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

Joe Kittinger , Craig Ryan , Neil Armstrong
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 16, 2010
A few years after his release from a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp in 1973 Colonel Joseph Kittinger retired from the Air Force. Restless and unchallenged, he turned to ballooning, a life-long passion as well as a constant diversion for his imagination during his imprisonment. His primary goal was a solitary circumnavigation of the globe, and in its pursuit he set several ballooning distance records, including the first solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1984. But the aeronautical feats that first made him an American hero had occurred a quarter of a century earlier. By the time Kittinger was shot down in Vietnam in 1972, his Air Force career was already legendary. He had made a name for himself at Holloman Air Force base near Alamagordo, New Mexico, as a test pilot who helped demonstrate that egress survival for pilots at high altitudes was possible in emergency situations. Ironically, Kittinger and his pre-astronaut colleagues would help propel Americans into space using the world's oldest flying machine - the balloon. Kittinger's work on Project Excelsior - which involved daring high-altitude bailout tests - earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross long before he earned a collection of medals in Vietnam. Despite the many accolades, Kittinger's proudest moment remains his free fall from 102,800 feet during which he achieved a speed of 614 miles per hour. In this long-awaited autobiography, Kittinger joins author Craig Ryan to document an astonishing career.

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. In 1969 Neil Armstrong was the commander of Apollo 11, becoming the first man to land a craft on the moon and the first man to step on the lunar surface.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (June 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826348033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826348036
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,065,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come Up and Get Me July 23, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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. Joe's command came to an end over North Vietnam courtesy of a Mig and a missile that landed Joe in the Hanoi Hilton for eleven months of torture, near starvation, and many other indignities that Joe probably felt too horrific to recount.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Character checklist for the next generation July 12, 2010
By Airshow
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.


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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book!!! June 19, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Col. Joe is a model June 24, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book
Recommend this book for anyone interested in our American Hero, Joe Kittinger. Col. Kittinger was the REAL First Man in Space.
Published 1 month ago by Joseph
4.0 out of 5 stars A really fun read
I really enjoyed this book. I wish there was a bit more information on his family but otherwise a good book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by PedroPat
5.0 out of 5 stars The Space Flight before the space flight!
Enjoyable trip through the beginnings of space flight. Joe Kittinger made it an easy but interesting read. Quite a guy!!!
Published 5 months ago by Ruth Marks
5.0 out of 5 stars Come Up and Get Me
This is an incredible book. I was very thrilled with it. Col. Kittinger also overs to autograph the book. Great
Published 6 months ago by Vivia
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better written
Way too much use of "they"

Aircraft are mentioned ("corporate jet", "B-66") but not identified - this is a pilot's book for goodness sake! Read more
Published 11 months ago by Julie - Remember Bataan and Corregidor
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey through a life of adventure
This bio is an outstanding depiction of a life overflowing with aviation adventures among many others. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kris Pittman
5.0 out of 5 stars Jumping from 20 miles, a long, long time ago.
Interesting story by an important aerospace pioneer. It was a time when dedicated men were doing amazing things, and, in this case, on very small budgets. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Bernard A. Biales
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
Joe Kittinger is a true American hero. I think anyone interested in exploration of outer space would be fascinated in reading this book..
Published 15 months ago by Armando T. Ricci, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding on many levels
Joe is a most interesting individual. It seems so unublievable that he has done all these things but he has. Also a true American Hero that can be a role model for many. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Loren Seely
5.0 out of 5 stars Just WOW!
What a life and what a solid read. This book really tells the stories of his life well and makes you feel as if you are right there next to him reliving each experience. Read more
Published 16 months ago by S. Johnson
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