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Come Up and Get Me: An Autobiography of Colonel Joe Kittinger Paperback – April 16, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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  • Come Up and Get Me: An Autobiography of Colonel Joe Kittinger
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Kittinger, joined by author Craig Ryan, documents the heights of his extraordinary aeronautical career.

About the Author

Craig Ryan is the author of Magnificent Failure: Free Fall from the Edge of Space and The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (April 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826348041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826348043
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Come Up and Get Me: An Autobiography of Colonel Joseph Kittinger

In Come Up and Get Me, Joe Kittinger calls Col. John Paul Stapp the bravest man he ever met. The bravest man I have ever met is Joe Kittinger. "Col. Joe," Air Force test pilot, Air Force fighter pilot, Vietnam POW, balloonist extraordinaire, world's-record-holding parachutist, barnstormer, even alligator hunter! To say they don't make lives like this anymore is grossly understating the case. Joe's life and his devotion to flying began in what's become known as "the golden age" of aviation, a time when airplanes came with at least two wings, big piston engines, and big wooden propellers up front. It was a time when young boys dreamed of adventure and acted on those dreams. Joe left Florida for Air Force flight training with a couple years of college and a few private flights under his belt. Eventually he landed in test pilot work assisting Col. Stapp in developing high-altitude survival equipment and procedures, the stuff the U.S. would need to win the space race. That assignment led to Project Excelsior, Joe's record-breaking balloon ascent, parachute jump, and free fall, all records that still stand--though they might fall later this year with Joe's help. The summer of 1960 would have provided more than enough excitement for most men, but Joe hadn't yet experienced aerial combat and a strong sense of duty led him to Vietnam and command of the Triple-Nickel Tactical Fighter Squadron.
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In a word this book is "Epic" and if anything understated.

Lightly and tightly written with great humor moving succinctly through many momentous events, most worthy of their own book, it provides a portrait of the values and strengths that made our nation great. Qualities all but forgotten in our Me-Now self centered society.

Specifically;

The introductory account of Kittinger's early life on the river with his dad demonstrate the importance of male role models in the family. A major tragedy in our society today is that few boys have the opportunity to experience the agony and ecstasy of surviving on the water at night, especially in alligator infested swamp. Such experiences imprint us indelibly for life as demonstrated here.

On the surface Kittinger's story appears to be an account of super human courage.
Courage comes in several forms. "Blind Courage" generally underpinned by ego and pride and "Calculated Courage " underpinned by "Will" and "Skill". Kittinger's is clearly the latter. The will to study, dig and probe every eventuality and the skill to determine and execute the best possible course of action.

The "Determination" Kittinger displayed during his internment as a prisoner of war speaks volumes about his character.

The many aviation episodes also testify to the vital role "Passion" plays in achieving great things. Kittinger's extraordinary passion to fly for noble purposes(a very important distinction) propelled him well beyond the average self centered adventurer.

Kittinger's selfless "Generosity" in faithfully recognizing the contributions others, great and small, made to all of his achievements.
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This is an extremelly personal look back by a man on his career and his accomplishments. COL Kittinger seems to be very honest and frank about his accomplishments as well as those arround him. He does not seem to be one to take cheap shots at rivals and he gives credit where credit is due! This book is not a technical and historical masterpiece on all of the projects he was involved in (like Manhigh, Stargazer, or Excelsior) but it is more like a fond memory with many insights.

One thing I liked about this book is Kittinger does not "name drop" and try to drag down others (like other pilots have done in thier books). I love how Kittinger praises Colonel Stapp for all of his accomplishments. He also gives credit to his teams which to me shows the true character of the man. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Aviation, Space and ballooning.

This is an excellent companion to go with "The Pre-Astronauts" as well as "Touching Space" as it offers a personal first person rememberance but Colonel Kittinger also speaks of his other experiences making this a very worthwhile read.

-Wilfred A. Roberge
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I am fortunate to be a friend of Sherry and Joe Kittinger, so this review is a bit tainted. This book is not just a memoir, but a portal to Joe and the way he lives his life and touches the world and people around him. You see in this book his faith, his heart and his humanity. He is a confident individual who humbly shares what he has and who he is. A grown boy who continues to delight in new challenges and cool stuff. This book is not thick with self adulation; instead, it is meant to celebrate what life is about and can be about if you live it like Joe... with gusto! It paints an accurate portrait of a guy and his wife who look forward to the adventure that tomorrow brings. Read this book and find out why Joe is the luckiest guy in the sky!
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