Robin Olds - Fighter Pilot

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MKopack

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Unread post11 Oct 2009, 00:59

Robin Olds - Fighter Pilot.

Everyone has their own "if I could meet" list and he'd always been right at the top of mine, although I never had the chance.

This original artwork, signed "Mason '67", is from the Robin Olds Estate, and is now very proudly up on my wall.

As an old crew chief, if I squint a little, I can almost picture myself there on the flightline at Ubon RTAFB, ready to strap the then Colonel in.

Higher res scan at http://www.lucky-devils.net/olds.jpg

Mike
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F-16A/B/C/D P&W/GE Crew Chief and Phased Maint.
56TTW/63TFTS 1987-1989
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Scorpion1alpha

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Unread post12 Oct 2009, 08:29

:salute:
I'm watching...
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tbarlow

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Unread post18 Dec 2009, 04:42

I found this great interview with BG Robin Olds on youtube. There
are four parts, but there all worth watching. :salute:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8eD1Xft ... re=related
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MKopack

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Unread post30 Dec 2009, 21:35

For those interested, pre-orders are now available from Amazon.com for "Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds" by Robin Olds, Christina Olds, and Ed Rasimus at http://www.amazon.com/Fighter-Pilot-Memoirs-Legendary-Robin/dp/0312560230. The long awaited book (and audio book) is due out April 13, 2010.

My Christmas present to myself this year, came in the mail on Monday from the estate auction. Not really worth anything much as hat pins, but a lot more to me knowing from whose hat they came.

Mike
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StolichnayaStrafer

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Unread post31 Dec 2009, 03:36

Truly he was one of the best- a straight shooting soldier if there ever was, definitely a top shelf warrior in every aspect.

The world is a sadder place without him indeed. :cry:
Why is the vodka gone?
Why is the vodka always gone... oh- that's why!
Hide the vodka!!!
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MKopack

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Unread post12 Apr 2010, 20:18

Just ahead of the release of "Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds" is this review from today's Wall Street Journal, by Dan Ford. The book, written by Robin, his daughter Christina, and former F-105 pilot - and noted military aviation author - Ed Rasimus, will be available nationwide tomorrow.

A Man On a Mission
A combat pilot remembers Vietnam—the MiGs, the flak, the high jinks and the target limitations.

http://online.wsj.com/articleSB10001424052702303382504575164841740414472.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

By DANIEL FORD

We're familiar with photographs of triumphant GI's in World War II, manning a hard-won position in the Solomon Islands or entering a newly liberated French town. From the Vietnam War such photos are few and far between—but they do exist. The dust-jacket of "Fighter Pilot" shows Col. Robin Olds on an airfield in Thailand as he returns from his 100th mission of the war, the one that ends his combat career. (In truth, he had flown 152 missions, but he low-balled the count rather than be grounded before his year-long tour was over.) He is being carried jubilantly to the officers' club on the shoulders of the men who have followed him into battle. He is 45 years old and impossibly handsome, with jutting jaw, half smile, handlebar mustache, crow's feet at the eyes and of course a cigarette between his lips. It's 1967, and the man is a fighter pilot.

When Robin Olds flew his first mission, in World War II, a fighter pilot needed to be young enough to withstand high levels of G-force. It is not unusual in combat for a pilot to be jammed into his seat by six G's—six times the force of gravity—so that he suddenly weighs half a ton. The blood rushes out of his skull and his vision may dim to gray, then black. By the time of the Vietnam War a G-suit, with its inflatable bladders, could substitute for the suppleness of young muscles, and electronics went far to make up for reflexes that were no longer youthful and fast.

So the modern U.S. Air Force is routinely able to put majors and colonels in the cockpit—but it is so dominant at the moment that in the 21st century no American pilot has shot down an enemy aircraft. Who in his right mind would challenge the U.S. in the air? This turn of events makes Robin Olds—107 combat missions as a youngster, 152 missions as a full colonel and 16 aerial victories—one of a kind. His career couldn't have happened in the old days, when middle-age men didn't fly combat missions, and it is unlikely to happen again. The whole fighter-pilot ethos, from the cigarette to the mustache, from the rule-breaking to the red stars on the fuselage (each denoting, in Vietnam, a MiG fighter shot down), is a relict of the past.

In "Fighter Pilot," Robin Olds tells the story in his own words, more or less. He died in 2007, leaving what his daughter Christina calls "multiple boxes of diaries, military documents, films, letters, interviews, articles, and photographs," not to mention the notes that she took during their last hours together. Ms. Olds whipped this material into a first-person tale with the help of Ed Rasimus, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War and the author of "When Thunder Rolled" (2004), one of the best combat memoirs ever written.

