Fighter Pilot (Review)

Fighter Pilot (Review)

s mentioned in my Dog Ear piece, I needed a break from modern arty storytelling. I’ve had Fighter Pilot on my shelf for a decade and never read it (I don’t even know where it came from). Anyway, it’s the story of the first American ace in World War Two, William Dunn. All in all, it’s a roiling tale of a guy who joined the army to try to be a pilot in the thirties, and got put in the infantry. Then he joined the Canadians and still got put into the infantry. About all the air action he got was banging at Stukas when a ground gunner got beheaded by a bomb fragment. And finally he got his chance, coming online just after the conclusion of the Battle of Britain.

It’s quite interesting, his remembrances of the war. In places, it’s quite technical, describing the planes he flew and the missions he survived. As a pilot, I really enjoyed the descriptions of what it was like to fly these high-performance birds (namely the Hurricane, the Spitfire and later the Thunderbolt). Eventually he racked up five kills and go the recognition of being the first American ace.

Overall, Dunn is opinionated and (seemingly) brutally honest with things he sees (from WW2 up through the Vietnam war). He’s open about his various relationships (including a failed marriage). And unlike Infinite Jest, I found myself scooping it back up with I had a free minute. His descriptions of his combats are detailed yet do not bog down. All in all, an enjoyable read.

I’m not sure if I’d agree to some of his assessments of the Luftwaffe (given some of the other things I’ve read) but then again, I’m getting all my information second-hand so what do I truly know?

Anyway, worth a read (if you can find it, since it was originally printed in 1975). Great story of a man flying planes I’d be a little nervous to slip on. But good for him, for repeatedly joining up for his chance to fly against the Axis.