Fifty-two men and women who made America's air power the most respected in the world are profiled in this award-winning series. The series features exclusive interviews with Legends such as Chuck Yeager, Jim Lovell, Buzz Aldrin, and Paul Tibbetts. Spanning the first century of flight, Legends of Airpower effortlessly relates the life and times of these heroes.
He grew up fascinated by rockets, but his family couldn't afford to send him to the elite schools that taught rocketry. Jim Lovell went instead to the Naval Academy, becoming a fighter pilot before joining the space program. Lovell became a household name when an oxygen tank on Apollo 13 exploded on the way to the moon.
On a scorching hot day in 1964, Lt. Everett Alvarez was shot down over Vietnam. He was sent to the Hanoi Hilton and would not know freedom again for almost nine years, earning the dubious honor of being the longest prisoner of war in Vietnam.
He had his first airplane ride at 12, and from then on he was hooked on flying. Paul Tibbets flew 25 missions in B-17s, including the first American Flying Fortress raid against occupied Europe. But Tibbets gained his fame-and notoriety-on August 6, 1945. On that day, the Enola Gay lifted off North Field with Tibbets and his crew en route to Hiroshima.
In 1919 Igor Sikorsky landed on these shores from Russia dreaming of a career in aviation. His determination and faith in his own ability to build what many considered to be an impossible vehicle lead to the world's first practical helicopter. Because of this, the helicopter is an integral part of many difficult missions, including the saving of thousands of lives in both peace and war.
Born in Brooklyn, NY in July 1923, Donald Lopez got the unique opportunity to fly a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk with the 14th Air Force's 23rd Fighter Group, also known as The Flying Tigers, under the expert leadership of Gen. Claire Chennault, in China.
Wisconsin native Deke Slayton flew 56 combat missions in Europe during WWII, but is probably best known as one of the original Mercury 7. Though he was grounded due to a heart condition, Slayton filled a vital role well enough to fly in the early 1970s, and made his first space flight as pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission.
Triple-ace and salty-tongued Robin Olds literally wrote the book on tactical air power. The son of a major general, Olds was born for combat. His distinguished career included 107 combat missions in World War II and 152 in Vietnam, and 17 kills in each. And along with Daniel "Chappie" James, he became part of a flying duo known as "Blackman and Robin."
He was born in Pensacola, FL, and spread his wings at the prestigious Tuskegee Institute. A gifted pilot, "Chappie" James flew 101 missions in Korea and 78 in Vietnam; in addition, he also single-handedly prevented an attack from Muammar Qadaffi in Libya, and rose above racism to become the first African-American four-star general.
Born to a father rumored to have had ties to Al Capone and the mob, "Butch" O'Hare was a Navy pilot whose name marks one of the world's busiest airports. He graduated the Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1937 and had amassed much experience as a fighter pilot when he got involved in World War II.
A prisoner of war in Vietnam for over six years, Sam Johnson nevertheless was able to rise from his desperate situation to become a Texas congressman. This Legend served his country for over 50 years, flying F-86 Sabre jets in Korea and the F-4 Phantom II in Vietnam. After his release in 1973, Johnson stayed in the Air Force until his retirement in 1979.
He was born in 1915 to a Norwegian-Scots family in South Dakota. Though he grew up poor, Joe Foss was able to scrape together $65 for flying lessons, and from then on he was hooked. After joining the Marines, Foss fought in WWII, racked up 26 aerial victories, and was awarded the Medal of Honor.
America's number two all-time ace, behind his good friend and rival Richard Bong, Thomas McGuire was born in Ridgewood, NJ in 1920. Although he only flew two years of combat in World War II, he was awarded America's highest awards, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, 6 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Silver Stars, 3 Purple Hearts, and 14 Air Medals.
He was born in the small town of Waterproof, LA, but from an early age Claire Chennault thought big. He launched the theory of "defensive pursuit," and practiced what he preached as a leader of the Flying Tigers in China. A chain-smoking, hard-living man, Chennault seemed to come from another generation, but was beloved by all-even the notorious Chinese leader Chaing-kai Shek.
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Legends of Airpower is an excellent series featuring real heroes I would recommend this series to anyone who has an interest in the history of wars America participated and the heroes that came out of them.