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Eric B. Forsyth

Eric Forsyth, 1932 - 2023

Becoming an author of four books was actually the third career for Long Island author and LIAG member Eric Boyland Forsyth, 91, who passed away on August 22, 2023 after a short Illness.

Eric's first career was as a head engineer at Brookhaven National Labs, managing the Superconducting Power Transmission Project, serving as Chairman of the Magnet Development Committee for The ISABELLE Project, and finally as the Chairman of RHIC (The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider). Forsyth led the team that designed the superconducting magnets used in RHIC, and his magnet designs were also the basis for the magnets later used in the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN.

For this work Eric was presented with the Herman Halperin Award, the highest annual recognition by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers for power transmission research. Forsyth was also a Fellow of the IEEE, a registered professional Engineer in Canada, and a chartered Engineer in the E.U. He was an acknowledged world authority on the application of superconductivity.

Eric's second career—sailing—was what led to his becoming a book author. When he and his wife Edith moved to Brookhaven in 1960 he took up the local hobby, sailing on the Great South Bay, in a 16-foot baby Narrasketuk. Over the years, he gradually upgraded, at one point even spending a year with his wife and their three-year-old son living aboard a 35-foot sloop in the Caribbean, before it had become the tourist destination it is today.

A transatlantic crossing with a friend whetted Eric's appetite for more, and he then built his yacht Fiona from a bare hull. Following his retirement in 1995, he sailed Fiona nearly full-time for the next 20 years, over 300,000 nautical miles, with many different crew members. Among his numerous voyages, he made two circumnavigations of the globe, cruised the Antarctic and Arctic regions, and traversed the Northwest Passage. The Cruising Club of America awarded him their prestigious Blue Water Medal, given annually to one amateur sailor worldwide, in recognition of his Antarctic cruise.

These adventures led Eric, finally, to his career as an author. His first book was a memoir about his many ocean voyages, An Inexplicable Attraction: My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing, which was named one of the 100 Best Memoirs of 2018 by Kirkus Reviews. After that, Forsyth wrote and published three historical novels depicting the adventurous life of an RAF pilot in the turbulent 1930s and '40s as Great Britain gradually was drawn into war with Germany—Wings Over Iraq (2022), Wings Over the Channel (2022), and his latest, Wings Over Germany, published in May of 2023.

Though he lived in Brookhaven his entire professional life, was born in Bolton, England in 1931. At Manchester University he joined the Royal Air Force Reserves, where he completed pilot training and became an RAF fighter pilot, though unlike his RAF fighter pilot hero of the "Wings" series, Eric was too late for World War II. He moved to Canada in 1957, married his fiancée Edith, and completed a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Toronto. And then he was lured to Long Island by Brookhaven National Labs.

Besides his books, Eric was also a writer of many articles, and was a contributing editor to Ocean Sailing magazine. He also shared his sailing adventures with the worldwide sailing fraternity over the years by means of films, videos, talks, and numerous magazine articles, most of which appear on his official website, www.yachtfiona.com.

Eric is survived by his son Colin, his daughter Brenda and her husband Robb, and granddaughters Fawn and Gabriella. He was preceded in death by his wife Edith in 1991. Those who wish to honor Captain Eric Forsyth's memory are invited to donate to the Post-Morrow Foundation www.postmorrow.org, whose mission is to preserve and conserve the rural, cultural, and historical character of the hamlet of Brookhaven, New York.

Published Works:

Wings Over Germany

Author Eric Forsyth has just published his third novel, Wings Over Germany, which covers one of the most dramatic periods in recent history, the first part of WWII.

RAF Squadron Leader Allan Chadwick, the recurring character in the "Wings" series, is right at the center of the "gripping action", as Kirkus Reviews described it, which the author writes about in "brutally evocative prose." Publishers Weekly's BookLife Review described Wings Over Germany as "Exciting WWII aviation action, with a firm sense of tech and history" and noted that "Forsyth, as always, captures the thrill of flight and the terror of battle with a nuts-and-bolts accuracy that, crucially, doesn't slow down the suspenseful storytelling during scenes of action."

Published by Yacht Fiona Books, May 2023.

Wings Over the Channel

Eric Forsyth's new historical novel is set in the U.K. in the 1930s when another war is threatening. The Royal Air Force is working frantically to develop an effective radar defense system against potential German bombers.

The story follows the continuing adventures of a young RAF pilot, Allan Chadwick, whose efforts to test the system attract the interest of German spies who have penetrated an upper class appeasement clique. One of their members is an aristocratic widow who becomes Chadwick's paramour. He becomes involved in a duel of wits to fool the Luftwaffe by feeding false reports of the tests.

Kirkus Reviews notes the story has a "sly undercurrent of humor" which "keeps the whole tale moving along briskly," including "a running gag about Chadwick's behemoth old Bentley." Kirkus concludes Wings Over the Channel is "A rousing detailed RAF thriller that delivers an effective climax."

Published by Yacht Fiona Books, February 2022.

Wings Over Iraq

In this historical novel set in Iraq in the turbulent lead-up to WWII, the British patrol the oil fields using obsolete Vimy bombers, while the Germans recruit opportunistic local tribes to sabotage British efforts and help set up an archaeological dig as an espionage cover. As fascists ascend to power in Europe, newly-qualified British RAF pilot Allan Chadwick is given his first assignment to an airfield near Baghdad.A gauche young man from a small English town, he is soon initiated into the brutalities and inefficiencies of war, as well as the pleasures and surprises of romantic liaisons. Chadwick demonstrates an innate aircraft and engineering know-how, which serves him well, but is nearly his undoing when he heads back to Britain for his next assignment.

Published by Yacht Fiona Books, May 2020.

An Inexplicable Attraction: My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing

Sailing well into his eighties, Captain Eric Forsyth shows that age need not be a barrier to an adventurous retirement. His love of ocean sailing was ignited in 1964 when he crossed the Atlantic with his wife, Edith, crewing aboard a friend's 46-foot boat. For more than fifty years, mostly aboard his sturdy cutter, Fiona, Forsyth has cruised the oceans of the world, making voyages that included two circumnavigations of the globe, cruises through the Northwest Passage and to the Baltic, and several excursions to both the Artic and Antarctic. His stories will appeal to all sailors, whether active or armchair, and to travel buffs with a penchant for remote places and their histories.

On a more serious side, Forsyth has seen many countries that he visited over the decades change from languorous oligarchies to developing democracies with a thriving middle class. Like the U.S., they have a profligate appetite for fossil fuel, which is not a sustainable resource in the long run. He suggests ways of bringing attention to this global problem.

A Yacht Fiona Book, published by Green Ocean Race Productions, 2016.


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