St Martin’s Press, 2010
Robin Olds is a legend in the fighter pilot community, though he may not be recognized outside of it. Many people may remember, for example, the famous Operation BOLO during Vietnam, which used F-4s to impersonate F-105s and succeeded in destroying a third of the North Vietnamese MiG-21s in a single mission – but few know then-Col Robin Olds was responsible for it. Fighter Pilot is his story, and it is explicitly delivered as a memoir, rather than an autobiography. Thus, it is not a detailed birth-to-death retelling of his life, but a first-hand recounting of the things he wishes to convey. (The book was completed after his 2007 death by his daughter, Christina Olds, and Ed Rasimus, himself a retired fighter pilot.)
The book starts off somewhat slowly, almost as if (despite its status as a “memoir”), Olds (or his co-authors) felt obligated to include some stories from the early parts of his life. He mentions his early pilot training days and a few significant events briefly, but provides little detail or introspective. For example, he casually mentions, without further insight, that he attended the Air Corps Tactical School, which would ultimately form the basis for all air doctrine in the Army Air Forces and eventually the independent Air Force. He also covers his entire training, from his early wartime graduation from West Point through becoming a pilot, in a scant 20 pages. Some of the lack of detail may be for a very understandable cause: he simply didn’t remember much from those early days. Another may be more pragmatic: Olds is known for his time in Vietnam, not pilot training.
Unlike some other fighter pilot books, Continue reading