Just released is a paperback version of “Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds.”
The book, compiled and edited by his daughter, Christina, and an Air Force colleague, Ed Rasimus, distills the reams of material he left when he died in 2007.
Robin Olds was a 5-year-old Air Corps brat who knew he wanted to be a fighter pilot. He went to West Point, became a double ace fighter pilot in World War II, married a Hollywood film actress, and earned his status as a triple ace fighting in Vietnam as a colonel and Air Commander.
The descriptions of his dramatic dogfights in P-38s and P-51 Mustangs during World War II are filled with detail about aerial maneuvers, close calls, and enemy aircraft exploding in the sky, according to the publishers. In 1947, he married Hollywood actress Ella Raines and enjoyed a glamorous social life when stateside. His career came first, though, and he eagerly accepted assignments that sent them and their two daughters to parts of Europe and Africa.
The book chronicles his varied military assignments, scraps with his superior officers, and the valuable relationships he developed with major military figures spanning 30 years.
“You can’t survive as a fighter pilot if you dwell on your sorrow much past the first beer,” he says regarding times of deadly conflict. “It crossed my mind I should jump off the truck and head for the woods, but it was out of the question. Music was music, and the sooner faced the better.”
Praised for his leadership skills, he shares his management style: “Know the mission, what is expected of you and your people. Get to know the people, their attitudes and expectations. Learn what each does, how the parts fit into the whole. Make sure they know that you’ll shoulder the blame when things go wrong. Correct without revenge or anger. Recognize accomplishment. Your genuine interest and concern, plus follow-up on your promises, will earn you respect.”
Distinguished by the outlawed handlebar moustache he refused to remove, he had a remarkable career. As Commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing in Thailand early in the Vietnam War, he proposed mission Operation BOLO that became one of the most dangerous and noteworthy air battles in the war. During the 11 months of his command, the wing flew 13,249 combat sorties, incurred only 29 combat and 7 operational losses of F-4s, and had casualties of 6 killed and 32 missing. Thirty-four aircrew were rescued, a 47% recovery rate. Olds was given the Air Force Cross for his heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces. He retired as a brigadier general.
The paperback book is available for $15.99. The book is available at online and brick and mortar bookstores.