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In the Cockpit with Robin Olds is the ninth volume in the Passion for Flight series. These short biographies (20,000 words or less) tell the stories of notable pilots who inspire young and old alike to take to the skies.
Robin Olds tried to join up with the Royal Canadian Air Force when Hitler invaded Poland, but his father shot down the idea. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in June 1940, where his football prowess led to his selection as an All-American. After primary flight training and fighter pilot training, he was assigned to RAF Wattisham, England, in May 1944. He achieved his first aerial kill in July 1944 and became a double ace before the end of that war.
He wasn't happy when he was assigned back to West Point as assistant football coach and talked his way into an assignment with the 412th Fighter Group at March Field in February 1946. While there, he joined the first jet aerobatic demonstration team. He went to England in October 1948 under the U.S. Air Force/Royal Air Force Exchange Program, becoming the first foreigner to command a regular British squadron.
After two more decades in the service, Olds found himself commanding the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. While in that position, he became a triple ace and executed Operation Bolo, during which the pilots under his command, flying F-4s, destroyed seven MiG-21s, almost half of the sixteen then in service with the Vietnam People's Air Force. He flew 162 combat missions in Vietnam, and later served as commandant of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1968 and retired from the Air Force in 1973, with many military decorations and awards. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.
Di Freeze and Deborah Grigsby interviewed Robin Olds at his home in Steamboat Springs. This interview is not meant to be a comprehensive history of Robin Old's life, although it contains the major milestones in his military career.
About the Author
The books in the Passion for Flight series include In the Cockpit with Chuck Yeager, In the Cockpit with Bob Hoover, In the Cockpit with Cliff Robertson, In the Cockpit with Sean Tucker, In the Cockpit with Morgan Freeman, In the Cockpit with Tony Bill, In the Cockpit with John Travolta, In the Cockpit with Harrison Ford, In the Cockpit with Robin Olds, and In the Cockpit with Al Ueltschi.
Upcoming biographies will feature military greats such as Brig. Gen. Tex Hill; Hollywood director and actor Sydney Pollack; aerobatic superstar Patty Wagstaff; astronauts Maj. Gen. Bill Anders, Capt. Gene Cernan and Brig. Gen. Charlie Duke; entrepreneurs Clay Lacy, Linden Blue, and Barron Hilton; legendary golfer Arnold Palmer; country singer Aaron Tippin; comedian Jeff Dunham, and many others.
Di Freeze lives in Colorado. She also writes a blog, Same Shih Tzu Different Day, about her four rescued shih tzus: three half-sisters from a puppy mill and an owner release male.
Deborah Grigsby is a retired military print journalist and freelance writer and photographer with experience in editorial, portrait, and wedding photography. She is a national award-winning scribe specializing in local military celebrities, technology, and human-interest pieces.
Deborah Grigsby lives in Colorado.