Robert Olds | Revolvy
Robin Olds, a "triple ace" fighter pilot of World War II and the Vietnam War. His last marriage was to Nina Gore Auchincloss, daughter of Senator . Hawaii submitted three letters of recommendation on his behalf, he passed the Life and career Born Ella Wallace Raubes near Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, Ella Raines. Tips to get the best answers from experts at air shows . Robin Olds was a 5- year-old Air Corps brat who knew he wanted to be a fighter pilot. In , he married Hollywood actress Ella Raines and enjoyed a glamorous scraps with his superior officers, and the valuable relationships he developed with. Robin Olds and the Eighth Tactical Fighter Wing, and over 70 MiG fighter aircraft, with no guidance from above and with tactics designed .. across the most gorgeous woman he had ever laid eyes on -- the actress Ella Raines. Pappy also got married that year, but his marriage did not have a happy ending.
Many older fighter pilots instead could be found performing crew duties in bombers and transports. Others worked in limited resource specialties such as development, engineering, and procurement, and could not be replaced.
Still others were leaving the Air Force to take lucrative jobs with civilian airlines; in the mids, the U. Air Force was losing over 1, pilots a year to the rapidly expanding commercial-aviation sector. There was, however, one iconoclastic colonel left at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina who had no aspirations to be an airline pilot, or even a general officer.
This pilot embodied the best and the worst qualities of America's jet-pilot elite. On the one hand, he could inspire young men to kill by leading from the front -- a rare skill that can never be overvalued, in a profession dedicated to violence and the force of arms -- but he also drank too much, spoke his mind at every opportunity, loved using abusive language, occasionally interpreted orders loosely, and often failed to show appropriate deference towards his superiors. The man, in short, was a loose cannon, and General Momyer knew it.
The Eighth Wing needed to be jump-started -- and Colonel Robin Olds, with his cockpit style of leadership, might just do the trick. Robin Olds' story stands out as one of the most interesting examples of true flight-suit leadership in modern air-power history.
In the Eighth Wing did not possess a more talented group of pilots than any other F-4 wing in Vietnam. The th Wing, based at Da Nang in South Vietnam, for example, had just as many skilled pilots, but this unit only achieved 18 aerial victories during the war compared to the Eighth Wing's What transformed the Eighth from an ordinary line outfit into the premier MiG-killing wing of the period was Robin Olds' leadership and the sheer force of his personality.
Olds' tremendous success as a combat leader stemmed from three elements in his personality: Olds never asked someone else to do something that he wouldn't do himself. He also did his utmost to shield his men from policies and orders that he deemed nonsensical or downright dangerous.
This last characteristic made him a controversial figure with his superiors and hurt his career in the long run. His tendency to fraternize with his men also hurt his reputation. The old pilot adage, "Live by the throttle, die by the bottle," certainly applied to Robin Olds.
His love for drink bordered on alcoholism. However, given the Zeitgeist of the Vietnam War, where most U. As one aviator put it: We weren't fighting to defend our country, no one was threatening our country. We weren't fighting to defend the South Vietnamese. On the contrary, we were disgusted by the pictures and stories of those long-haired, Honda-riding, drug-dealing, draft-dodging, duck-legged little bastards living their corrupt lives in Saigon, actually buying their way out of the draft, while our guys were being sent over to die for them.
For what actual purpose we were over there, I don't know even today, 26 years later. Olds, in short, made his men want to fight for him and the unit rather than for the unpopular cause of the war. For his men, he transformed the war from a vague cause to a personal crusade. A Tradition of Arms: He began his speech by saying, "My name is Robin Olds and I want to identify myself to everybody in this room: Peace is not my profession! In front of them stood one of the most decorated officers from the Vietnam War making fun of their beloved motto, "Peace is our profession.
The answers to these questions lie in Olds' unique background. Born in Hawaii inRobin Olds grew up steeped in the culture of American airpower. Robin Olds, in short, grew up surrounded by a small but very famous group of pilots. To these men, and ultimately to Robin, the air service was not a paycheck, a stepping stone to the airlines, an opportunity to attend schools and gain training, or a bureaucracy dedicated to expanding its empire.
Rather, it was a small priesthood of warriors dedicated to fighting and winning America's wars. The 1, officers in the U. Army Air Corps in the early s served their country with almost no potential for promotion and at half pay because of the Depression. Throughout his life, Olds would take great umbrage at officers of any rank who did not possess this level of dedication to the service. General Olds hit the roof. West Point would guarantee Robin a regular commission, and with it accelerated promotions for the rest of his career.
