Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds
Authored by Christina Olds and Ed Rasimus
Robin Olds was 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 jet demo team, a racer in the Thompson Trophy race, and the only U.S. exchange officer to command an RAF squadron. In the tabloid press he was the dashing flying hero who married the glamorous movie star. For the current crop of fighter pilots he is best known as the leader of the F-4 Wolfpack battling over North Vietnam. For cadets at the Air Force Academy he was a role model and mentor. He was all of those things and more.
Here’s Robin’s story in his own words and gleaned from the family and friends of his lifetime. Here’s the talent and learning, the passion and leadership, the love and disappointments of his life. Few men have written on the tablets of aviation history with such a broad and indelible brush. Olds was a classic hero with vices as well as virtues, a life writ large that impacted many.
I knew of this book but had never read it until a listener forwarded a copy. In short, I enjoyed it immensely. Well-written and gripping throughout, the reader learns to love Robin from a young age, through the entirety of his long and illustrious career, until his heartfelt sundown ending 386 short pages later.
Robin is often known as the “fighter pilot’s fighter pilot…” which I always scratch my head at but don’t want to admit not fully understanding. I interpret it as he is brave, daring, and bold when he needs to be, but caring and thoughtful with family and the widows of his fallen men—that is, a dichotomy of sorts. Robin does not suffer fools, nor does he take lightly the seeming injustices that befall nearly any man, especially a military man.
As a former fighter pilot myself, I both identified with much of the book but also stood in awe of the legacy this man crafted for himself. Sports have their “greats,” like Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, and Johnny Unitas, to name a few. In air combat, we have Robin Olds.
If you enjoy military history, personal narratives, patriotism, and the hero’s journey, you’ll love Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds.