Every pilot knew the NVA was building radar-guided SAM missile sites, but Washington prohibited any strikes until the death rockets were up and blowing American fliers to pieces. At the Gunfighter's Club in Saigon, the cold beer, blaring rock 'n' roll, and bare-assed girls can't wash away the bitterness, and Air Force Major William Taylor knows that something has to be done fast.
American firepower could deliver pure destruction in Charlie's lap, but someone had to find him. That's where the daredevil pilots of the single-engine Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog recon planes made their mark in Vietnam. Flying unarmed into the enemy's front yard, the Bird Dog pilots shot flares down on Charlie and spotted him for destruction. And every once in a while these hardened flyers took their antiquated prop planes even farther into the heat.
From the thundering B-52 bombing raids on Hanoi to inserting search-and-destroys in the jungle, from wielding a death-spewing Spooky to taking out SAM missile sights in the North, the skies above Vietnam were a hell of deadly million-dollar machinery, split-second decisions, and death-lock engagements with the enemy. Now 19-year-old David Anderson is a raw pilot in an Assault Helicopter Company, slamming straight into the strength of the VC.
Just as the first wave of flying saucer sightings ended in the summer of 1947, the military began a project to investigate those reports. For 22 years, the Air Force attempted to learn what it could about the phenomena they called UFOs. During those years, they investigated more than 12,000 sightings including landings, occupant reports, photographs, radar cases, and intercepts by military jet fighters. In many instances plausible explanations were advanced, but nearly 1,000 sightings were marked as unidentified.
Navy lieutenants David Kincaid and Douglas Bakker honed their flying skills over the Nevada desert. Assigned to a carrier on the South China Sea, they soared through South Vietnam's skies, whetting their appetites for the real thing: a dogfight in the North. But on their first ride over the DMZ the two hotshot flyers found out that an undertrained, underfed North Vietnamese pilot can kill like a top gun in the cockpit of a MiG.
They brought death and destruction to the north - and every mission could be their last. Washington wanted a safe war, where no American died and the enemy was pounded into submission. In Guam and Thailand a handful of men were chosen to fight that kind of war. The operation was Linebacker, and the mission was to use the big, bomb-ladened B-52s to strike terror deep behind the DMZ.