Book Review


Flying, Spying & Surviving

By William P. Lear, Jr.
Addax Publishing Group
8643 Hauser Dr. suite 235
Lenexa, KS 66215

Bill Lear, Jr. is, of course, the son of one of the most influential aviation figures in the 20th Century. He's also a member of the Sabre Pilots Association. This is his autobiography, and he's 'let it all hang out'. Much of his life can be described as 'truth can be stranger than fiction', and just a few gems from his book will illustrate this point.

Before he entered Air Force pilot training in October 1948, he'd already flown a P-38 in two Bendix Trophy races. (Yes, you read that correctly!) There's a story going around that Bill flew his own P-38 into Randolph Field to report for duty'. The author denies this but describes his adventures as an ex-P38 pilot with over 1,000 hours flying time in a variety of aircraft as he submits to instructional training from Air Force pilots.

Reviewer's note: Here, I must digress to report that at this point to Bill's book, I was prepared to "recuse" (popular legal term of this day) myself from doing the review as Mr. Lear names his instructors and flying mentors at Randolph, and wittingly or not, passes judgment on their instructional and human qualities. Since your reviewer had the same instructors in Class 50C a few months after Bill Lear, I suspected we might not agree on some points. Happily, I believe that we agree that these gentlemen represented the finest flight instructors of that or any time.

Although he was in (and out) of the Air Force most of his life, Bill Lear simply loved to fly. And fly he did an extraordinary mix of air machines. He never quite adjusted to the military life-style, but accepted its requirements (to a degree) in order to fly its great jet fighters. His entire life is a series of adventures too unbelievable for a Hollywood movie. And his autobiography reads like a who's-who of flying. You'll encounter famous persons, learn more than you want to know about Lear's personal life, marvel at his many, I mean MANY- near death experiences, and come away from his book feeling that you've met a very special man 'who did it his way'. Apologies to Frank Sinatra.

Highly recommended

review by Lon Walter

No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.

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