Fighter Pilot by Christina Olds and Ed Rasimus | Books in Review

This memoir/biography, first published last year in hardcover, of the legendary U.S. air ace is now out in paperback (St. Martin’s/Griffin, 400 pp., 15.99). Here’s our review from the May/June 2010 issue:

It’s not every day that you get to read a just-off-the-presses memoir by someone who died three years earlier, but that is the case with Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds   (St. Martin’s, 384 pp., $26.99) by Robin Olds, Christina Olds, and Ed Raimus. USAF Brigadier Gen. Robin Olds’s resume is the stuff of legend: football star at West Point; World War II ace fighter pilot with 12 confirmed aerial victories; co-founder of the first USAF jet aerobatic team; commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon AFB in Thailand in 1966-67, where he flew more than 100 F-4 fighter missions over North Vietnam and had four additional air kills; commandant of the USAF Academy.

Olds’ daughter Christina and retired USAF fighter pilot and author Rasimus tell Robin Olds’ life story very effectively in his first-person voice in this memoir, which is based on his all-but-finished, unpublished autobiography. The book reads as though this larger-than-life aerial warrior is relating his own event-filled life story. The sections on the air war over North Vietnam are particularly well rendered. For example:

“Nothing I had experienced in World War II matched, ” what happened in Vietnam. “Missiles streaked past, flak blackened the sky, tracers laced patterns across my canopy, and then, capping he day, MiGs would suddenly appear—small, sleek sharks, cutting and slashing, braving their own flak, firing missiles, guns, harassing, pecking.”

—Marc Leepson

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