Robin Olds entered West Point during a unique period in that institution's history. Due to the wartime emergency, cadets who started classes in would graduate a year early.
Furthermore, those destined for the Army Air Corps would earn both their wings and their gold lieutenant's bars in a mere three years. Robin did his basic and advanced flight training at Stewart Field, just 17 miles north of the academy, played football, and passed all his academic courses.
He enjoyed flying, his classmates, and playing football as an All-American offensive right tackle inbut he despised the school's tactical officers the men who taught nonacademic military courses such as drill and marksmanship. The staff at West Point disappointed him in this regard -- very few had ever heard a shot fired in anger.
Another aspect of the place that left a bitter taste in Olds' mouth was its strong emphasis on alumni networking. When asked if he ever engaged in ring knocking the practice of showing your class ring to gain special treatment from commandersOlds recoiled. That might be true with the infantry or the coast artillery or that bunch, but not in my business, which was raw goddamn fighter piloting. Hell, we had to hide the fact that we were West Pointers when I got out of the place because we were detested!
Infor example, only 37 percent of regular U. Air Force for such it now was officers possessed four-year college degrees. In such an environment, a West Point ring could be a source of jealousy and resentment.
Olds refused to take advantage of his West Point status simply to please others. He flew with the th during its roughest month -- June of During this month of the Normandy-invasion, young American pilots fresh from training were thrown up against some of Germany's top aces and paid dearly for their lack of experience. Fourteen pilots went down that month, including the group commander, Colonel K.
On 11 August, the tide began to turn for th. In an attempt to improve the unit's performance, the Army Air Forces sent Colonel Hubert "Hub" Zemke, already an ace and an experienced group commander, to take over the unit.
Before taking over the th Group, Zemke led the 56th Fighter Group, a unit credited with air-to-air victories. By the end of the war, Zemke himself would have On his first day at Wattisham, Zemke sat the whole group down informally on the parade ground and gave them "the speech. This was the "Zemke way. Hub Zemke impressed Olds on both a professional and a personal level.
Professionally, Hub could fly an airplane better than anyone in the group. Possessing keen situational awareness, Hub would often lead flight right to an attacking squadron of German fighters without once referring to a map during the entire six hour mission.
As a leader, he turned the unit around by insisting on basic tactics and instilling discipline into his troops. Under him, pilots were not permitted to strafe a heavily defended target until heavy bombers had softened the defenses with pound bombs. Escort squadrons would provide top cover to prevent enemy fighters from bouncing the group, and wingmen would always support their leaders.
But his most significant tactical innovation was the "Zemke Fan. Zemke convinced Lieutenant General William Kepner, the head of the VIII Fighter Command, that if some fighters fanned out well ahead of the bomber force, many German fighters would be shot down while forming up to attack the bomber stream. On the ground, Zemke held classes on such subjects as fighter tactics, geography, and enemy air defenses.
He relentlessly hammered basic concepts into the young minds of his jocks until they finally got it. Was he a disciplinarian? Most certainly -- but one who could instill discipline with panache. When Zemke walked into Wattisham, he put a sign up on his office door that said, "Knock before you enter. I am a bastard too. Let's see you salute. Robin Olds did just that in August He blazed over the bridge at miles per hour and knocked one of its spans out with a pound bomb. They were not dust but the silhouettes of two Focke-Wulf s -- a highly maneuverable German air-superiority fighter.
Rather than retreat, Olds stayed low and surprised the two bogeys from the rear. The dumb shits didn't see me. I shot the wingman and when he blew up that got the leader's attention. The German pilot bailed out and his plane crashed in a field about a hundred yards away from him. The span still bore signs of his handiwork four years earlier.
With two relatively easy kills under his belt, Robin Olds became cocky and overconfident. Two weeks later, On 25 Augustthis attitude nearly killed him. On this day Olds, now a flight leader, was leading a four-plane formation in a sweep to Berlin. Zemke's plan called for Olds and the other 64 pilots of the th to fly ahead of an American bombing force in an attempt to flush out fighter opposition. The flight would then escort the bombers through the most heavily defended areas near Berlin and then "beat the hell out of anything that flew, rolled, floated, or crawled in Germany.