There is no need to sanctify the fighter pilot. He isn't an easy man to be around: Robin Olds's marriage to actress Ella Raines (who died of cancer in 1988) was always rocky. They both drank too much, and by his own account he wasn't the most faithful of husbands. Such waywardness is fairly standard for the profession. The fighter pilot's job is to shoot planes out of the sky—with human beings inside them. Doing such work, at the risk of his own life, leaves him drenched with sweat and pumped with adrenaline, which he may exorcise with alcohol and high jinks on a scale that would leave a fraternity boy in awe.

Here is the colonel with his pet monkey, named for a certain 1960s activist: "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 directions. Then he'd jump on the back shelves and make one pass down behind the bottles, screeching the whole way. It was chaos: bottles breaking, guys yelling while protecting their drinks, Thai waitresses screaming, the bar manager shouting a stream of Thai curses, and me laughing. What was their problem?"

Funny, yes, but not what the U.S. Congress had in mind when it commissioned Lt. Robin Olds, in June 1943, as an "officer and gentleman." But then again, what gentleman, more than 20 years later, would willingly fly over and over into North Vietnam? "Missiles streaked past," he writes of one such mission, "flak blackened the sky, tracers laced patterns across my canopy, and then, capping the day, MiGs would suddenly appear—small, sleek sharks, cutting and slashing, braving their own flak, firing missiles, guns." A nearby U.S. plane disappears in an explosion, caught by a surface-to-air missile, "only small pieces of flaming debris marking the end of two young lives, but on we'd go, 20 miles yet to the target." He didn't have to go, remember. Few colonels did.

Col. Olds makes a point of lamenting the target limitations imposed by Washington. "Haiphong Harbor near Hanoi was the worst insult of all," he writes. "We should have closed it down . . . but we couldn't touch it. Ships came in and went, bringing in supplies, MiGs, trucks, ammunition, food, cement to fix the blown bridges, you name it. The Vietcong troops received their stuff within days—and we were letting it happen!"

In the dust-jacket photo, what can't readily be seen is that the colonel is weeping: "I couldn't stop the tears running down my face." His sorrow comes from the knowledge that he'll no longer be allowed to lead young men to war. With 100 official missions behind him, he will become a brigadier general and a commander of the Air Force Academy, never again to fly an airplane in combat. His memoir is one man's account of war and, in its way, a tribute to a vanished breed of men.

Mr. Ford is the author of, among other books, "Remains: A Story of the Flying Tigers," about young fighter pilots in World War II.


Salute Robin, and thank you to Christina and Ed for helping us to remember this true American leader. This true American Hero.

Mike
F-16A/B/C/D P&W/GE Crew Chief and Phased Maint.
56TTW/63TFTS 1987-1989
401TFW/614TFS 1989-1991
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MKopack

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Unread post19 Apr 2010, 04:44

Damn, I finished Fighter Pilot tonight. Four hundred pages, and I wish there were 400 more. General Olds has been a hero of mine as long as I can remember, and I think even more so now.

Christina, Robin's daughter, has said how surprised he was in the last few months before he passed away in 2007 by the widespread outpouring of support for him, as his medical condition became more known. He'd thought that he was a largely forgotten old man, with forgotten ideas. It's sad that we need him, and his ideas now, as much as we ever have - but our Air Force seems to want to remember him as a simple "museum piece" without any of the lessons he tried to teach us all. It's up to us to remember.

Christina & Ed Rasimus - Robin's 'co-writers' - and Robin Olds himself, should be proud of these memoirs. I know I had tears in my eyes when I got to the last page.

I can not recommend it highly enough.

Mike
F-16A/B/C/D P&W/GE Crew Chief and Phased Maint.
56TTW/63TFTS 1987-1989
401TFW/614TFS 1989-1991
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sundowner11

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Unread post28 Apr 2010, 22:10

Has anyone on this site met Olds in person?
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mpennock

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Unread post30 Apr 2010, 21:11

I met him, briefly, after he gave a talk at Oshkosh four or five years ago. It was just about long enough for a 'thank you' and a handshake, but he still impressed me with both his talk and the way he interacted with those of us who gathered around afterwards.

Mike
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tbarlow

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Unread post15 May 2010, 03:22

I have a warning for those of that are about to buy the book, tell your family you will be gone in another world while reading it. You will have a very hard time putting it down once you start. One of the best ever!
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Unread post16 May 2010, 01:12

tbarlow wrote:I have a warning for those of that are about to buy the book, tell your family you will be gone in another world while reading it. You will have a very hard time putting it down once you start. One of the best ever!


Like all good reads. :wink:

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