Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this Air Force publication tells the life story of a true American hero, General James Doolittle.
Picture a man who was born before the flight of the first airplane, who spent time in Alaska during its early twentieth-century gold rush, and who became a superb pugilist, holding his own against ranked professionals. This same man joined the Army Air Service during World War I and made his first solo flight after just a few hours of training. Several years later, he earned academic degrees at one of the Nation's most prestigious institutions, and, while setting all types of speed records in a multitude of aircraft, was involved in designing and testing many innovative aviation enhancements. During World War II, this same man flew the lead bomber in a flight that delivered the first retaliatory blow against the Japanese home islands. As commander of the Twelfth Air Force, he was involved in the North African campaign, striking at the Third Reich from the Mediterranean. Then, as commander of the "mighty" Eighth Air Force, he headed to England, where his fighter pilots achieved air superiority over the Luftwaffe. Lastly, in September 1945, he witnessed the Japanese surrender on the battleship Missouri, Following the war, he served on the boards of many private corporations and government agencies and became the director of Shell Oil Company. He received his fourth star in 1985 from President Ronald Reagan, and, three years later, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush. This was not Walter Mitty or Forrest Gump, but a real person who lived for nearly a century. He was the United States Air Force's true Renaissance man, James H. Doolittle.
James H. Doolittle, a pioneer aviator, engineer, and scientist, whose career spanned powered flight's first century, was born in Alameda, California, on December 14, 1896. He spent his early childhood in Nome, Alaska, while his father worked as a carpenter and prospected for gold. As a teenager, Doolittle returned with his mother to California. At school he was interested more in physical activities than academics. His love of flying began in 1910, when, at the age of thirteen, he went to the first aviation meet held in the United States west of the Mississippi, at Dominguez Field, outside Los Angeles. There, Glenn Curtiss, flying a machine that he had designed and built himself, set a world speed record, with a passenger on board, of 55 miles per hour. The radical differences in the aircraft showcased at the meet really impressed young Doolittle, and the fact that they all flew. During much of his adolescence, he dedicated himself to building and testing his own glider. It never achieved airborne status but it left him with memories of the difficult nature of flying and the bruises of several failed attempts.