Several miles south of Muritzgee, Olds' flight ran straight into a huge swarm of 55 Messerschmitt s. The ME, Germany's most famous fighter of the war, had a maximum speed of mph and carried a mm cannon and two mm machine guns.
Olds' twin-engine P, by comparison, could reach a top speed of mph and carried one mm cannon and four. As Olds remembered it, the hair on his neck began to stand up, so he edged his flight way out to the left of the group.
Finally, he spotted his prey. Frightened, the pilots in his number three and four planes bugged out, leaving Olds and his wingman alone against this massive armada of Nazi fighter power. The MEs were in perfect position to wipe out the attacking Allied bomber force.
I also knew the two of us were about to attack fifty-five enemy aircraft alone. Suddenly, his engines sputtered and quit. In all the excitement, he had forgotten to switch fuel tanks and his engines had run dry.
Without taking his eyes off the target, he switched tanks. The engines erupted and came back to life, and Olds took his shot. I fired and he sparkled with hits, smoked, dove off on his right wing and promptly bailed out.
He downed this second Messerschmitt with a lucky deflection shot, earning him his second kill for the day and fourth in the war. Olds then pulled out of his dive at 15, feet with both his Allison engines at full boost. The force of this pullout sucked the canopy right off his aircraft. He was now miles from home in enemy territory, low on gas, so cold he was teetering on the edge of hypothermia, and with limited maneuverability due to his open cockpit.
If that weren't enough, an ME pulled into Olds' rear quadrant and started to pepper him with its and millimeter gunfire. The old P wouldn't turn worth two cents with that canopy gone, and the bullets continued to come home. The ME overestimated Olds' speed and overshot him. I rolled wings level, sighted, fired a long burst, and caught him square.
He knew then he would survive "for it was a different day; a different day for the rest of my life. Before the war ended, Olds would get another seven kills in the air and destroy He would also leave Europe a squadron commander and a major at the tender age of twenty-two. Footloose and fancy free, Robin Olds took 45 days of leave after the war and headed to California to visit his stepmother in Beverly Hills. His plan was to spend a month with this delightful, wonderful woman whom he "loved to death," attend some parties, and meet "fabulous people.
At one party he ran across a colonel named K. The next day Desert, who happened to run the local replacement depot, phoned Olds in an official capacity and told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was already a month late for his new post -- as Ned Blake's assistant football coach at West Point.
Olds jumped into a P and flew clear across the country to assume his new assignment. When he arrived, the academy adjutant immediately buttonholed him in the hall.
Olds saluted very smartly, but his dress and bearing were not good enough. It had taken Olds only two years in wartime to rise three ranks, but it would take him 22 years of peacetime service plus a month tour in Vietnam to gain his next three.
He simply could not respect officers who had never experienced the dangerous work of combat. This attitude would nearly derail his entire military career. But promotions never mattered to Robin Olds; throughout his career, the opportunity to fly fighters, fight wars, and command like-minded men meant everything.
For his next assignment, Olds flew the P at March Field in Riverside, California for six months and then accepted a position with the Air Force's first jet aerobatic team. During one show near Palm Springs, Olds ran across the most gorgeous woman he had ever laid eyes on -- the actress Ella Raines. Famous for her supporting role in Tall in the Saddle with John Wayne, Raines had just finished a new film called The Senator Was Indiscreetand glowed bright with stardom.
Fearless in the air, Major Olds didn't do too well on the ground that night. Instead, he invited her to attend an aerobatic show at March Field.
A grandstand view of Olds' flying impressed Miss Raines, and soon the two were dating regularly. McNaughton, Raines' cousin claims otherwise. I was visiting Ella in her Beverly Hills home once when she had a date with Robin. I remember him coming down the steps into her huge, high-ceilinged living room, and absolutely filling it up with his charismatic presence.
She seemed so little next to him, but her expression was of amusement and complete control of the situation. Pappy also got married that year, but his marriage did not have a happy ending.
On 2 Julythe members of the aerobatic team got "falling down drunk" at a stag party for Herbst. On 3 July Pappy was married, and by 4 July he was dead. At a show in Del Mar, California Pappy didn't allow enough room for the team to complete a fancy landing pattern and pulled up a split second too late.
Olds sensed the disaster a moment sooner than Herbst and pulled up just in time, missing the ground by only ten feet. Barcus, who would later command the Fifth Air Force in Korea, believed that the cocky young Olds set a bad example for the younger pilots and needed to be reined in.
