A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II
Four days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21 year old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly, a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber in the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies that day—the American—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B 17—and the German—2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in World War II.A Higher Call follows both Charlie and Franz’s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddies’ planes, flak bursts so close they would light his cockpit, and packs of enemy fighters that would circle his plane like sharks. Franz would face sandstorms in the desert, a crash alone at sea, and the spectacle of 1,000 bombers each with eleven guns, waiting for his attack. Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across the frozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American 8th Air Force would later classify as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention or else face a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.
The untold story of five women who fought to compete against men in the high stakes national air races of the 1920s and 1930s — and won Between the world wars, no sport was popular, or dangerous, than airplane racing. Thousands of fans flocked to multi‑day events, and cities vied with one another to host them. The pilots themselves were hailed as dashing heroes who cheerfully stared death in the face. Well, the men were hailed. Female pilots were often ridiculed than praised for what the press portrayed as silly efforts to horn in on a manly, and deadly, pursuit. Fly Girls recounts how a cadre of women banded together to break the original glass ceiling: the entrenched prejudice that conspired to keep them out of the sky. O’Brien weaves together the stories of five remarkable women: Florence Klingensmith, a high‑school dropout who worked for a dry cleaner in Fargo, North Dakota; Ruth Elder, an Alabama divorcee; Amelia Earhart, the most famous, but not necessarily the most skilled; Ruth Nichols, who chafed at the constraints of her blue‑blood family’s expectations; and Louise Thaden, the mother of two young kids who got her start selling coal in Wichita. Together, they fought for the chance to race against the men — and in 1936 one of them would triumph in the toughest race of all. Like Hidden Figures and Girls of Atomic City, Fly Girls celebrates a little known slice of history in which tenacious, trail blazing women braved all obstacles to achieve greatness.
The autobiography of one of the greatest pilots in history.In 1939 Eric Brown was on a University of Edinburgh exchange course in Germany, and the first he knew of the war was when the Gestapo came to arrest him. They released him, not realising he was a pilot in the RAF volunteer reserve: and the rest is history. Eric Brown joined the Fleet Air Arm and went on to be the greatest test pilot in history, flying different aircraft types than anyone else. During his lifetime he made a record breaking 2,407 aircraft carrier landings and survived eleven plane crashes. One of Britain's few German speaking airmen, he went to Germany in 1945 to test the Nazi jets, interviewing (among others) Hermann Goering and Hanna Reitsch. He flew the suicidally dangerous Me 163 rocket plane, and tested the first British jets. WINGS ON MY SLEEVE is 'Winkle' Brown's incredible story.
By the summer of 1940 World War II had been under way for nearly a year. Hitler was triumphant and planning an invasion of England. But the United States was still a neutral country and, as Winston Churchill later observed, the British people held the fort alone. A few Americans, however, did not remain neutral. They joined Britain's Royal Air Force to fight Hitler's air aces and help save Britain in its darkest hour. The Few is the never before told story of these thrill seeking Americans who defied their country's neutrality laws to fly side by side with England's finest pilots. They flew the lethal and elegant Spitfire, and became knights of the air. With minimal training and plenty of guts they dueled the skilled pilots of Germany's Luftwaffe in the blue skies over England. They shot down several of Germany's fearsome aces, and were feted as national heroes in Britain. By October 1940, they had helped England win the greatest air battle in the history of aviation. At war's end, just one of the Few would be alive. The others died flying, wearing the RAF's dark blue uniform each with a shoulder patch depicting an American eagle. As Winston Churchill said, Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
The widely anticipated memoir of legendary ace American fighter pilot, Robin Olds
Robin Olds was a larger than life hero with a towering personality. A graduate of West Point and an inductee in the National College Football Hall of Fame for his All American performance for Army, Olds was one of the toughest college football players at the time. In WWII, Olds quickly became a top fighter pilot and squadron commander by the age of 22—and an ace with 12 aerial victories.
But it was in Vietnam where the man became a legend. He arrived in 1966 to find a dejected group of pilots and motivated them by placing himself on the flight schedule under officers junior to himself, then challenging them to train him properly because he would soon be leading them. Proving he wasn’t a WWII retread, he led the wing with aggressiveness, scoring another four confirmed kills, becoming a rare triple ace.
Olds (who retired a brigadier general and died in 2007) was a unique individual whose personal story is one of the most eagerly anticipated military books of the year.
General Chuck Yeager, the greatest test pilot of them all the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound .the World War II flying ace who shot down a Messerschmitt jet with a prop driven P 51 Mustang .the hero who defined a certain quality that all hotshot fly boys of the postwar era aimed to achieve: the right stuff.Now Chuck Yeager tells his whole incredible life story with the same wide open, full throttle approach that has marked his astonishing career. What it was really like enaging in do or die dogfights over Nazi Europe. How after being shot over occupied France, Yeager somehow managed to escape. The amazing behind the scenes story of smashing the sound barrier despite cracked ribs from a riding accident days before.The entire story is here, in Yeager's own words, and in wondeful insights from his wife and those friends and colleagues who have known him best. It is the personal and public story of a man who settled for nothing less than excellence, a one of a kind portrait of a true American hero.
