Secret Spitfires – The Book – solentaviatrix

We’ve had the Secret Spitfires documentary and DVD, then the stage play (Shadow Factories). Now the book is published.

Secret Spitfires: Britain’s Hidden Civilian Army by Karl Howman, Etham Cetintas, Gavin Clarke.The History Press. Hardcover. ISBN: 9780750991995. Also available on kindle…

Source: Secret Spitfires – The Book – solentaviatrix

Intermission Story (4) – A Japanese Ace | Pacific Paratrooper

“In the ocean of the military, reflective of all distinguished pilots, an honored Buddhist person.”  So translates the name awarded to Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Nishizawa following his death i…

Source: Intermission Story (4) – A Japanese Ace | Pacific Paratrooper

April 11, 1970  Houston, We’ve had a Problem – Today in History

For four days and nights, the three-man crew lived aboard the cramped, freezing Aquarius, a landing module intended to support a crew of 2 for only 1½ days

Source: April 11, 1970  Houston, We’ve had a Problem – Today in History

N.B. I’m not currently responding to comments or visiting blogs because of ill-health but I much appreciate your support.

The History Girls: Those Magnificent Women in Their Flying Machines – Aviatrices of the 1920s and 1930s by Christina Koning

Having just finished my latest novel, ‘Time of Flight’, which is set in 1931, and features – amongst other characters – a number of female flyers, I wanted to make my last post for the History Girls about these wonderful ‘queens of the air’, who did so much to popularise flying in its golden years. One of the most celebrated was Amelia Earhart – pronounced ‘Air-heart’ (1897-1937) – who, apart from setting numerous aviation records, including being the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic, was instrumental in setting up ‘The Ninety-Nines’, an association of women pilots…

Source: The History Girls: Those Magnificent Women in Their Flying Machines – Aviatrices of the 1920s and 1930s by Christina Koning

Defending Wellington: The Home Guard at Makara – History Geek

Braithwaite, a young member of No. 12 Platoon, Makara Battalion, New Zealand Home Guard, 1942. Lemuel Lyes Collection.

These previously unpublished photographs of the Home Guard offer a rare candid view of an often-overlooked part of New Zealand’s experience during the Second World War. Far from being a safe sidesh…

Source: Defending Wellington: The Home Guard at Makara – History Geek

Japanese WWII Vet Sees Trouble on the Horizon | Pacific Paratrooper

NAGANO, Japan — Kaname Harada was once a feared samurai of the sky, shooting down 19 Allied aircraft as a pilot of Japan’s legendary Zero fighter plane during World War II. Now 98 years old and in …

Source: Japanese WWII Vet Sees Trouble on the Horizon | Pacific Paratrooper

Saburo Sakai, WWII Japanese Ace – know who you’re up against | Pacific Paratrooper

As the Intermission stories come to a close, until we reach the break of 1944-1945, we take a look at one of the pilots the Allied Air Forces were up against…..   Saburō Sakai in the co…

Source: Saburo Sakai, WWII Japanese Ace – know who you’re up against | Pacific Paratrooper

Black History Month 2016 – Bessie Coleman – Selma P. Verde’s Blog

For the final week of Black History Month of 2016, I’m going to blog about Bessie Coleman. What was the inspiration this time? I thought back to what my original plan for the Black History Month 2016 blog was and started researching. My interest in aviation drew me to looking at women pilots. When I started reading about Bessie Coleman, I found out there are many similarities between her and Eugene Bullard’s experiences in life and in Aviation. Then I was even more intrigued. Bullard was the first black fighter pilot that I blogged about earlier this month. Coleman and Bullard both broke through the color line, Bullard as a fighter pilot and Coleman as a woman barnstorming pilot. They both were forced to go to France to escape from the discrimination here in the US to do what they wanted to do, Bullard to make a life for himself in a place where he would be respected. Coleman went there to learn how to fly which gave her the tools to pursue her three life goals.

According to, Bessie Coleman was born on January 26, 1892, the 12th of 13 children. Her father, being part Indian, moved back to the Indian territory when Bessie was only seven, leaving her Mom to raise four daughters and a son. To support the family, her Mom picked cotton and…

Source: Black History Month 2016 – Bessie Coleman – Selma P. Verde’s Blog




This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of French aviator Roger Somner sitting in the pilot seat  of his 1910 biplane. Somner was an aviation pioneer. The Washington Herald (1909) reported that he broke a world record in a Farman Biplane by flying one hour and fifty minutes at the height of 80 feet. This was a record due to the length of time logged in the air. The Oregon News (1909) described an international aviation contest involving at least five nations competing for about 401,000 dollars worth of prizes. Somner was representing France while the American competitor was Glenn Curtiss (another celebrated aviation pioneer). The Lewiston Evening Journal (1910) reported that Somner ad established a new world record by piloting a plane with three passengers for a total of five minutes. Somner was clearly a brave man. This vintage postcard has a postmark from the French city of…

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An Unusual Tale

Pacific Paratrooper

Crusader Crusader

Story brought to us by Ian from Welcome to My World and Aussie Emu.

The Time a Fighter Pilot Ejected Into a Thunderstorm and Rode the Lightning

Marine Corps Lt. Col. William H. Rankin had flown combat flight operations in both World War II and the Korean War, but it wasn’t enemy fire that came closest to killing him during his military flying career. It was a summer thunderstorm over the east coast of the United States.

Lt.Col. William Rankin Lt.Col. William Rankin

On July 26, 1959 Rankin and his wingman, 1st Lt. Herbert Nolan, were flying a pair of F-8 Crusaders from South Weymouth, Mass back to their home base at Beaufort, S.C. when they encountered a line of severe thunderstorms over North Carolina. Shortly after the fighters climbed up to 47,000 feet to go over the growing cumulonimbus clouds, Rankin heard a loud grinding noise followed by a loss of power from…

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Red tails, black wings: The Tuskegee Airmen | Eagle-Eyed Editor


Originally posted on Eagle-Eyed Editor.

It’s wonderful what you can do when somebody else believes in you. Sometimes you have to struggle to win over hearts and minds; other times you don’t.

John B. Holway wrote a great book about exactly this type of situation. It’s called Red Tails, Black Wings: The Men of America’s Black Air Force.

The book concerns the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American men who began training as pilots in Tuskegee, Alabama in the early 1940s. Jim Crow laws were still in effect and although African-American men were admitted to military service, they were placed in menial labor positions.

But that would change, and Tuskegee was the beginning. The men of Tuskegee not only performed well as pilots in spite of others’ low expectations, they excelled. The Red Tails (parts of their planes were…

via Red tails, black wings: The Tuskegee Airmen | Eagle-Eyed Editor.

Eye Witness Account (1)

Pacific Paratrooper


The Doolittle Raid was launched on the morning of 18 April 1942, 150 miles further from mainland Japan than originally planned. At 0843 hours, Lt. Ted William Lawson took flight in “The Ruptured Duck” B-25B # 40-2261, of the 95th Bomber Squadron/17th Bomber Group.

Lt. Ted W. Lawson Lt. Ted W. Lawson

“A Navy man stood at the bow of the ship with a checkered flag.  He gave Doolittle [the lead plane] the signal to begin racing his engines again.  Doolittle gave his engines more and more throttle until I was afraid he’d burn them up.  A wave crashed at the bow and sprayed the deck.

leaving the USS Hornet leaving the USS Hornet

“The man with the flag was waiting, timing the dipping of the ship for it’s take-off.  The man gave a new signal.  Navy boys pulled the blocks from under the wheels.  We watched him like hawks, wondering what the wind would do to him…

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