Fly High and Fast – Vol. I: Chapter 1 – Introduction
Flying has been a love of mine since I was a young boy. Some of my first hero’s were Douglas Bader, Chuck Yeager and The Flying Tigers.
In 1928, Bader joined the RAF, but, on 14 December 1931 at Woodley airfield near Reading, lost both of his legs in an aircraft crash attempting a slow roll at very low level following jibes about his not wanting to perform aerobatics that day. Bader recovered, undertook refresher training, passed his check flights, and attempted to stay in the RAF but was retired for medical reasons on 30 April 1933. After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he re-entered the armed forces and requested that he be assigned to the RAF. Posted to a fighter squadron in 1940 Bader scored his first kills during the Battle of France, over Dunkirk.
During the Battle of Britain Bader became a friend and supporter of Trafford Leigh-Mallory and his “Big Wing” experiments, which led him into conflict with Air Vice Marshal Keith Park. In 1941 Bader participated in fighter sweeps over Europe as the RAF adopted a more offensive stance, but in August 1941 he was forced to bail out over German-occupied France, was captured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. While a POW, Bader made as much trouble as possible, escaping in August 1942, only to be recaptured and sent to Colditz Castle, the camp for POWs who made repeated escape attempts. He also met and befriended Adolf Galland, a prominent German Ace, during his imprisonment. Liberated in April 1945, he requested a return to action but that request was denied. Douglas Bader ended the conflict with 22 aerial victories scored in the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, and left the RAF for good in February 1946.
Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager (born February 13, 1923) is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He is widely considered to be the first pilot to travel faster than sound (1947). Originally retiring as a brigadier general, Yeager was promoted to major general on the Air Force’s retired list 20 years later for his military achievements.
His career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes. Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). Although Scott Crossfield was the first man to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter exceeded Mach 2.4. He later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager’s flying career spans more than sixty years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, even into the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
During the dark, early days of World War II, when the Imperial Japanese army, navy, and air force were running roughshod over Asia and the Pacific, it seemed that nothing could stop them. Only a small band of American mercenary fliers based in Burma and known as the Flying Tigers, led by a leather-faced fighter named Claire Chennault, seemed able to challenge and defeat the Japanese . . .”
William (Bill) Reed was one of the initial volunteers in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) that would become known as the Flying Tigers. The Flying Tigers were stationed in China and Burma between September 1941 and July 4th, 1942. He later served in the 14th Army Air Force under Claire Chennault in the China-Burma-India Theater (C-B-I) as the Flight Leader of 7th Fighter Squadron and later the Commander of the 3rd Fighter Group. During the time that Lt. Colonel William (Bill) Reed served in China between September 1941 and December 1944 – – he was officially credited with 9.0* aerial victories and 8.0* aircraft destroyed on the ground. While serving with the American Volunteer Group (AVG) Bill flew seventy-five missions and had 3.0* aerial victories and was credited with destroying eight enemy aircraft on the ground (March 18, 1942), plus other “probables.” From September of 1943 to December of 1944 – Bill would be credited with an additional 6.0 aerial kills while flying with the 14th Army Air Force, which made Bill an “ACE “. The Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame states that during World War II —
In the months ahead, I plan to share with you some of my personal experiences while flying with the hope that you will find them entertaining and maybe educational. This Blog will be called “Flying High and Fast”. This is also my hope for all of you – Safety. “Flying High and Fast” means having a safe journey while flying or in life in general. If you are “Flying High and Fast” there is very little chance that you will hit something or experience what is called a “Stall” which means that your airplane does not have enough speed to keep it in the air. I hope all of you have a safe journey through life – “Fly High and Fast”.
I’ll close this first blog with a video of the ultimate aircraft to “Fly High and Fast”
Please visit my “FLY HIGH AND FAST” WEB Site for more blogs on flying.
Written by jjmeehan13
January 2, 2010 at 6:37 am
Posted in Flying