Dumb But Lucky: Confessions of a P-51 Fighter Pilot in World War II

Dumb But Lucky: Confessions of a P-51 Fighter Pilot in World War II

Paperback

By (author) Richard K. Curtis

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  • Publisher: Presidio Press
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 107mm x 173mm x 25mm | 91g
  • Publication date: 15 August 2005
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0345476360
  • ISBN 13: 9780345476364
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 8 b&w photos
  • Sales rank: 289,207

Product description

Dick Curtis went against the odds in World War II. He simply should not have made it through. An older brother was killed in a B-17 Flying Fortress and a younger brother would be killed in Korea, so just how Curtis survived as a P-51 Mustang pilot gnaws at him to this day. Shipping out to Italy in May, 1944, second lieutenant Curtis was part of the 'hottest' shipment to leave Newport News for he was one of fifty or so emergency replacement pilots heading for combat with less than thirty hours of flight time in their new high-performance aircraft (the official minimum was three hundred hours before a pilot was considered ready for combat). He would soon realize that he was entering a combat zone where there were more aircraft than pilots to man them. Pilots were flying five to six hour missions every day in a constant state of exhaustion. As one of twelve replacement pilots for the 52nd fighter group, half would be shot down within two weeks of their arrival. Ultimately, Curtis would prove to be the sole survivor. This is his dramatic story.

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Author information

Richard K. "Dick" Curtis, as a P-51 fighter pilot with the 52nd Fighter Group in Italy earned the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he earned a bachelor of Theology degree from Northern Babtist Seminary in Chicago and an MS and PhD from Purdue University. He retired from the faculty of Purdue University after twenty-four years teaching speech communication. He is the author of three previous books; They Call Him Mister Moody (Doubleday, 1962), Evolution or Extinction: The Choice Before Us (Pergamon, 1982) and Hubris and the Presidency: The Abuse of Power by Johnson and Nixon (Rutledge Books).

Review quote

" The strength of our democracy lies in the wide variety of leaders and heroes we produce at all levels. This story is a wonderful example!" - Joseph S. Nye, Jr., dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and author of The Paradox of American Power

Flap copy

Second lieutenant Dick Curtis arrived in Italy in May 1944-twenty years old and part of a shipment of P-51 Mustang fighter pilots so desperately needed that they were rushed into combat with less than thirty hours of flight time in their new high-performance aircraft. Six of the twelve pilots assigned to the 52nd Fighter Group were shot down in the first two weeks. By his ninth mission, Curtis was the only one still flying. A maverick, he barely escaped court-martial with his high-flying antics. Escorting bombers sent to pound heavily defended oil fields was risky enough, but strafing the enemy supply lines, ports, and airfields was even more dangerous. Curtis may chalk up his success to dumb luck, but these missions took exceptional skill and courage. This hair-raising account captures the air war in all its split-second terror and adrenaline-pumping action.