Rather than trying to make amends with the powerful general, Olds again looked for a way to buck the chain of command and sneak away from the assignment. His position in the headquarters building facilitated his defiance.
This was the first time a foreigner had ever commanded a regular RAF unit. Robin Olds' stint in England no doubt improved Anglo-American relations, but it did not help his career. When he got back to March AFB in the fall ofRobin found himself in charge of the 71st Squadron -- a squadron destined not for glory over the skies of Korea, but rather for garrison duty with the Air Defense Command in a delightful place called Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Pennsylvania.
At "Greater Armpit," as he affectionately calls the place, Olds not only commanded the 71st but was base commander as well; he found himself converting a reserve transport base into a regular Air Force fighter base while many of his friends were off in Korea shooting down MiGs. In the Pentagon General Freddie Smith, who later became vice chief of staff of the USAF, got word that Robin Olds was outprocessing, took him by the arm, and talked some sense into the impetuous major. But I learned a hell of lot and I worked with some wonderful damn fine people.
We were all doing our best. In the meantime, Smith at least managed to get Olds promoted to lieutenant colonel in and full colonel in Smith also gave Olds a well-deserved sabbatical from staff assignments in He sent Olds to Landstuhl, Germany, to command a squadron of Fs. Wheelus became a fighter-pilot safe haven in the s, a place where pilots could escape from staff officers and meddling wives and enjoy practice dogfights over the vast expanses of the North African desert.
James Salter, a pilot during this period, wrote, "We traveled and lived in tents; we had our time-worn code, our duties, and nothing more: Caused by the excessive G-forces to which he subjected his body, his hemorrhoids finally forced him out of the cockpit in Cazaux, France in After his third gunnery mission of the day, Robin was so weak from loss of blood that a crew chief had to pull him out of the bloody cockpit of his Sabre.
For forty days and forty nights, Olds would undergo a battery of painful operations in London. As if to add insult to injury, the Air Force rewarded him at the end of his surgery with another tour in the "five-sided squirrel cage [the Pentagon]. While in the Pentagon, Olds managed as usual to make many more enemies than friends. During this period, SAC45 generals dominated the entire Air Force staff establishment and they killed fighter-plane projects at every opportunity. Olds, ever the fighter pilot, tried to fight the bomber generals and lost.
On one occasion his boss, the deputy chief of staff for operations and a bomber general, called him into his office. You're not going to put on your leather jacket, your scarf, your helmet and goggles and go out and do battle with the Red Baron.
You've got to get it into your head: This attitude made Olds angrier with every passing year he spent in the Pentagon. Olds' staff studies may have been controversial but they were brilliantly written. He spent hours in the Army Department library on the A ring of the Pentagon reading everything from military classics to theology.
No one could accuse Robin Olds of being simply another dumb fighter pilot. The man possessed a keen analytical mind, keen enough for him to be selected to attend the National War College NWC in Study at NWC was a necessary prerequisite for selection to the rank of general officer, but that didn't mean much to Robin.
For him, the assignment meant another year in Washington, DC -- the land of the staff officer and the bureaucrat.
In the event of nuclear war, F Voodoo fighters50 from this unit would fly deep into Communist territory and obliterate airfields and SAM sites with nuclear bombs, thereby paving the way for more massive strikes by B bombers against industrial centers. It was a deep-penetration one-way nuclear strike force: Robin Olds arrived at Bentwaters a few weeks after the Kennedy assassination in and left in the fall of Olds met James in the Pentagon and the two officers immediately hit it off.
Chappie James, a self-proclaimed connoisseur of "deep-dish olive pies" martinisenjoyed knocking down a few drinks with the always convivial Olds after a long day in the Pentagon. During these gatherings, James would serenade the ace with World War II fighter-pilot songs or tell him tasteless jokes. As their friendship blossomed, Olds quickly recognized that James had talents that he himself lacked.
Whereas Olds preferred leading from the cockpit of a fighter, James' strength lay in managing ground operations. James could size up people, bureaucracy, and political factions in a hot minute, and could disarm them completely with his jovial wit and charm.
Olds, in short, chose James as his deputy to handle all the issues he hated -- personnel, paperwork, housing issues, community relations, the press, and so forth. In this role James excelled. The 81st Wing won the Daedalion Trophy in for outstanding maintenance capability, the American ambassador's Anglo-American Community Relations Award for five consecutive years, and the National Safety Council Award of Merit for four consecutive years.
