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Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds Hardcover – April 13, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312560230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312560232
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This volume could not be more appropriately titled, because triple-ace Olds wanted to be a fighter pilot from when he was an air-corps brat just five years old. His daughter and an air-force colleague have assembled a mass of material he left behind at his death in 2007 into a gripping narrative that covers childhood, West Point, WWII, peacetime, and Vietnam as well as his long retirement. Not all the turbulence he encountered was in the air. His marriage to actress Ella Raines had its ups and downs, and he was by his own admission a reluctant staff officer and often a difficult, even wild, subordinate. At the same time, he gives us the portrait of a dedicated air warrior, the men who served with him, and U.S. fighters, both the sworn-by and the sworn-at, throughout a span of 30 years. Compelling reading, likely to become a classic.” --Roland Green, Booklist

"Robin Olds is probably the greatest aerial warrior America ever produced.  He is the real deal, a fighter pilot's fighter pilot, a consummate military professional, a natural, charismatic leader, and a true, heroic servant of our republic.  His autobiography tells it like it was... and provides written proof why the people who served with him made him a legend.  That men like Olds chose to wear our nation's uniform does high honor to the profession.  I confidently predict that this book will be an instant classic." --Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Disciple

"Robin Olds was bold, audacious and courageous; truly one of America premier fighter pilots. His captivating story, told in riveting fashion, provides great insights into his life and the attributes that make a great fighter pilot. Warning! If you start to read, you will have trouble putting it down!" --Henry H. Shelton, General, US Army (R), former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

"Triple-ace Robin Olds' legendary leadership and heroic service to the cause of freedom have been an inspiration to our nation and our Air Force. He is one of our 'great captains' and a pioneer of air power." --General T. Michael Moseley (Ret.)

"Massively welcomed by his legion of fans." --Walter J. Boyne, author and former director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“Brigadier General Robin Olds was the Commandant of Cadets at the Air Force Academy when I arrived there in 1968.  As such, he was my commander.  After serving over 34 years in the Air Force, I have encountered no one … repeat no one … who was a better leader, wartime commander, or judge of men.  He was larger than life; a legend.  This book superbly tells a smattering of his accomplishments … and it does so in his own words.  It is a must read for anyone who cares about Airpower or who wants to understand the lessons of the past.” --Michael M. Dunn, Lt General (Ret), USAF, President/CEO Air Force Association

“I just finished reading the draft.   What a remarkable book - I was absolutely riveted! The fascinating details, the way it captured the true maverick spirit of General Olds...his blunt honesty and absolute integrity, his triumphs and tragedies... made for one terrific read! What an amazing man - and one of America's greatest warriors and leaders.  I was incredibly honored to have known him and to have featured him in my TV series. This is a must read for anyone who wants to get into the mind of a true fighter pilot and a brilliant leader. A truly remarkable book...I highly recommend it!” --Cynthia Harrison, Creator/Executive Producer, Dogfights for The History Channel

“This book is a must-read for all fighter pilots, history buffs, and patriots.  The stories will fascinate the aviation veteran but will be just as interesting to the ‘everyman’. General Olds was a legend, a leader, a hero, a role model, and a genuine Sierra Hotel character.” --T. Allan McArtor, Chairman, Airbus Americas, former FAA Administrator, and fighter pilot

About the Author

Robin Olds (1922-2007) was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. A triple ace, he achieved a combined total of 16 victories in the Second World War and the Vietnam War. Born into an army family in Honolulu and raised in Virginia, he was educated at West Point, where he was an All American football player. He fought in Europe during World War II, and was regarded as the best wing commander in the Vietnam War. He was promoted to brigadier general after Vietnam, and also served as Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
 
Christina Olds is the daughter of Robin Olds. She holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Vassar.
 
Ed Rasimus is a retired USAF fighter pilot whose books on the Vietnam air war include When Thunder Rolled and Palace Cobra.

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Customer Reviews

Robin Olds is the epitome of a great fighter pilot.
Kevin Black
A great tribute to a Legendary Man, Gentleman and Fighter Pilot... May he rest in Peace... God Bless you Robin Olds and thank you for your sacrifice for our country.
Bit
I had a hard time putting the book down once I started reading it.
Steven J. Savonen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

177 of 182 people found the following review helpful By AdamSmythe on April 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a substantial book (about 400 pages) about the life of one of the most famous fighter pilots of all time, Robin Olds. It is largely a compilation of Olds' diaries, documents, letters, articles, etc, put together by his daughter, Christina Olds, after Robin's death in 2007. Indeed, before he died, Robin and Christina were able to share a fair amount of time together in preparation for the completion of his unfinished memoirs. Appropriately, the book is written in the first person. It's a well written book, not because it contains highly polished writing (it doesn't), but rather because it reads as you'd expect it to read coming from a maverick fighter-pilot. (I was fortunate to hear Robin Olds speak a number of times, and this book is true to his rather abrupt style of speaking.)