Tom Wolfe began The Right Stuff at a time when it was unfashionable to contemplate American heroism. Nixon had left the White House in disgrace, the nation was reeling from the catastrophe of Vietnam, and in 1979 the year the book appeared Americans were being held hostage by Iranian militants. Yet it was exactly the anachronistic courage of his subjects that captivated Wolfe. In his foreword, he notes that as late as 1970, almost one in four career Navy pilots died in accidents. The Right Stuff, he explains, became a story of why men were willing willing? delighted! to take on such odds in this, an era literary people had long since characterized as the age of the anti hero.Wolfe's roots in New Journalism were intertwined with the nonfiction novel that Truman Capote had pioneered with In Cold Blood. As Capote did, Wolfe tells his story from a limited omniscient perspective, dropping into the lives of his characters as each in turn becomes a major player in the space program. After an opening chapter on the terror of being a test pilot's wife, the story cuts back to the late 1940s, when Americans were first attempting to break the sound barrier. Test pilots, we discover, are people who live fast lives with dangerous machines, not all of them airborne. Chuck Yeager was certainly among the fastest, and his determination to push through Mach 1 a feat that some had predicted would cause the destruction of any aircraft makes him the book's guiding spirit. Yet soon the focus shifts to the seven initial astronauts. Wolfe traces Alan Shepard's suborbital flight and Gus Grissom's embarrassing panic on the high seas (making the controversial claim that Grissom flooded his Liberty capsule by blowing the escape hatch too soon). The author also produces an admiring portrait of John Glenn's apple pie heroism and selfless dedication. By the time Wolfe concludes with a return to Yeager and his late career exploits, the narrative's epic proportions and literary merits are secure. Certainly The Right Stuff is the best, the funniest, and the most vivid book ever written about America's manned space program. Patrick O'Kelley
From the early pioneers to the latest spaceflight technology, this groundbreaking book charts the inspirational story behind humankind's conquest of the skies. In the 100 years since the Wright brothers' first powered flight, aviation has witnessed many memorable events. From record breaking flights and aerial warfare, to advances in aircraft design and the race for space, Flight covers the most memorable moments in the history of aviation. Describing the feats of the brave men and women who piloted the early flying machines, to the pioneers of long distance flight and the test pilots who ushered in the jet age, Flight is a gripping narrative of humankind's quest to conquer the skies and explore space. Loaded with spectacular full color photographs, dramatic first hand accounts, and fact filled profiles on a huge range of aircraft, this is an enthralling account of a century of innovation and adventure.
From breaking wild horses in Colorado to fighting the Red Baron's squadrons in the skies over France, here in his own words is the true story of a forgotten American hero: the cowboy who became our first ace and the first pilot to fly the American colors over enemy lines.
Growing up on a ranch in Sterling, Colorado, Frederick Libby mastered the cowboy arts of roping, punching cattle, and taming horses. As a young man he exercised his skills in the mountains and on the ranges of Arizona and New Mexico as well as the Colorado prairie. When World War I broke out, he found himself in Calgary, Alberta, and joined the Canadian army. In France, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer, the gunner in a two person biplane. Libby shot down an enemy plane on his first day in battle over the Somme, which was also the first day he flew in a plane or fired a machine gun. He went on to become a pilot. He fought against the legendary German aces Oswald Boelcke and Manfred von Richthofen, and became the first American to down five enemy planes. He won the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action.
Libby's memoir of his cowboy days in the last years of the Old West evokes a real life Cormac McCarthy novel. His description of World War I combines a rattling good account of the air war over France with captivating and sometimes poignant depictions of wartime London, the sorrow for friends lost in combat, and the courage and camaraderie of the Royal Flying Corps. Told in charming, straightforward vernacular, Horses Don't Fly is an unforgettable piece of Americana.
Based on documents written by the great aces and interviews with survivors, this story of the air war in Europe re creates a world where men too young to have known much of life discovered new ways of killing dying. Here are the true stories of the famous flyers on both sides of the conflict: Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron who shot down 80 enemy planes; Max Immelmann, who extended the combat capabilities of the aircraft with his innovative aerial maneuvers; one eyed British ace Mick Mannock who brought down 73 German planes; America's own Eddie Rickenbacker, whose 26 kills came in little than a year of actual combat. Examining the technological aspects of combat aviation, the development use of weapons such as the zeppelin the machine gun, and the incredible teamwork of famous fighter squadrons, Longstreet captures both the romance the horror of combat above the Western Front.