“An excellent, well-researched, literate overview of 20th century warfare and the development of the fighter plane. Lords of the Sky will captivate history and aviation buffs alike.” (STEPHEN COONTS, New York Times
bestselling author of Flight of the Intruder
“Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this must-read chronological history of fighter pilots reads like a great literary novel. Dan Hampton has crafted an important work that is sure to become a classic within the historic lore of military aviation.” (CHRISTINA OLDS, co-author of Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds
Praise for Viper Pilot: “Hampton’s one of the most decorated pilots in Air Force history.... We may never see his like again.” (New York Post)
“Dramatic, fast-paced, and definitive -- a pleasure for everyone who loves reading about aviation, and the life-and-death drama of air combat.” (MICHAEL KORDA, author of With Wings Like Eagles
“An epic history of the fighter pilot world by a gifted author and historian with the trained eye of a combat pilot. This will be an enduring work of aviation literature. Experience the thrill, hear the wind, encounter the danger: Read this book!” (Major General DON SHEPPERD (USAF Ret.), co-author of Bury Us Upside Down
; former Director of the Air National Guard.)
“Superbly written. Paints a vivid picture of the skills, scares, scars, and science of air combat brilliantly, weaving them into a fascinating historical fabric that embraces technology, history, and politics. Buffs and the general public will agree that this is a first in the field!” (Colonel WALTER BOYNE (USAF, Ret.), Former Director of the National Air & Space Museum and author of Beyond the Wild Blue: A History of the United States Air Force
From the Back Cover
By the USAF F-16 legend behind the bestselling memoir Viper Pilot, this is the first comprehensive history of fighter pilots and air combat—a unique, riveting look at the aces of the sky, their machines, their most daring missions, and the epic conflicts they shaped, from the trailblazing aviators of World War I to today's supersonic jets
Lords of the Sky is a thrilling history of the fighter pilot, masterfully written by one of the most decorated aviators in American history. A twenty-year USAF veteran who flew more than 150 combat missions and received four Distinguished Flying Crosses, Lt. Colonel Dan Hampton draws on his singular firsthand knowledge, as well as groundbreaking research in aviation archives and rare personal interviews with little-known heroes, including veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. In a seamless, sweeping narrative, Lords of the Sky tells the extraordinary stories behind the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legend.
In the Great War, aces such as Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"), Eddie Rickenbacker, and Roland Garros faced horrific survival rates and became romantic heroes. The Second World War saw the RAF locked in a struggle for the fate of civilization during the Battle of Britain; on the Eastern Front, the German Luftwaffe and Soviet Air Force grappled in some of the fiercest and bloodiest air battles in history. In the Pacific, Japanese pilots terrorized Asia, culminating in their attack on Pearl Harbor. American flyboys quickly became instrumental to the Allies' ultimate victory, ravaging the enemy's navy, providing life-saving air support for ground troops, escorting bombers, and dogfighting with Japanese Zeros and Nazi Messerschmitts. During the Cold War, conflicts in Korea and Vietnam featured the dawn of the jet age, in which American pilots battled Soviet-made MiGs and increasingly sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry. Hampton then draws on his own experience as an F-16 pilot who fought in the 1991 and 2003 wars against Iraq to bring to life the dangers and demands of today's modern fighter pilot.
Here are the stories behind history's most iconic aircraft and the aviators who piloted them: from the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane to the Mitsubishi Zero, Supermarine Spitfire, Nazi Bf 109, P-51 Mustang, Grumman Hellcat, F-4 Phantom, F-105 Thunderchief, F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 SuperHornet, and beyond. Here, too, are the Lafayette Escadrille, Flying Tigers, RAF Eagles, Wild Weasels, and other legendary units. Throughout this definitive history, Hampton clarifies the astonishing debt we owe to these daring Lords of the Sky who have ruled the air for more than a century.