The Mad Major

The Autobiography of Major Christopher Draper DSC


231 pages

Black & White photographs
Small 8vo


This is the autobiography of 208 Squadron’s second CO: Major Christopher Draper DSC, who is known as ‘The Mad Major’ for his daring flight under Tower Bridge in an Auster in 1931 and for his even more spectacular exploits in May 1953 when, at the age of 61, he flew under 15 bridges between Waterloo and Kew.

After a generous introduction by Sir Geoffrey Bromet, who describes Draper as a ‘Cavalier of the air’, the author provides a commentary of his life from the moment of his birth until 1960, when he completed his manuscript. It is somewhat self-absorbed, but provides a fascinating insight into early flying training and the outbreak of the First World War. Of particular interest will be, of course, Chapter III, which describes in engaging detail for some 20 pages his posting to Naval Eight as firstly a flight commander and then as its second CO.  Some of this is reproduced in ‘Naval Eight’, but there is much detail that is contained only in this book.

The remainder of the book describes Major Draper’s peripatetic career and, of course, his exploits under London bridges. There is, however, a further mention of 208 Squadron when, in 1955, he, Sir Geoffrey Bromet and 3 other ‘old boys’ flew out to Abu Sueir for the presentation of the first Squadron Standard. An excerpt from ‘The Mad Major’ which describes his flight in a Meteor with Mike Bradley is contained in the Meteor Chapter anecdotes in this Website. In sum, this is another fascinating book, which gives a deep insight into the mind of a most unconventional aviator.

Published by Air Review Ltd.

1st printing, Letchworth, 1962


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