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Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds
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Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,932 ratings  ·  149 reviews
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 beca
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published April 1st 2010)
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Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
William Young
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Mortensen
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, vietnam, memoir
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
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, aviation
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
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Ken Burkhalter
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Frank Theising
As a member of the U.S. Air Force assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing it seemed only fitting that I read the memoirs of the man who led the unit to fame in Vietnam and who coined the unit nickname “Wolfpack.” I have mixed feelings about this book. Robin Olds was unquestionably a great pilot who led from the front and inspired his men during our nation’s most frustrating and challenging war. His no-nonsense attitude, initiative, and commitment to being the very best at his craft are traits I highly ...more
David Readmont-Walker
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding Robin.
Francis Gahren
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military, leadership
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
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look into the life of a fighter pilot in the WW2 and Vietnam era.
Chris Broyhill
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mark Jespersen
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a story of a swaggering, hard working, brash, daring fighter plot. He played hard, he worked hard, and he lived a high flying life. Entertaining read. Particularly enjoyed his thoughts on the Vietnam war and his endless fights with military bureaucracy.
Jay Jackson
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved it.
Michael Gibby
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Jake Page
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Superb!! He was my mentor. General Olds laid the foundation for thousands of American fighter pilots trying to turn the Air Force back into a fighting machine. I entered the Air Force in 1980 and he had already retired - but we heard the stories, we rebuilt the Air Force fighter machine in his image. Robin tells the story of thriving in war, fighting aerial battles every day, and living life to its fullest. He will always be remembered as a true warrior and leader of men. What better tribute? Hi ...more
Phil Villarreal
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
With humbleness, a natural, easygoing voice and unbridled passion, Robin Olds tells his life story as though he were hunkered down over a beer or three at the VFW. His book is filled with spectacular stories of death-defying battles in the skies during World War II and Vietnam.

He downplays his exploits rather than embellish them. Despite his heroism, he saw himself as just a regular guy doing his job.

Sometimes Olds loses track of the point of his tales by getting mucked up in technical minutiae,
Jean Boobar
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Mears
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Quite a life. To have grown up knowing the pioneers of American aviation, then to have fought through WWII and Vietnam was definitely an interesting story.
Gen. Olds is not always likeable, though mostly he is. Telling his own story and being honest about his faults makes his derogatory description of some others somewhat more tolerable.

Good information and worth the time if this area of history interests you. I enjoyed it.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This one had a slow start, but when Robin went to visit London for the first time, I was hooked. The book dragged at various points, the macho man vibe was strong (though I appreciated a few moments of self reflection), and I found myself wondering about his wife’s perspective often. Furthermore, reading about Vietnam is pretty heartbreaking. However, it was an intriguing read, and his story is a wild ride I’m glad I took the time to experience.
Katelyn Bair
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! The places, people and events that Robin experienced in his life is incredible. I will recommend this one to anyone who wants to know what it was really like to be involved in war. Robin is an example of a great American who liked to push the limit of flight and was never afraid to say what he believed in.
Cynthia Cline
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was good. I think any aviation fan will thoroughly enjoy it. For me, there was a lot of technical details that I could care less about. I enjoyed the personal stories more than the specifics of missions flown. There is no doubt in my mind that Gen Olds was a great fighter pilot. This book is probably best for a certain genre of military/aviation fanatics.
Mike Kenefic
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to live your life with honor and passion, as a fighter pilot or a bus driver or anything else. The satisfaction comes with how you live your life, not what your occupation is. Strength and honor, Robin Olds, led from the front, doesn't get any better than that.

I loved it all, totally honest, open with both the high and lows. Truly, we will never see his like again.
Phill Wilder
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some of it was fun to read. Fighter pilots have to have a certain zeitgeist to be a live fighter pilot. For us ordinary folks it is unimaginable. May we always breed a raise stalwarts like Robin Olds.
Josh Wilson
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book on Robin Old's life and contribution as a fighter pilot in WW2 and Vietnam. Overall I though it flowed well and was interesting, but there were times that the book slowed down for me, and it was hard to keep going, but those instances were small and few.
Dave Monds
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptinal memoir from one of histories’ consummate fighter pilots

A wonderful history of the great man. Lacking a little detail on places but rich in others. The closing words of this book were powerfully emotive. Fly well Robin.
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ROBIN OLDS "was an American fighter pilot and general officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was a 'triple ace', with a combined total of 16 victories in World War II and the Vietnam War. He retired in 1973 as a brigadier general.

"The son of regular Army Capt. Robert Olds [who had served as a flight instructor in France during the First World War and later became an advocate of strategic bombing in U.S
“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.” 6 likes
“Rather than flying willy-nilly into danger, we thought before we acted, acted quickly whenever we had to, yet still felt frustrated when the action passed us by and the older groups were given the more lucrative targets, or when operational reports told of aerial battles that we had missed.” 1 likes
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