Reading List (Update):  a Fighter Jock

[June 7, 2021]  A good friend of mine – a retired USAF officer – has supplied me with several books over the past few months.  He certainly has a way of picking some darn good ones.  An inspiring book on Gen. Curtis LeMay, “Strategies and Tactician,” is one I appreciated, for it showed that anyone could achieve the pinnacle of success without privilege or pedigree.  The U.S. Air Force became a reality in 1947 when President Truman signed the National Security Act, creating a new national defense organization.  Since its inception in aviation, the U.S. military grew to appreciate aviation’s strategic and tactical importance.  And, it took no time at all for those who flew the skies to become a special hero to those of us who looked up at their gleaming aircraft.  The term Fighter Jock came into play as a stereotype of those pilots who walked with a swagger, got all the pretty girls, and bravely took on the enemy head to head.  Today, the “fighter jock culture” days may be numbered as we move into a century where Artificial Intelligence might pilot all future aircraft.

Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds, Christina Olds and Ed Rasimus, 2010.

Robin Olds was the classic fighter jock.  Growing up with his family at air bases and seeing firsthand the most famous fighter aces of World War I, Robin became enamored with flying as a fighter pilot from an early age.  This book rivets us with tales from boyhood to West Point (where Robin would earn his commission) to becoming a double ace in WW2 and finally to Vietnam.  In the press, Robin Olds was a dashing flying hero who married a glamorous movie star.  For those who served with him, he was a great leader.  His daughter Christina and fighter jockey Ed come together and collect the various notes, photographs, articles, and eye-witness accounts to write a good reading effort on one of America’s greatest heroes.

From the book’s title, one may expect to read about combat engagements, but it is much more.  We learn about Robin’s tremendous sense of loyalty.  When his best friend Scat Davis washed out of flight school because of poor eyesight, Robin would take Scat to combat by naming each of his planes “Scat.” We get insights into what was happening in the Army Air Corps and the USAF during war and peace.  We also learn that Robin Olds was the old-fashioned type of leader who cares for his men and leads from the front.  We get to experience what authentic leadership is about, what’s right and wrong with the USAF, and what happens in war.  Furthermore, we get a glimpse into the thinking of a colorful officer who did good regardless of what he had to work with.  Leadership is many things, but one that Robin possessed was the ability to look ahead to win the next war.

In a review by David Forsmark, he notes that “Olds was a maverick who was impatient with bureaucracy, especially if it kept him out of the air or got between him and the enemy.” Robin never finished his memoirs before his death in 2007.  His daughter and an F-105 pilot did it for him.  Regardless, the book’s unique perspective offers a breath of fresh air, and you can hear his voice on every page.

This book is highly recommended.

To go to the complete Professional Reading list, click on this direct link:

Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog.  His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here:

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

15 thoughts on “Reading List (Update):  a Fighter Jock

  1. Greg Heyman

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to find this book and read it. From the reviews and what I see here in Gen. Satterfield’s article, it surely is a book where I can enjoy and learn as well.

  2. Honey Flower Betsy

    If you want to learn about the life of a true American hero, then read this book. But also, just to be sure you are on track, pay close attention on his exploits BEFORE he was at West Point. There is not much on his early life but you can tell that he was a highly energetic young man before. Gen. Satterfield has noted before than having “energy” or maybe we call it motivation is one of the traits of a leader.

  3. Tony B. Custer

    Simple, read the book. You will enjoy every page.

    1. Eddie Ray Anderson, Jr.

      Thanks for the thumbs up on it. I was one of those who just like to read about the bravery of soldiers on the battlefield but their are also those overhead in aircraft and on the water as well that might just deserve my attention.

  4. Yusaf from Texas

    Highly recommended. I couldn’t have said it better. I read the book a couple of years ago. I picked it up on the reduced-price bin in JFK airport. I also read the whole thing while on American Airlines (which I won’t fly anymore because they are ‘woke’). Thanks for a great review.

  5. Pooch T.

    Another great review. Tell you Air Force friend thanks for us as well.

    1. Kenny Foster

      Ha Ha. I think he already has thanked him. That is the Gen. Satterfield way of leadership – always acknowledge the contribution of those on your team.

  6. Pink Cloud

    Gen. Satterfield, I see that you have also introduced a book reviewer into your long-running series of book reviews (toward the end of your article). This is a good thing. It gives me a reference to read more reviews. Sometimes those who summarize a book can give me ideas, as well, to think about.

  7. Steve Dade

    Looks like a great book to read in my spare time. I’m not Air Force fighter jocker but looks like I might just like this book. A welcome departure for me as I usually read fictional accounts of WW2.

    1. Big Al

      I look forward to it as well. I wonder why I never heard of the book before. Maybe I’m just out of it but I like to read about World War II and yet I haven’t run across this book before. Yes, I admit that there are hundreds of books on the war but seriously? I am ordering it today but not from Amazon. I’m boycotting Amazon and along with my friends, plan to never order from them again.

      1. Max Foster

        I’m with you Big Al. BOYCOTT AMAZON. They are the new ‘book burners’ of the 21st century. In the future when those who live there look back, they will lump Amazon next to the Nazi and Communist regimes of the 20th century together for what they did to destroy freedom.

        1. JT Patterson

          A bit off topic Max but you were “over the target” and bombed the hell out of it. 👍

        2. Forrest Gump

          Well said, Max. Great! I will never buy from them again. What is so clueless about their CEO? STupid is as STupid does!!!

    2. Jeff Blackwater

      Same here, Steve. I’ll be getting my copy to read from my library (only 2 miles from my house). No need to buy it at all.


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