GREAT FLYING STORIES, an anthology of stories forwarded by FREDERICK FORSYTH (Corgi, $104). THE marvel of man taking to the air has gone from an experience of wonder for an adventurous few to an often unwanted chore for the globe-trotting businessman. In this wonderful selection of short stories, Frederick Forsyth takes us back to when every sortie into the clouds was fraught with danger and the unexpected. He also makes a contribution of his own entitled The Shepherd, a story of a young fighter pilot's struggle for survival when his radio and electrical equipment fail. Originally Lord Cheshire - formerly Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC - was to have prepared this volume but due to pressure of work he called on Forsyth. The self-effacing Forsyth, who writes in the preface that he is a poor substitute for the World War II bomber ace and hero, has nonetheless done an outstanding job selecting a companion of stories that re-live a bygone era. Understandably many of the stories focus on the fledgling days of flight around World War I. The book begins with a rollicking offering from H. G. Wells entitled My First Aeroplane, which looks at the comical side of a young gentleman taking to the air. Edgar Allan Poe's contribution - The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfaall - is a weird flight of fantasy embodying the best elements of Baron Munchhausen and Rip Van Winkle. The list of authors is impressive and even Richard Bach, who soared to fame on the wings of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, makes a meaningful contribution, entitled The Cat. Set in the mid-1950s it will strike a resonant chord with anybody who has flown single-seater aircraft - superstition. A Persian cat sits by the runway watching the pilots take off and land. Does the cat really, by its presence or absence, affect whether the pilots live or die? Forsyth has skilfully harvested a rich bounty of compelling stories that are a must for the adventurous at heart, who have their heads in the clouds.