Much of the work that went into winning these awards was James' doing, not Olds', and Robin would reward Chappie for his administrative efforts by bringing him to Thailand as deputy commander of the Eighth Wing several years later. Although Olds would never admit it, teaming up with a black officer during a period when the Air Force was struggling to make strides in the area of racial integration also had its benefits: But beyond simply generating good PR, Olds earned his kudos at Bentwaters by working relentlessly to make his nuclear strike force the U.
To him, the unit served no purpose unless his men were willing and able to strike hard at the enemy with nuclear weapons. Robin worked relentlessly to achieve that goal. He would stay up all night with the men in the alert shacks, lead three missions a day, and serve on alert status more than any other pilot.
He insists that he hated nuclear weapons, but he understood the underlying philosophy behind their existence and played his role in the Cold War nuclear standoff to the best of his abilities. Despite this achievement, the Air Force ultimately removed his name from the brigadier generals' promotion list.
Robin, in any event, did not want to be a general officer. During the s, general officers could not command wings or fly combat sorties. For him, it was a supreme irony of ironies that the Air Force, whose very mission was to "fly and fight," might not allow him to perform these roles as a general officer.
Thus, when he discovered that his name was on the generals' list, he quickly developed a scheme to sabotage his promotion prospects -- while at the same time honing his unit's flying skills. The team performed Thunderbird-style stunts around Europe in a plane designed primarily for straight and level flying. The FCs flown by the 81st Wing suffered from skin crack and corrosion problems -- structural problems that were exacerbated by the high-G maneuvers typical of aerobatic flying. Nevertheless, Olds believed in training the way the Air Force fights, and in combat a pilot often had to engage in high-G maneuvers to survive.
Unfortunately for him, his superior in London did not agree with this approach and actually pushed to have Olds court-martialed for his actions. He fired Olds as the 81st's commander, tore up his citation for a Legion of Merit, and sent him packing to South Carolina for six months to "cool his heels.
The war in Southeast Asia was heating up, and the rules began to change. The Air Force desperately needed proven combat leaders who could fly fast movers, and Olds soon received orders to report to Thailand as the commander of the Eighth Tactical Fighter Wing, nicknamed the "Wolf Pack. The Phantom in many ways embodied the American automobile culture of the late s and early s.
It was big, loud, phallic, smoky, and loaded with gee-whiz technical features -- in short, a Corvette with wings. Although not every feature worked on every mission, when things did work nothing in the North Vietnamese inventory could stand up to this mighty machine. For starters, the Phantom could cruise at a maximum sea-level speed of miles per hour, over mph faster than its rival, the MiG Its powerful radar was a supreme technological breakthrough at the time.
It could guide radar-homing Sparrow missiles to MiGs up to twelve miles away. The Soviets didn't have anything comparable. The F-4s carried up to four heat-seeking missiles: These missiles homed in on the hot exhaust of MiGs up to a mile away, thus theoretically eliminating the necessity of having to close within 2, feet of a MiG to get a gunshot.
Unfortunately for the pilots, the designers of the F-4 failed to realize until too late that most kills had to be made at close range: One needed to get very close to an enemy plane to make sure that it was indeed an enemy.
It almost won't cost us any gas. The IFF was an electronic device carried by MiGs as well as by Phantoms that, when interrogated correctly by a radar, sent back a unique and clearly identifiable return signal. The Tree, in essence, tricked a MiG's IFF into giving out a positive return, which, in turn, the F-4's radar could use to create a fire solution for the long-range Sparrow air-to-air missiles. This was a remarkable coup for the Air Force, but it did not completely solve the technological problems inherent in the F For all its speed, sexy gadgetry, and awesome power, the design of the F-4 had several major drawbacks.
Early models did not carry an internal gun. This meant that targets at 2, yards or closer simply could not be engaged. Beginning insome units began experimenting with the millimeter SUU gun pod, which was carried on the centerline station on the plane's belly.
The problem with this configuration is that the gun rested on a station that otherwise could carry gallons of extra fuel -- fuel that was often needed on long-range missions to the Hanoi and Haiphong areas. Additionally, the F-4 did not possess a lead computing gunsight; it relied instead on a simple iron sight. For planes flying over miles per hour in a turning, whizzing three-dimensional gun battle, getting an accurate shot was virtually impossible.
