As the memoir of an aerobatic master born to fling his body through cloudbanks, Spitfire Wingman from Tennessee offers a unique birds-eye view of events and personalities of WWII and the Cold War. Encounters with Patton, Vandenberg, Yeager, Truman and Nixon are replayed with perception and wit. While jockeying P-40s, P-51s, and P-47s, he was privileged to see the war both from twenty thousand feet and as a Staff Officer at 9th Air Force HQ in Brussels. A stripped-down Thunderbolt fighter-bomber became his personal 400-mph runabout. Jim Haun took life at a run. After his mother’s death just before his ninth birthday, he worked in turn as Western Union bicycle messenger for fifteen dollars a week and work-a-way galley helper on an aging Atlantic freighter. Then, as the Memphis ‘Boy Wonder’ who built his first airplane in 1933 by adapting a motorcycle engine, the Colonel bears nostalgic witness to historic transformations steering manned flight from art toward automated science. This gifted flyer takes you on an intimate journey from barnstormer to dog-fighter, to threading the Himalayan ‘Hump’, to Berlin Airlift commander, then on to Presidential Squadron leader – finally becoming Chief Pilot of MATS. Balancing dry humor with just enough technical detail to please aviation buffs, this self-revealing air-venture thunders on twelve cylinders with sky-sweeping appeal. After retirement from the Air Force in 1965, Haun spent thirty more years as beloved flight instructor, participating in air shows, and building a biplane in his garage. He died peacefully at home attended by his two sons in 2001, six months before his 90th birthday.
Interesting story told by the man himself. He sure loved to fly. You just can't miss that in the story. You may want to google all the various planes he flew over the years. You also get the sense how much he longed to be a fighter pilot on operations. Author had a long career with the Air Force and was a bit of character. Interesting little story,
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Good story and great individual. Unfortunately, author in his 86th year reading into a hand held tape recorder.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Spitfire Wingman from Tennessee the most enjoyable?
Listening to the author tell his life story in his own voice is what made the listening experience unforgetable. The Colonel lived and breathed aviation from the early days before regulations or the FAA through the modern aircraft of today. He was an excellent story teller and remembers details that most people couldn't recall even a year or two later. Hearing his story in his own "whisky scared" voice makes this book an epic tale. I finished listening to it and immediately started it over. It is truly that good.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The author and narrator Colonel James R. Haun. I feel like I know him after listening. His stories of flying some of the very first commercial aircraft, WWII, the Berlin Airlift, and being on the presidential wing are amazing. I also feel like his stories are honest accounts without the embellishments that litter other similar autobiographies. He never aimed to impress and in doing so has impressed me greatly.
What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
As said above the narrator is the author and something about hearing the story direclty from the horse's mouth is what makes this book better than all the others. The Colonel recorded this himself in his living room and the quality has its ups and downs but this just adds to the character of the book. Some listeners may have trouble understanding him but since I am from Tennessee I had no problem understanding this southern gentleman's draw.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
The Colonel's tales made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions. Memorable moments are his description of his plan to bail out over the English channel, his description of the first plane he flew with an ejection seat, and he and his wife's visit to the hospital for physicals come to mind.
Any additional comments?
If you are a history buff or are even remotely interested in aviation this is a must listen book.
What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?
The colonel was hard to listen at first, but you soon became accustomed to his accent. It wa s a great story and I really enjoyed it until the last chapter. I take great offence at having a religous sermon jammed down my kneck when I paid for a flying story. I shut it off so I didn't have to listen to the crap. It wrecked a good listen.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
This recording is a great account of life during WWII era. It can be hard to follow for someone from the UK because of Mr Haun's thick Southern states accent but it's worth persevering and being patient with!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful