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Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  826 ratings  ·  92 reviews

Robin Oldswas many things to many people. To his West Point football coach he was an All American destined for the National College Football Hall of Fame. To his P-38 and P-51 wartime squadrons in WWII he was the aggressive fighter pilot who made double ace and became their commander in nine short months. For the pioneers of the jet age, he was the wingman on the first j

Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published April 1st 2010)
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Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds is a fantastic read, a 5 Star permanent shelf addition that is very easy to follow and doesn’t get bogged down anywhere. Robin Olds was a true warrior, a very young fighter squadron commander in WWII (and a multiple ace) and a Wing Commander in Vietnam during the hottest part of the airwar, where he could have been an ace all over again-you need to read the book to find out why he didn’t get his fifth kill. This book is an excellent explanat ...more
Mark Mortensen
Robin Olds graduated from West Point Military Academy and among his many credentials he later served as commandant of the Air Force Academy. The top notch fighter pilot with strong leadership skills remained on cutting edge from WWII to Vietnam as a “triple ace”.

The man with convictions was not a “yes” man and true to his character he spoke out against the rules of engagement in Vietnam. Brig. General Olds’s assessments were spot on and his grit in later years elevated my status of the man to a
William Young
Wow. You want to read a story about a life lived large? You want to read this.

Robin Olds lived the life I would have liked to live when I was a kid, before I realized there would be no more aerial dogfights between rival fighter pilots. It's all missiles over-the-horizon, now. Oh, sure, it'd still be hella fun to fly a modern jet fighter, but the glory days of the business are in the history pages. Which is where we now find Robin Olds, having died a couple of years back.

His memoir has it all, a
Loved this book! This book covers the span of Robin Olds military career starting from his time at West Point through his WWII and Vietnam fighter pilot days to his time as commandant of the U.S. Air Force Academy and eventual retirement and everything in between. The retelling of specific aerial battles isn't always top-notch, but the true essence of this book shines in regards to giving an insiders' view into fighter pilot culture and mentality. His love for flying is readily apparent, and you ...more
I have never been left so humbled as reading this book did. I am afraid anyone can even dare say differently for this was a man who dedicated his life to the love of flying with a knife sharp focus.

Also, amongst the many lessons I learnt reading this book, one will remain etched in my mind forever - if you believe you deserve better, go after it. Mr. Olds in this memoir recounts so many events where he has grabbed success from the yawning mouth of despair and defeat because he knew he was the b
When I first opened the book I felt I was going to get a bare bones honest look into Robin Olds life based on interviews I had seen of him. Fighter Pilot doesn't disappoint on this level in fact it exceeded my expectations. Usually a memoir like this will try to hide warts that the author doesn't want to the reader to see. I'm sure there are a few things that Olds didn't want to expose but he exposed more than I expected him to expose which made this book candid and refreshing.

After reading the
Chris Broyhill
I have an entire collection of biographies and memoirs so I am no stranger to the genre. But it is rare, extremely rare, for me to be moved by one of these works. Inspired often, motivated sometimes, but rarely moved. Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Fighter Ace Robin Olds is a story that moved me. I finished the book in the wee hours last night and I felt like I couldn’t get to my computer fast enough today to write about it.

Before I go further though, I need to admit a certain bias – fo
Not quite a year ago, I bought this book and yesterday, I finished reading it.

I first learned of General Olds through the Edward Sims book, "FIGHTER ACE", in the late 1970s, which mentioned only his Vietnam War service. But this autobiography gave me a fuller picture not only of the dedicated pilot/warrior and fighter ace (inclusive also of his Second World War service), but also of Robin Olds the man, warts and all.

Here was a man who was dedicated to his family, his country, and the men that
I was in Thailand at Udorn shortly after Col. Olds' tour ended at Ubon. Even a couple of years after and at a different installation, his reputation and zeal as a "balls out" fighter pilot and leader were the standard against which everyone else was measured, both individuals and units.

For those reasons and my own life-long passion for all things that fly and the Air Force, I have been waiting to read his biography. While it is a good read and there are many details and stories that will be of i
Francis Gahren
My Take

An excellent book about a unique man – one that many wanna-be fighter pilots look to emulate, but can’t hold a candle to the real deal. In my time in UPT and in the Air Force as a pilot, I saw many guys trying to be like Robin Olds, but they were all phonies. I have a feeling he would have rooted them out on the spot for faking it – I’m sure he could have sensed it.

Enjoyed the book – Olds was a true American patriot who led men in combat. Enjoyed reading about his dad (a WWI pursuit pilot
My dad is reading this right now and loving it... of course, he keeps reading so much aloud to me that I might not actually need to read it myself...

Okay - so I finally got to read the book and really liked it. I love flying, history, and people who tell it like it is. Robin Olds has so many great stories from WWII through Vietnam and beyond that I just devoured the book. Being an AF pilot (though not a fighter pilot - just married to one), it was even more fun since I am familiar with many of t
Michael Gibby
This is a dang good book. Be prepared for some cuss words, it is about a military fighter pilot after all. But, beautifully written and entertaining throughout.
Kyle Hajek
At first, I thought this book was a little self-aggrandizing. "I shot down 12 enemy planes in WWII! I went on a date with a movie star! I was the first person to shoot down a plane with a P-38 gone all dead-stick!".

Then I verified it, and holy crap, it was all true. Not only did he shoot down those 12 planes in WWII, he got 4 MiGs in Vietnam, where he absolutely did lead from the front, and everyone who served with him really DID regard him as one of the finest leaders in the entire airforce. Hi
Steve Lamb
Only the second book I've ever given 5 stars to. This is an amazing memoir. My father served under General Olds in Ubon, Thailand, and regaled me with stories of Generals James and Olds, who were very affectionately known as, "Blackman and Robin". My father ran the LOX plant there, and to hear the General mention "The guys in the LOX plant" literally brought tears to my eyes. If the General's daughter, who co-wrote this with her father ever reads this review, please allow me to thank you from th ...more
Mark Jespersen
This was a great memoir of an Ace fighter pilot during WWII and his stint in the Vietnam "conflict". Wow, very different strategies of airial battle and of airplanes. It was a an enjoyable story and great personal insight.
I'd give this book 3.5 stars if I could. It was hard for me to separate the quality of the book (4 stars) from the man so I decided 3 stars was as accurate as I could get. You can read any of the numerous glowing reviews in Goodreads to get feeling for Robin Olds' many positive qualities. Olds was a helluva fighter pilot; magnificently adept, intensely motivated, and damn lucky at times. In many ways, he led a charmed life that more closely resembled a movie or novel than anything a mere human c ...more
Don Stanton
I would call this book a post mortem autobiography.
Written by a daughter that Idolized her father, most of the work taken from his documents, military records and personal papers.
I would have not given it this much praise had I not gone to the Wright Patterson Air Force museum. There inside the museum, more space was devoted to him than another single person (along with several of the planes he flew).
I found the book to be an honest portrayal of a flawed man do a few things astonishing well.
Great book about an old school fighter pilot. He must have been a pretty fun guy to hang out with, at one point he inherited a monkey from a young pilot that was shot down and used to bring it to the bar while flying missions over North Vietnam from Thailand. "I'd put Stokley down on the bar and that damned monkey would make one pass down the length, knocking over every glass in his path. Sometimes he'd stop to jam nuts into his mouth or stick his fist way down in a glass and fling beer in all d ...more
Dustin Gaughran
This is the first book I've written a review on. I felt compelled. I fancy myself the fighter pilot that never was. I'm a pilot, but not the one I want to be, and reading this book was like reading into my imagination when I'm daydreaming. This guy, professionally, was almost everything I wanted to be. He even reminded me of myself. That's not to say I'm in any way comparable to him, because I'm not. But I understand the need to fly. Pilots only want to be pilots, and being a fighter pilot is ob ...more
I love to fly. I love the sensation of high up in the sky, hands on the stick and be in control of the aircraft. Clouds up. Mixture of green and brown colours down. And in between? Empty sky!

For 1 year I joined a glider club. Just the kind of family, group, nerds I like to share my life with. Unfortunately I had to stop because it was too time consuming next to my kids and old house but ... one day I'll join them again.

I love reading about flying. Books. Magazines. Or whatever. When I was around
Ed Baldwin
Every fighter pilot after Robin Olds is a wannabe. The game is changed. America only has a thousand fighters in operation, and the new ones cost $200 Million. They will fly themselves if the pilot asks them to. Olds came along when we lost more planes and pilots from mechanical failure, weather, or pilot error than combat.

Fighters are very hard to fly, and only a lucky SOB could have survived what Robin Olds survived. He bridged the gap from the World War II piston engine fighters through the j
I found this book at a used book store right outside of campus and it was recommended by the owner of the shop because of my interest in aviation. This is one of a few books that I have read that I could not seem to put down. The book does an outstanding job of portraying the life, both good and bad, of arguably the best combat commander to serve in the United States Air Force. As a young man living in the shadow of his father who is a legend in his own time Robin is forced to prove himself as t ...more

Olds was the son of an Army Air Corps pilot, so he got to grow up around airplanes and meet people like the World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker. After graduating from West Point early in World War II, he went to flight training and was assigned to a fighter squadron in Britain. Flying first the 2 engine P-38 Lightning, and then the single engine P-51 Mustang, his squadron strafed ground targets and later defended bombers against German fighter planes. After the war and an unrewarding time as a v

This book is the recollection of one the most esteemed fighter pilots. His observations, thoughts, and stories makes for a very interesting read. He brings alive some of the most memorable battles of WWII and Vietnam from an aerial perspective. His reflections on leadership can be applied universally. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

The timeliness of reading this book is very appropriate. In the middle of drawing down from the nation's longest war, the downsizing of the milita
I normally don't like reading military biographies, unless I can see that the authour has a skeptical eye, and presents all sides of the subject's personality. In this case, although I believe the authours have a bias, I can see that they did present many sides of the man.

I am struck by Robin Old's personality, in that he is very aware of those around him, remembering names and stories of support staff, including those that are native to the country he is operating in. He has a generosity of spi
Robin Olds was a legendary pilot and leader, never taking no for an answer and always doing his job to filter the B.S. before it got to his airmen. I wish it was possible for his style to exist in the Air Force today. Reading this book is a step back into the good ol' days when we could still efficiently accomplish the mission and have fun doing it. His character shines through in his writing style, filling each page with humor and wonderful anecdotes! The quickest nonfiction read I've encounter ...more
Steven Olson
Good read for someone who wants to understand the thinking behind the person who commits himself to becoming a pilot first and then taking those skills to a new level as a combat pilot.

The book takes the reader through the authors experiences piloting some of the earlier planes, the P51 Mustang and some of the earlier fighter planes like the P38 and their quirks.

Well written and enjoyable.

Phillip Elliott
Robin Olds did not write this story. He put together all of the notes, pictures, journals and materials but his daughter and friends wrote it after his death., having said that, this is a fantastic story about the life and times of Robin Olds.

The story line is exceedingly well done. The imagery is vivid and paints great atmospheres around parts of the story and the individual short stories in the book. This is one of those stories about people that cut through what he did, and can be transposed
As a Former Marine Sergeant and a Retired Law Enforcement Officer I can honestly say that I have seen very few of what I would consider Heroes in my lifetime. After reading this true story of an American Fighter Pilot, I believe I have found a true Hero. I only wish I could have met this man. What an inspiration he was to so many American Military men and women. Every young American should read this book. This Hero loved America and lived that love. A real person not a Hollywood flunky. What a f ...more
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Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds

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“Fighter pilot is an attitude. It is cockiness. It is aggressiveness. It is self-confidence. It is a streak of rebelliousness, and it is competitiveness. But there's something else - there's a spark. There's a desire to be good. To do well; in the eyes of your peers, and in your own mind.” 3 likes
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