As the memoir of an aerobatic master born to fling his body through cloudbanks, Spitfire Wingman from Tennessee offers a unique birds-eye view of events and personalities of WWII and the Cold War. Encounters with Patton, Vandenberg, Yeager, Truman and Nixon are replayed with perception and wit. While jockeying P-40s, P-51s, and P-47s, he was privileged to see the war both from twenty thousand feet and as a Staff Officer at 9th Air Force HQ in Brussels. A stripped-down Thunderbolt fighter-bomber became his personal 400-mph runabout. Jim Haun took life at a run. After his mother’s death just before his ninth birthday, he worked in turn as Western Union bicycle messenger for fifteen dollars a week and work-a-way galley helper on an aging Atlantic freighter. Then, as the Memphis ‘Boy Wonder’ who built his first airplane in 1933 by adapting a motorcycle engine, the Colonel bears nostalgic witness to historic transformations steering manned flight from art toward automated science. This gifted flyer takes you on an intimate journey from barnstormer to dog-fighter, to threading the Himalayan ‘Hump’, to Berlin Airlift commander, then on to Presidential Squadron leader – finally becoming Chief Pilot of MATS. Balancing dry humor with just enough technical detail to please aviation buffs, this self-revealing air-venture thunders on twelve cylinders with sky-sweeping appeal. After retirement from the Air Force in 1965, Haun spent thirty more years as beloved flight instructor, participating in air shows, and building a biplane in his garage. He died peacefully at home attended by his two sons in 2001, six months before his 90th birthday.
“As the son of the Commander of 9th Air Force during WWII, I was able to connect J. R. Haun’s frank and unvarnished comments with what I was told as a teenager after my father’s return from Europe in 1945. Having thus been able to confirm the author’s credibility, I devoured this most interesting and unusual story. A Gem and a Keeper!” (Maj. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Jr.)
“This is one of the most enjoyable flying memoirs in this reviewer’s experience.... This book will be a favorite read for anyone who enjoys flying stores and is, at the same time, a wonderful tribute to one of the true characters of military aviation.” (Col. Larry Mayes, Military magazine)
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Great story can be hard to follow at times