding the relevant episodes in RNAS/RFC/aviation history. The result is a very complete account of an outstanding airman’s flying life, and three eight-page sections of well reproduced monochrome photographs, useful appendices and a comprehensive index complete an absorbing book. [Rated: ‘Excellent’]