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Like Homer's Odyssey, An Airman's Odyssey tells the incredible story of a twenty-one year journey highlighted by one amazing adventure after another. The story you are about to read will take you on a fifty thousand mile journey from the East Coast of the United States to the West, across the largest ocean in the world five times, to a tropical island barely big enough to land a plane on. It will transport you deep inside a military program larger and more secret than any since the Manhattan Project, then to the foot of an erupting volcano, the second largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century. This is the story of invisible laser beams fired from jet airplanes at targets on the ground several miles away. It's also the story of senators and generals, FBI agents working with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to prevent a major compromise of classified information, and of losing a friend, killed in the line of duty. It is a story of the love of family, and a deep appreciation for country. It's a voyage of self-discovery, and of going home, none of which would be possible without divine intervention at every critical turn. Just as when the gods intervened for and against Odysseus, the forces of fortune and adversity can be clearly seen in An Airman's Odyssey; but unlike Homer's Odyssey, this is no work of fiction. The stories are real, and the divine intervention is focused and purposeful, not cunning and divisive. It will take the reader, as it did the author, on a wonderful journey across the spectrum of human emotions, from laughter to tears, suspense to a sense of relief, as well as adventure and intrigue. So sit down, relax, and hang on, the journey is about to begin...
"Very few, if any, career officers have had such a varied and extremely interesting career. This writing provides a virtual history of important facets of military and national issues facing our country, along with documented details of how they were handled. Well written, well documented, and it certainly holds one's attention and interest." - Lieutenant General LeRoy J. Manor, US Air Force (Retired), Task Force Commander, Operation Ivory Coast (Son Tay Raid); Commander, Thirteenth Air Force; World War II P-47 Fighter Pilot; Vietnam War F-100 Fighter Pilot; Member of Hollowy Commission investigating Iran Hostage Rescue failure. "A work of historical significance, this book truly stands alone among the spate of recent books on US Special Operations. Superbly well researched by one whose varied career encompasses every aspect of today's military joint special operations at both the tactical (operational), interagency, and strategic levels. Jim has planned, flown, and commanded record-setting AC-130 gunship missions; conducted airoborne strike operations; served as a 'plank holder' in a groundbreaking command that continues to be at the 'tip of the spear.' Put another way, Jim has "Been there...Done that " I couldn't put it down." - Colonel Richard F. Brauer, Jr., US Air Force (Retired), Commandant USAF Special Operations School, Joint Special Operations Agency, 1st Special Operations Wing
Three award-winning works of adventure, survival, and the early days of aviation from the celebrated author of The Little Prince, collected in one volume. Ranging from the northern skies of France to the South American Andes, this volume includes two memoirs and a novel, each informed by the lauded pilot and poet’s experiences as a pioneering aviator during World War II. Wind, Sand and Stars Recounting his early days flying airmail routes across the African Sahara, Saint-Exupéry explores the spiritual, philosophical, and physical wonders of navigating the passes of the Pyrenees, the peaks of the Andes, and the wasteland of the Libyan desert. This memoir, a National Book Award winner that was voted a National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time, is “a beautiful book, a brave book, and a book that should be read against the confusion of this world” (The New York Times). Night Flight Overseeing night-mail flights in Buenos Aires, Riviere is a believer in remaining faithful to the mission and has trained his pilots to stave off the fear of death. But when he discovers that one of his planes is lost in a storm after flying out of Patagonia, both his authority and his beliefs will be challenged, in a novel that won France’s Prix Femina Award and was made into a classic film. Flight to Arras Saint-Exupéry’s memoir of a harrowing reconnaissance mission during the Battle of France in 1940—as one of only a handful of pilots who continued to fight in solidarity against the inevitable German invasion—was a recipient of the Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Aéro-Club de France. “Saint-Exupéry . . . blends adventure with reflection in a way few writers have.” —Richard Bach Translated by Lewis Galantière and Stuart Gilbert
This unique book moves rhythmically between fact and fiction. Gene Cowen writes one chapter of his own life, then switches to fiction, and then back again to fact. He starts with his life as an Air Corps combat navigator during World War II. In a fiction chapter, his alter ego, Navigator, is shot down and rescued by an Italian family and their daughter Maria. He later meets Maria as a Rome prostitute. Navigator gets Maria out of the whoring business and she falls in love with him. Cowen, in real life, then becomes a journalist in the U.S., later works in Congress, then the White House. In fiction, Maria, now married to someone else, follows Navigator to Washington. Her husband gets involved with extremists, who put a Mob contract on his life, and then he becomes a conspirator of the Watergate burglars. Navigator works a deal with a Mob boss to save Maria's husband's life, and later coaches him on how to get out of Watergate break-in charges. Throughout this there is the tension of unrequited love and the ominous presence of a Mob gunman. Maria is in love with Navigator. But he is married and loves her, "but not quite the same way." The gunman, deflected by the Mob boss, lurks in the background. Gene Cowen writes a unique story of his own life and fantasizes on what might have been, what could have been.
An Airman's Odyssey is the fascinating saga of the airline industry's early years and of the pioneer airmen who tamed America's last great wilderness—the sky. It is both a sweeping adventure story and an absorbing history of the evolution of flight and flight management, as witnessed by one of the industry's pioneer aviators, Walt Braznell. An Airman's Odyssey describes the airlines' origins and early development, dwelling at length upon that crucial and immensely colorful period between the awarding of the first air mail contracts in 1925 and the infamous "Airline Spoils Scandals" of 1934. The book goes on to chronicle the advent of the first great passenger liner, the DC-3; the tremendous advances in aviation technology and the boom in air travel during and immediately following World War II; and the reasons U.S. aircraft manufacturers and airlines lagged so far behind the British and the French in ushering in the Jet Age. Side by side with this fast-paced historical narrative, An Airman's Odyssey relates the story of a fledgling air mail pilot's education in aerial survival and his subsequent progress up the ranks to chief pilot and ultimately to vice president and director of American Airlines' six-thousand-man flight department. Along the way, the reader is introduced to a cast that includes a young (and surprisingly rambunctious) Charles A. Lindbergh; Missouri Air National Guard's beloved commander Phil Love; St. Louis's Robertson brothers; aviation novelist Ernie Gann; National Air Races champion Benny Howard; and dozens of other legendary figures of American aviation. A mixture of fact and legend, humor and tragedy, history and memoir—"with a set of operating instructions thrown in for good measure"—An Airman's Odyssey includes dozens of photographs of these airmen and the aircraft they flew, as well as illustrations and discourses on subjects ranging from aerial maneuvers (aerobatics) to the anatomy of a thunderstorm. An Airman's Odyssey should appeal to not only airmen and aviation enthusiasts but also any airline passenger who has ever given a passing thought to the human endeavor and personal sacrifice that, in scarcely more than a generation, transformed air travel from the most dangerous to the safest mode of mass transportation in the world.
This book, which could be called the "essential" guide to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, includes selections that cover his early years in the airmail service through the occupation of France by Germany during World War II. Introduction by Richard Bach.

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