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Synopsis

SPITFIRE WINGMAN is the whole-life memoir of USAF Col. Jim Haun, who flew nearly every US military aircraft from 1939 to 1965, including fighters, bombers, giant cargo ships, and the T-33 jet trainer. He flew Spitfires over England and France, commanded a squadron through the Berlin Airlift, was CO of th Presidential Air Fleet in Washington D.C., and became Chief Pilot of the Military Air Transport Service. As the memoir of an aerobatic master born to fling his body through cloudbanks, Spitfire Wingman from Tennessee offers a unique birds-eye view of events and personalities of WWII and the Cold War. Encounters with Patton, Vandenberg, Yeager, Truman and Nixon are replayed with perception and tongue-in-cheek wit. While jockeying P-40s, P-51s, and P-47s, he was privileged to see the war both from twenty thousand feet and as a Staff Officer at 9th Air Force HQ in Brussels. A stripped-down Thunderbolt fighter-bomber became his personal 400-mph runabout. Jim Haun took life at a run. After his mother’s death just before his ninth birthday, he worked in turn as Western Union bicycle messenger for fifteen dollars a week and work-a-way galley helper on an aging Atlantic freighter. Then, as the Memphis ‘Boy Wonder’ who built his first airplane in 1933 by adapting a motorcycle engine, the Colonel bears nostalgic witness to historic transformations steering manned flight from art toward automated science. This gifted flyer takes you on an intimate journey from barnstormer to dog-fighter, to threading the Himalayan ‘Hump’, to Berlin Airlift commander, then on to Presidential Squadron leader – finally becoming Chief Pilot of MATS. Balancing dry humor with just enough technical detail to please aviation buffs, this self-revealing air-venture thunders on twelve cylinders with sky-sweeping appeal. After retirement from the Air Force in 1965, Haun spent thirty more years as beloved flight instructor, participating in air shows, and building a biplane in his garage. He died peacefully at home attended by his two sons in 2001, six months before his 90th birthday.

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