In 1941, Glen Edwards learned to fly in a fabric-covered biplane. Seven years later, he died in the crash of the Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing, the Air Force’s most advanced jet warplane and forerunner of the B-2 Stealth bomber of today. As a combat pilot in North Africa and Italy during World War II, and as a test pilot during a period of astonishing innovation, Edwards was among the best of a new generation of military aviators. The isolated desert base where Edwards crashed would be named in his honor.
Throughout his military career, Glen Edwards kept a diary of what he did and what he thought. Military historian Daniel Ford situates that diary in the context of World War II, the development of flight testing as a science, and the birth of an independent U.S. Air Force. He shows how military pilots in the 1940s augmented their seat-of-the-pants bravado and precision flying skills with rigorous academic training. Conveying both the exhaustion of combat and the exhilaration of flying some of the world’s fastest, most sophisticated planes, the book traces the tragic course of Glen Edwards’s career: the near-daily bombing missions over Africa and Italy, a record-breaking cross-country flight in the weird XB-42 Mixmaster, and trial flights in the YB-49 Flying Wing—the first plane Edwards ever actively disliked. The innovative Northrop bomber, Daniel Ford concludes, just wasn’t ready for prime time. With photographs from the Air Force and the Edwards family.
"A fascinating tale and a tribute to an unassuming man who simply loved to fly." -- Air & Space / Smithsonian
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About the Author
Daniel Ford has spent a lifetime reading and writing about the wars of the past hundred years, from the Irish rebellion of 1916 to the counter-guerrilla operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is best known for his history of the American Volunteer Group--the 'Flying Tigers' of the Second World War--and his Vietnam novel that was filmed as Go Tell the Spartans, starring Burt Lancaster. Most recently, he has turned to the invasion of Poland in 1939 by Germany and Soviet Russia. Most of his books and many shorter pieces are available in digital editions He lives and works in New Hampshire.