To Fly and Fight: Memoirs of a Triple
Ace by Col. Clarence
E. "Bud" Anderson with Joseph P. Hamelin
Bud Anderson is a
enduring love of flying began in the 1920s with the planes that flew over his
father's farm. In January 1942, he entered the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet
Program. Later after he received his wings and flew P-39s, he was chosen as one
of the original flight leaders of the new 357th Fighter Group. Equipped with the
new and deadly P-51 Mustang, the group shot down five enemy aircraft for each
one it lost while escorting bombers to targets deep inside Germany. But the
price was high. Half of its pilots were killed or imprisoned, including some of
Bud's closest friends.
In February 1944, Bud
Anderson entered the uncertain, exhilarating, and deadly world of aerial combat.
He flew two tours of combat against the Luftwaffe in less than a year. In
battles sometimes involving hundreds of airplanes, he ranked among the group's
leading aces with 16 1/4 aerial victories. He flew 116 missions in his old crow
without ever being hit by enemy aircraft or turning back for any reason despite
one life or death confrontation after another.
His friend Chuck Yeager,
who flew with Anderson in the 357th, says, "In an airplane, the guy was a
mongoose--the best fighter pilot I ever saw."
Bud's years as a test
pilot were at least as risky. In one bizarre experiment, he repeatedly linked up
in midair with a B-29 bomber, wingtip to wingtip. In other tests, he flew a jet
fighter that was launched and retrieved from a giant B-36 bomber. As in combat,
he lost many friends flying tests such as these.
Bud commanded a squadron
of F-86 jet fighters in postwar Korea and a wing of F-105s on Okinawa during the
mid-1960s. In 1970 at age forty-eight, he flew combat strikes as a wing
commander against communist supply lines.
To Fly and Fight is
about flying, plain and simple--the joys and dangers and the very special skills
it demands. Touching, thoughtful, and dead honest, it is the story of a boy who
grew up living his dream.