I am a pilot. At age 63, my world is rocked when my two closest friends, ex-fighter pilots, sell their planes. What? Why? We’d flown together for twenty years! Ten of them, performing at airshows as the Luscombe Formation Team! But there’s no way around it – they’re calling it quits. “Wait! Just because we’re done, you’re not off the hook. Get a grip … Navy reject, for God’s sake! We’ve invested a lot of years trying to make a pilot out of you. It’s time to step up and take the freakin’ baton!”
What? It’s about payback? It had been my lifelong dream, to fly a single-seat fighter, after watching an uncle buzz my grandparents’ house in a Hellcat, when I was four. Two years later finding his dusty copy of Your Wings in their attic, a text for aviation cadets of World War II. Absorbing that book by flashlight in my attic bedroom. Yearning for my chance to fly. A dream brought to reality by perseverance and hard work.
And then, during the Reno Air Races, on September 16, 2011, at St. Mary’s Hospital, absorbing the realization that I was a survivor. After hurling myself toward the ridge tops as the P-51D Galloping Ghost at 500 miles an hour smashed itself into a maelstrom of razor blades and machetes on the tarmac, barely a dozen feet from where I’d been standing. Veteran race pilot, Jimmy Leeward, and ten others, dead. The propeller, a whirl of slashing swords. Yet, I'd survived.
No, it's not about payback! It’s about urgent necessity! That which had impelled the students of Your Wings, now compels us to sustain the accomplishments of their generation. It's about casting aside easy passivity, to stand up for what we have. Family, friends, freedom, faith. It's about Our Wings!
Finished Our Wings just now. Loved it!
I’ve been a pilot since I was too young to take the test – a lot of co-flying across Long Island Sound. Got my ticket at 16. Flying and working on airplanes became my life. Flying and training and teaching. Military, American Airlines, general aviation, soaring. Taught old and young, rich and poor, trying to pass on something.
Doug gets it. Wonderful insight.
The book is great! Real people in real situations facing real challenges.
Draggin ! Thank you for the opportunity to read and enjoy such a wonderful piece of work. You are without a doubt a truly gifted writer. You have the baton!
Our Wings is an intriguing read. Clough’s style is reminiscent of Richard Bach with his ability to create beautiful, vivid imagery to transport the reader to the scene. His style also evokes a sense of Sullenberger with its journey from aviation roots through various schools of learning and experience and culminating with the Reno accident---where all his training, skills and instinct propelled him to a judgment that would result in his survival.
Humor, reverence and acknowledgement of our human frailties are woven into the story, not only making it an entertaining read, but one that individuals with diverse backgrounds and life experiences can relate to.
When ‘the light came on’ we were shooting take offs and landings at Western Airpark. A field not aligned with roads or section lines. “Look for a target on your left wing … turn … do it again. Turn downwind, pick a spot...throttle back to zero thrust. When the spot moves up, turn base and it’s all yours …”
I was blessed to be there.
Highly recommended!! Reading Our Wings, it is quite obvious the author, Doug Clough, is one enthusiastic, ongoing participant in the area of General Aviation. His enthusiasm leaps out and captures one’s interest.
I met Doug in the early 1980’s, as he and Art Moxley flew their Luscombes into Enterprise Flying Club in Redding, CA for refreshments and a fuel stop. They were on their way to the annual Luscombe fly-in at Columbia, CA. It was apparent that Doug did not know how to fuel his Luscombe, while using the club’s gas pumps, so I intervened and did it for him. We have been friends ever since. Subsequent years saw Doug and others from the state of Washington come to Enterprise Flying Club, for fuel and refreshments, on their way to the Columbia fly-in. Gentlemen that we are, several of us pilots at Enterprise took the lead and went to Columbia with Doug and associates every trip, so they would arrive on time without getting lost!
In Our Wings, Doug brings out the fun, adventure, excitement, and camaraderie of flying. I encourage all aviation wannabees to share and learn from Doug’s experiences and insights.
Come on young people, join us! Please read and enjoy Our Wings, a bit of General Aviation history.
Doug Clough has lived for more than thirty years at Kapowsin Field (86WA) near Eatonville, WA, where he and his wife Linda raised their daughter, Kenna. Now retired, he was self-employed for over twenty years as a consulting software engineer, flying himself to client sites around the Pacific Northwest in the family's 1954 Cessna 195B and 1946 Luscombe 8A. Doug holds a Commercial Pilot certificate and also a Doctorate in Engineering from UC Berkeley.