Eventually the gun troubles would be eliminated with the introduction of the internal gun in the F-4E inbut early-model F-4s continued to be used for air-to-air missions until the end of that year. Far more serious than the gun situation were the shortcomings of the Phantom's missiles. In theory, this missile's internally cooled seeker head could pick up a heat signature from a MiG more efficiently than its predecessor, the AIM In practice the missile was, as Olds succinctly put it, "a piece of shit.
On 5 June he would fire six missiles under ideal conditions; five missed and one aborted on the launch rail. All told, the 54 AIM-4s fired during Rolling Thunder generated only five kills, for a miserable 9 percent effectiveness rate. The missile's firing sequence caused most of the problems. A pilot taking a shot with an F-4 had to go through a complicated sequence of switches; moreover, once armed, the missile only had two minutes of cooling available before it went completely dead.
Because of these deficiencies, Air Force fighter pilots eventually adopted the radar-guided AIM-7E-2 Dogfight Sparrow missile in as their primary air-to-air weapon.
The Dogfight Sparrow functioned in two modes, normal and dogfight. As historian Marshall Michel explains it, "If the radar in its normal mode was like a light bulb in a room, when it locked on, the light narrowed to a flashlight beam that stayed on the target.
The AIM-7 followed the beam of the radar toward the reflection of the light off the target. Even with this improved capability, though, the fragile sparrows often malfunctioned. During Linebacker, AIM-7E-2 missiles were fired and 34 kills achieved for a kill rate of only 12 percent. With all of these shortcomings, it is no wonder that pilots who flew other aircraft often mocked the F One example of this humor can be seen in the song, "F-4 Serenade," sung by rival F pilots: I'd rather be a pimple on a syphilitic whore, Than a backseat driver on an old F I'd rather be a hair on a swollen womb, Than be a pilot in an old Phan-tomb.
I rather be a pimple on a dirty cock, Than be an F-4 jock. I'd rather be a bloody scab, Than to fly with a bent-up slab. I'd rather be a rotten bum, Than fly a plane without a gun. I'd rather be a piss in a bottle, Than fly a plane with more than one throttle.
I'd rather be a peckerless man, Than fly a bent-up garbage can. I'd rather be most anything, Than to fly with a folding wing. I'd rather give up all my cheatin' Than to fly a plane with a rotten beacon. How much lower can you stoop Than want to fly a droop? We don't know how they stay alive, Flying something heavier than a Just remember, you phantom flyer You have twice the chance for fire.
We got one engine, you got two, As a word of parting, fuck you! While many of the problems mentioned eventually got fixed, the song does point out some of the Phantom's most glaring defects, namely its lack of a gun, its complicated controls, its folded wing, and its size and weight. The sexual language of the song is not just another crude rant. When pilots talk about "strapping on" a plane with a long pointy nose, a shark's-mouth paint job, and enough missiles to shoot down a small squadron, they are doing something more than flying a combat mission.
Firing a missile up another aircraft's tailpipe can mimic the procreative act and can consume a pilot in just the same way. The F-4C even came equipped with its very own penis -- a protrusion under the nose called the "donkey's dick," which housed its cameras. This "pecker," however, didn't necessarily make the F-4's gender male. Most heterosexual pilots viewed their planes as female.
Robin Olds, in an essay entitled "She's a Lady," described the plane as a female bird. Her back looks humped and her wing tips splay upward. Sitting there, she is not a thing of beauty. But she is my F-4, and her nest is a steel revetment -- her eggs MK pound bombs. I met you many years ago, You were quite young then Known around the world, Your name instilled fear, respect To all those who knew. Together we've fought many battles, Many places, many times.
We showed them what we can do. I touched your skin, your soul, felt your heart pound, I saw you ease, fearless, into the beckoning blue. I watched when you returned, sometimes I cried. Each time one of you was lost, Part of me also died. Grey, I am now, you too. Our prime has past, many teens anew.
AIM 9s and 88s adorned your wings, I remember those times we flew. We won't quit, Tomorrow brings something new, Always another mission, a unique task, For us old farts to do! To Clinton, the F-4 was more like an old girlfriend than a farm hen.
It was something he could caress and enjoy in human terms. Ernest Hemingway had earlier put it this way: During the week he functions as a button-down, strait-laced professional, but on weekends he breaks out of this mold and indulges in big stereos, flashy clothes, cologne, and most important, fast cars.
