Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

My mother used to enjoy telling people that my first word was "airplane" (said as "o-pane") when a P-38 flew over the park we were in there in Denver, Colorado, where I grew up. My enjoyment of airplanes was also the result of my father's influence. He had worked for Roscoe Turner and met such luminaries as Ernst Udet and Jimmy Doolittle back in the 1930s. The fact my grand nephew can, at age 5, identify all the airplanes that live at the little airport across the street from his school I take as evidence that aeronuttiness is likely genetic. Having learned to read at an early age, one of my favorite childhood activities was spending a Saturday in the stacks at the main Denver public library, going through the aviation and second world war history sections and devouring everything there. I also spent three years in the Navy in naval aviation as an enlisted sailor in the years immediately prior to and during the outbreak of that waste of 58,000 American lives and God knows how many Asian lives, Vietnam. I became a pilot myself in the 1970s, and over the 40 years since have spent quite a bit of time in the air, in the airplanes of the Second World War. In that time, I have also had the privilege of meeting many of the participants in that war, and writing about them in Air Enthusiast Quarterly, Air International, Air Force, Aviation History and Flight Journal magazines. Over the past 30 years, I have been involved with the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California. At the same time, I became a produced screenwriter, and learned to see a story and tell it through the characters. I hope that has slopped over into my non-fiction writing. In my writing, I am more interested in describing who these people were than in the simple explication of what they did. As a well-known writer said, writing historical non-fiction gives a writer the power to bring the dead back to life, and that is my goal in this work.
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