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This is my story—the story of a pilot who flew airplanes for some thirty-seven years: ten years in the United States Air Force, primarily in jet fighters, and then twenty-seven years flying commercial jet airliners. I was inspired to write this story after reading the autobiography, a few years ago, of Gen. Chuck Yeager—he being the world-renowned test pilot, World War II fighter ace, and first man to break the sound barrier in the Bell X-1. My story is the story of an average pilot, an average guy who survived several close calls, had many interesting experiences along the way, and often wondered, “Am I still here because I was especially good or because I was especially lucky?” I think the answer is definitely a combination of the two, just as Yeager says or implies in his book. With him, it may have been a larger contribution of skill, but as he said, “The secret of my success is that I always managed to live to fly another day.” I have to echo that comment. While flying around the country with American Airlines, during “hours of complete boredom” (as we say), we pilots often traded our “war stories” of our flying (and other) experiences. I often thought that I had many tales that were similar to some of Yeager’s and that I should put my experiences down on paper, even if it would only be my family who might read it. So this, then, is my story, my life, primarily, as it revolved around my aviating experiences over some thirty-seven years, from the viewpoint of a pilot who has no particular claim to fame but who has survived “to fly another day.” One of the best descriptions of a flying career says: “You start out with a big bag of luck and an empty bag of experience; you want to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck!” I guess I have done that.

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