The book begins right where you'd expect a fighter pilot to begin--in the air, in combat ("We had been taking the war to Hitler...")--but then settles back to develop Olds' life story, starting from the beginning. His mother died when he was four, and he grew up the son of an Army officer. (There was no Air Force at that time.) The reader learns about his interest in football (6' 2", captain of his high school team, later played for West Point--including once in front of 100,000 fans at an Army - Navy game, back when that game was a big event to all sports fans).

The heart of this book, like the main theme in his life, is flying, especially in conflict. Olds flew P-38s and later transitioned to the marvelous P-51 (with the Merlin engine) during World War II. On his second P-51 training flight he almost crashed the aircraft trying to land (they didn't call it the Mustang for nothing).
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Charney on April 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a word-AWESOME!!! This is the incredible story of one of, if not "the" greatest combat flying wing commanders that has ever graced our presence. Robin Olds was a larger-than-life character who flew hard, fought hard and played hard. Imagine a story where a young boy grows up with many of American aviation's greats (Billy Mitchell, Tooey Spaatz, Hap Arnold, and Jimmy Doolittle) hanging around his father's house. With all that influence and exposure, it's no wonder Robin Olds developed into a great fighter pilot and a great combat leader. Then imagine that young boy being accepted into West Point. Robin played football at West Point (offense and defense), becoming an All-American. He then went off to pilot training, and made it into World War II, becoming an ace in both the P-38 Lightning and the P-51 Mustang (13 aerial victories, and 107 combat missions). But the story does not stop there. Robin Olds went on to marry a beautiful movie star, and take command of one of the RAF's first jet squadrons. Somewhere in between here and Vietnam, he found time to father two beautiful daughters; the loves of his life. Robin Old's combat leadership in the 8th Tac Fighter Wing in Vietnam is legendary. He went on to shoot down four MiGs, bringing his total count to 17 aerial victories. After fighting his way through 152 missions, Robin Olds would become Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Sound too good to be true? Well not for Robin Olds. 'Fighter Pilot' is action packed from the beginning. Readers will experience the thrill of flying into battle in some of the greatest American fighter planes. And they will learn the finer points of great combat leadership. What a great movie this book would make.

The efforts of Robin's daughter Christina also cannot be overstated.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Christopher C. Cline on April 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I arrived at the 8th TAC Fighter Wing at Ubon, Thailand a year after Robin had left the base. People on base would tell me you should have been here when Robin was the Wing Commander. I enjoyed the fact that the writers didn't try to make the book a PC product, they illustrated the real Robin Olds, crusty words and all. If you love flying and want a good account of what we do in the US Air Force then please buy this book, you will have a hard time putting it down. Chris Cline, MSgt, Ret. USAF, Overland Park, KS
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Keith on May 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like the Paula Cole song asks: "Where have all the cowboys gone?" "...where is (our) John Wayne?" "...where is (our) Lone Ranger?" Gen. Robin Olds was not only a hero because of his valor in a cockpit, but his willingness to buck the conventional wisdom of USAF and political leadership...even to the detriment of his own career. The words LEGEND and HERO are often misused in describing actors, sports participants, and musicians, but those words are apropos when describing Gen. Olds.

What a life! Gen Olds' life could fill 10 other fighter pilots' .....from growing up the son of a pioneer in US military aviation and being surrounded by the likes of Spaatz, Rickenbacker, Arnold, Turner, Mitchell ect. What role models to mold a young fighter pilot.....it couldn't have been better than that! Over his life, he excelled by his own makings, not by riding coat tails. Whether it was being an All American at West Point or becoming a leader and ace at an age most would consider still wet behind the ears.

Tales of both his aerial battles and the battles with those on the ground are riveting. It lets us see the steel willed determination of a man who truly believed in "lead by example" and "never ask those you lead to do anything you weren't willing to do." It's obvious the men he led, loved him and were willing to go to the Gates of Hell for him.....that is something that can't be demanded or ordered......it is earned.

Throughout this book we got glimpses of his home life and his marriage to the beautiful movie star, Ella Raines. Though he (or Christina) didn't go into depth about it, we got enough to know things weren't always blue skies and sunny days on the Olds' home front which made an extraordinary life seem realistic...
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