Flying Tigers


Three-quarters of a century after Claire Chennault set out to create the American Volunteer Group, new stuff keeps emerging about the men who became the Flying Tigers. The latest is Susan Jimison's Through the Eyes of a Tiger, featuring the letters of John Donovan, who died in the fiery crash of his P-40E "Kittyhawk" at the Japanese airfield outside Hanoi. Donovan was a remarkably sensitive and perceptive man with an interesting life story that few of us knew anything about. The book is a must-have memoir for admirers of the AVG, ranking up there with R.T. Smith's Tale of a Tiger and Charlie Bond's A Flying Tiger's Diary. Read more here.

In the fall of 1941, Olga Greenlaw's role in the American Volunteer Group was the informal one of den mother to the pilots training at Kyedaw Airfield in Toungoo. Still, she got an ID card when Chennault had them issued to the men. When Olga died, that card and another one — showing her membership in the newly formed Flying Tigers Association, probably in 1942 — were acquired and framed by her sister, Beatriz Priest. A friend had the happy inspiration to snap a photo of the set, and her son was kind enough to send it along to me. See them here.

I've posted a fifth installment of pilot biographies, from John Petach to Evander Shapard. See them here. I'll be adding to this each month until I've exhausted the supply, which thanks to the flight instructors actually comes to 110. Their stories, are told in 100 Fair Pilots: The Men Who Became the Flying Tigers, a $2.99 e-book from Amazon stores worldwide and most other e-tailers. I'll be updating the text as new information comes in, as it regularly does.

Books! Oh my goodness, as Donald Rumsfeld was fond of saying, what a month this has been for books. I especially enjoyed the much-hyped Dead Wake, a very good account of the Lusitania's fatal track through the Irish Sea, where the great liner crossed paths with the submarine U-20. But the book that really blew me away was Timothy Snyder's superlative Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. It's an important book and deserves to be read, though the final chapter is a bit marred by the author's speculation that climate change might lead to the next Holocaust. Really? Go here for more about these titles.

Nor was that the end of my September reading. Yale University Press has published the second volume in its new edition of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. My dopplegänger Stephen Fall has more to say about that on Reading Proust website.

And, finally, one of my favorite books of all time, Rinker Buck's Flight of Passage, may make it to the big screen if a pilot film succeeds. Go to the Piper Cub Forum for more about that. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
The Spadguys Speak (carrying a nuke to Sevastopol)
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more:

Book(s) of the month
Reviews of worthwhile military+aviation titles
The Piper Cub Forum

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Poland's Daughter

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Posted October 2015. Websites © 1997-2015 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.