Assignment to Thailand to fly the F-4 represented the ultimate long weekend for an American male officer in the s; a time when he could shed his blue uniform, put on a flight suit studded with colorful patches, and fly the meanest, grooviest plane in the world. McDonnell-Douglas could not have invented a better vehicle for the Playboy rebel. One Marine unit went so far as to call themselves the "Playboys" and paint the bunny icon on their aircraft.
Esquire, the upscale men's magazine, even did a color-pictorial piece on the F-4 appropriately entitled "Hotshot Charlie Rides Again. If the foot-long F-4, with its 14,pound payload of missiles, bombs, and fuel, represents the apogee of late s American male culture, the relatively diminutive MiGs flown by the North Vietnamese can be seen as a reflection of a society with different imperatives. The North Vietnamese aircraft were cheap, rugged, maneuverable, and low-tech; in short, perfectly suited for a guerrilla war against a more advanced foe.
Furthermore, when employed correctly these fighters could often defeat state-of-the-art American technology such as the F The MiG, North Vietnam's workhorse fighter during Rolling Thunder, could not fly above the speed of sound, nor did it generally carry air-to-air missiles or an advanced radar system.
Instead, it relied on the same armament that the Korean War MiG carried: Nevertheless, as a dogfighter, the agile MiG proved to be an impressive adversary for the F As an aircraft turns, gravitational forces make it heavier and slow it down -- the heavier the plane, the more it is slowed.
As result, a MiG could gradually gain a maneuverability advantage over the F-4 if it could lure the big American jet into a traditional dogfight encounter as opposed to a long-range missile engagement.
Excerpts from John Darrell Sherwood
Like its older cousin the more advanced North Vietnamese fighter of the war, the MiG, often relied on mm cannon to kill other aircraft. But these newer planes rarely engaged in dogfights like the Migs did. He was the eldest of four siblings. Early generations lived in ConnecticutMassachusettsand Vermont before moving to Ohio in Another paternal branch descending from the original emigrant included the automotive pioneer Ransom E. Robin Olds , born inand Stevan, born in His third marriage, in to Helen Sterling, also resulted in two sons, Sterling "Dusty" inand Frederick, They separated in and were divorced in His outspokenness resulted in several public rebukes, notably during the Mitchell court martial, and in flaps regarding "imprudent comments" he allegedly made during his goodwill trip to Argentina in  and a congressional junket to Alaska in He could grasp instantly, vexing details which usually make up difficult problems and, grasping them, he had the priceless ability to make a decision.
He did not mull over what to do—having studied the problem, having arrived at a decision, he made it at once. After intense problems he would relax by playing squash or by doing aerobatics in a P-1 Hawk maintained at the base. When the gatherings included his neighbor, Lt. Carl Spaatz ,[n 3] his son fondly noted, they often ended with singing accompanied by Olds on the piano and Spaatz on the guitar.
Tunnera subordinate at Air Corps Ferrying Command in He was often in pain but not crippled by the affliction. Tunner went on to describe Olds: He had energy to burn, on and off the job. He loved high living, and he loved women, too, for that matter; he'd been married four times by that time. He drove himself furiously and within a year he was a major general. Within another year he was dead. He'd given all he had. The next day the squadron entrained for Toronto, OntarioCanada, where they arrived August 4 to begin unit training with the Royal Flying Corps.
After three weeks of recruit instruction at Leaside Aerodromepersonnel of the 17th were distributed to various locations for specialized training, while Olds and the squadron headquarters were located at Camp BordenOntario.
Olds remained squadron commander until October 15, when he became a flying instructor at Scott FieldIllinois. He was promoted to captain on September 3, , and sent to France. Olds was assigned to pursuit training at the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center at Issoudun on September On January 14,during demobilization of the American Expeditionary ForceOlds was assigned to the staff of Col.
He returned to Washington, D. Air Service commanders in Hawaii submitted three letters of recommendation on his behalf, he passed the requisite qualifying examinations, and on July 1,when the law took effect, Olds received commissions as 1st lieutenant and captain of Air Service of the Regular Army.
He became its commander from April 12, to May 20,and again now the 5th Composite Group from November 10,to April 13, Although mocked and questioned with sarcastic hostility during cross-examination by the nine ground forces generals comprising the panel, Olds "held his own".
Olds continued his staff duties in the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps. In September he was assigned to Langley Field, where he would spend eleven of the next thirteen years.
He became a student in the eighth class of the Air Corps Tactical School. Among his 23 classmates were Majors Frank M. AndrewsGeorge H.