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Publisher's Summary

In Turn and Burn the author takes the readers with him in the cockpit as he shares the fulfillment of his boyhood dream and some of his most memorable adventures and misadventures during a 24-year flying career as a fighter pilot, both in combat and peacetime. Share the author’s emotions when being surrounded by enemy anti-aircraft flak, when having to crash land twice, during occasions when the aircraft’s response was violent and uncontrollable, when having a large turkey buzzard crash through the windscreen into the cockpit when the aircraft was 200 feet off the ground and traveling nearly 600 mph, just to mention a few of those memorable occasions the author shares. 

Along the way, the listeners are given vivid accounts of the joys and delights, the fears and terrors, the frustrations and fulfillments, the thrills, intensity, and humor involved in the fighter pilot’s unique life, and the special and inseparable bond that exists in the fighter pilot community. The author’s account is also deeply personal as he shares his opinion of the top leadership, both civilian and military, during the Vietnam War. His criticism is shared by the vast majority of those who fought in that war, and includes the leadership’s lack of understanding of the enemy, a prime requisite when going to war, their lack of will to do what was necessary to win, a prime requisite when going to war, and worst of all, their unconscionable willingness to allow the US military to suffer substantial losses in personnel and resources by fighting a war they were not allowed to win. 

The author’s pride in being part of the fighter pilot community can be summed up by the final phrase of a poem about military aviators written by an unknown author that goes, “Because we flew, we envy no man on earth."

About the author: 

Darrell Ahrens is a former US Marine, Air Force fighter pilot and operations staff officer, high school teacher, and pastor. He holds degrees from Chapman University, Boston University, and Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as diplomas from the Armed Forces Staff College, the Air War College, and the National Defense University. He and his wife Louise and her mother live in the Southwest, joined by their three-legged cat Masio.

©2020 Darrell J. Ahrens (P)2021 Darrell J. Ahrens

What listeners say about Turn and Burn

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Absolutely Fantastic

I am an aviation buff, and this book was right up my alley.

Ahrens' memoirs are quite well done. His purpose in writing was to record all the great stories he thought his grandchildren and great-grandchildren may want to know after he's gone. That perspective hit home for me, because I know I wish I'd had heard a lot more of my own grandfather's stories of when he served in WWII aboard B-17s in Europe. Ahrens focuses on the parts most readers would find interesting. I'd estimate that about 40% of the book is combat flight stories, and all the rest is about his long career as a fighter pilot, with only a bit of childhood raising toward the beginning. The combat stories are interspersed throughout the book to spread out the most exciting parts, and the rest of the narrative is presented chronologically. Again, he hits the high points, and I was never bored. I was quite entertained, and I have to say I learned a lot about the planes he flew (I think it was the RF84-F, F-100, F-102, F-105, and F-4. I was also fascinated by the two jet trainers he described. I was already familiar with the T-38 because of it's use by NASA, but I had never heard of the "baby jet" T-37 that Ahrens began his training on, and I looked it up later. A really cool little trainer jet with side-by-side seating.

Ahrens is a committed Christian, and mentions that here and there throughout the book, but I didn't think he was pushy about it (disclaimer: I'm also a committed Christian). He discusses his thoughts on what went wrong in the Vietnam war, and what the government could have done to win it quickly and decisively. I'm sure some people will disagree with his conclusions, but I value hearing his perspective as a front-line fighter pilot directly participating in the war. Toward the end of the book, he goes into his thoughts on how American foreign policy has gone wrong, and how things could be done better.

The narrator was great. He spoke very clearly and the audio production values were pretty good. The great thing about listening on Audible is the ability to speed up or slow down any audiobook to listen at your desired pace. I usually listen to books at 1.1x or 1.2x but I thought this book was just right at normal speed, YMMV.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I'd recommend the book to anyone who is interested in aviation, especially fighter jets, or who enjoys accounts of the Vietnam war. I'm glad I was able to listen to this.

Disclaimer: This audiobook was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review. I have done my best to keep this review completely unbiased.

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Oh! I Have Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth

I was given this free review copy audio-book at my request and have voluntarily left this review. This review is for the audio copy of Turn and Burn-A Fighter Pilot’s Memories and Confessions by Darrell J. Ahrens and narrated by Eric Jason Martin. This story struck a chord with me. I had always wanted to be a fighter pilot. I had WW2 model airplanes all painted in camo with squadron designators and battle damage inflicted on them. They were all hanging from my bedroom ceiling. I ended up in the Navy on submarines, go figure. Anyway, this was a great story for me. I liked the layout and the way the author developed the story, interspersing his training and career path with tales of his flights and experiences. The narration was perfect for this story. I highly recommend this book.

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"I never claimed to have the market on smarts."

This is the accounting of Lt.Colonel Darell 'Curly' J.Ahrens' life as a fighter pilote, from his youthful love of military figures and his intensive reading about World War II, through a period in the Marines, marriage and family (very brief), and the trainings, 'planes and flying experiences, both civic and wartime. His love of flying comes through very strongly and there are passages which read as exciting as any action thriller.
Straightforwardly written, the author interspersed his life story with personal experiences which in part illustrate his thoughts at the time but, more importantly, break up the linear account with anecdotes which are exciting, amusing or both, keeping the reader's attention focused. Altogether, he comes over as the dashing, rule breaking, devil may care, charming but superior pilot of war story fame, and one who carries his belief in God with him. There are some aspects I personally find a little incongruous, like confining all mention of his wife and children to a single, short chapter. Why include them at all as they are obviously not really part of this story? Or why not give mention of them in an introduction or epilogue?
Eric Jason Martin is the narrator of Turn and Burn and he performs with lerfection, his very pleasant to hear voice well paced and modulated. He reads all with a hint of wry humour and is easily identifiable as his first person counterpart.

My thanks to the rights holder of Turn and Burn, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy via Audiobook Boom. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. And as a personal memoir to leave for future family generations, the author's stated intent, he has more than succeeded - he has brought that fragment of his life alive.

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  • Norma Miles
  • 04-15-21

"I never claimed to have the market on smarts"

This is the accounting of Lt.Colonel Darell 'Curly' J.Ahrens' life as a fighter pilote, from his youthful love of military figures and his intensive reading about World War II, through a period in the Marines, marriage and family (very brief), and the trainings, 'planes and flying experiences, both civic and wartime. His love of flying comes through very strongly and there are passages which read as exciting as any action thriller.
Straightforwardly written, the author interspersed his life story with personal experiences which in part illustrate his thoughts at the time but, more importantly, break up the linear account with anecdotes which are exciting, amusing or both, keeping the reader's attention focused. Altogether, he comes over as the dashing, rule breaking, devil may care, charming but superior pilot of war story fame, and one who carries his belief in God with him. There are some aspects I personally find a little incongruous, like confining all mention of his wife and children to a single, short chapter. Why include them at all as they are obviously not really part of this story? Or why not give mention of them in an introduction or epilogue?
Eric Jason Martin is the narrator of Turn and Burn and he performs with lerfection, his very pleasant to hear voice well paced and modulated. He reads all with a hint of wry humour and is easily identifiable as his first person counterpart.

My thanks to the rights holder of Turn and Burn, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy via Audiobook Boom. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. And as a personal memoir to leave for future family generations, the author's stated intent, he has more than succeeded - he has brought that fragment of his life alive.