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From F-4 Phantom to A-10 Warthog (ePub)

Memoirs of a Cold War Fighter Pilot

Aviation Memoirs Cold War

By Col Steven K Ladd
Imprint: Air World
File Size: 13.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 328
ISBN: 9781526761255
eBook Released: 18th November 2020

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Fighter pilots! Images of Baron Manfred von Richthofen and Eddie Rickenbacker in the Great War, Johnnie Johnson, Robert Stanford Tuck and Richard Bong in the Second World War, or Robin Olds in Vietnam, all spring to mind. Volumes have been written about them, past and present. Understandably, most of these revolve around the skill, cunning and bravery that characterizes this distinctive band of brothers, but there are other dimensions to those who take to the skies to do battle that have not been given the emphasis they deserve – until now.

You do not have to be an aviation aficionado to enjoy Colonel Steve Ladd’s fascinating personal tale, woven around his 28-year career as a fighter pilot. This extremely engaging account follows a young man from basic pilot training to senior command through the narratives that define a unique ethos. From the United States to Southeast Asia; Europe to the Middle East; linking the amusing and tongue-in-cheek to the deadly serious and poignant, this is the lifelong journey of a fighter pilot.

The anecdotes provided are absorbing, providing an insight into life as an Air Force pilot, but, in this book, as Colonel Ladd stresses, the focus is not on fireworks or stirring tales of derring-do. Instead, this is an articulate and absorbing account of what life is really like among a rare breed of arrogant, cocky, boisterous and fun-loving young men who readily transform into steely professionals at the controls of a fighter aircraft.

Phantom to Warthog is a terrific read: the legacy of a fighter pilot.

Rating: 5 stars

This was a very entertaining read indeed.
I laughed, I cried and I learned a few things as well.
Because the author is my big brother, I was aware of a lot of these stories (the funny ones anyway) but the ones I was unaware of were touching, irreverent and some were downright scary.
This book encapsulates the life and times of fighter pilot, a leader, a loving husband and an American hero (to me anyway)
Great read big brother.
Thanks for filling in the gaps of a story that I always envied from afar.
By the way, you will love this book if you like anything having to do with military life and the sense of humor that you need to live it.

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Amazon Customer, Kim

Rating: 5 stars

This is an informative, entertaining and humorous book. You don’t have to be an aviation fan to enjoy this. I literally could not put it down. I enjoyed it so much I plan to give as a gift to several family members that I know would really like reading it.

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Amazon Customer, Danny Stanley

Rating: 5 stars

I first met Steve when we were both assigned to the 92 Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Bentwaters. I remember him as a no nonsense fighter pilot who demanded perfection in the air at all times. I also remember him as an F-4 dude who finally got religion and transitioned to single seat, and would raze him about that at the O’Club. (Good natured of course. He did outrank me.) Steve’s book made me remember all of my past times of learning how to fly the USAF way, the great times in various squadrons, the loss of fellow pilots due to accidents, and the very tangled ways careers are made. But the very essence of being a fighter pilot is captured in these pages and I recommend this book to anyone who has a love of aviation. I will admit I drove my wife nuts with my combined laughter, tears of joy, and some somber moments. Well done Steve and Elaine. Thanks for spending the time crafting one of the best books I have read in years. From one OFP to another - well done. First round is on you.

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Amazon Customer, Thomas E Lunney

Rating: 5 stars

First, full disclosure: I have known Steve Ladd for a long time. In fact, he rode around in the back seat of my F-4 for a couple of years and then, as an instructor pilot during his upgrade to the front seat, I rode around in his. I have long been aware of Steve’s (sometimes somewhat self-deprecating) sense of humor (which underlies this entire book), but what I was never aware of is his absolute mastery of the written word. From one who has been there and done that, this book is a masterpiece! If you are a fighter pilot, you will exult in the fact that someone was able to so vividly describe your world and your ethos. If you are not a fighter pilot (my sympathies) you will enjoy having an insight into a group of arrogant, skillful, and most of all patriotic group. Congratulations to my old friend, Steve.

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Amazon Customer, Robert Mac Staples

Rating: 5 stars

As an OFP, this is one of the best flying books I have ever had the pleasure of reading! This gives a wonderful glimpse of what real fighter pilots are and why. It brought back many memories of times past and made me cry with laughter on more than one occasion. Steve had a fantastic career and one that many would be envious to have had.

Amazon, Gary L. Retterbush

Rating: 5 stars

Great stories of the Cold War , some tragic, some comic , what it means to be a jet jockey and how he got there . Really enjoyable book for more than just Phantom or Hog fans . Highly recommended!

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Amazon Customer, Ap Guntripp

Rating: 5 stars

Its often said, there is a book in all of us and this could not be more true for Steve Ladd. A well written,often humorous account of his live in aviation, the USAF and his obvious love for his wife Elaine. I have thoroughly enjoyed this read and I have to say this...when are you starting the next one? Congratulations...brilliant!

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Amazon Customer, John Scofield

Rating: 5 stars

The author gives an insight into the precision and constant educational training required by his former profession, as well as showing the loyalty of colleagues and just good fun they had along the way. He describes the life in the USAF for him and his wife of nearly 50 yrs, Elaine. The couple have travelled the world, uprooting every three years or so, and their love, loyalty and support for each other shines through, as well as the love and respect for the good friends made along the way. It has technical detail, but framed in a way which is understandable to the uninitiated, and has anecdotal and funny stories which make it a good read for anyone who enjoys an adventure story with laughs. It is not just about aeroplanes, fabulous as it must be to fly them, but also the life lived along the way.

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Amazon Customer, K. Wright

Rating: 5 stars

This was difficult to put down. Not a gung-ho "500kts with nothing on the clock" type of memoir but a thoughtful, well crafted and humorous account of a fighter pilot's career that puts you in the cockpit / briefing room / bar with the author and his fellow aviators during Vietnam and the Cold War. 5 stars from me!

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Amazon Customer, M D Mold

This book is the memoirs of Colonel Steve Ladd from the USAF, who served 28 years as a fighter pilot, flying as the book says specifically the F-4 Phantom and the A-10 Warthog with a number in between around the world. The book discusses a number life events such as the stresses and strains flying fast jets, family, working as part of a team and quite often all the technical dramas and skills endured by a lifelong pilot. An excellent book about the everyday life and dramas of an everyday pilot.

I must admit to approaching this book and having a pre-conceived idea of what the book was going to be like. I must admit to thinking this would be about a loud, brash, gung-ho, American fighter pilot. Now having read the book, I can say that I was wrong, what comes across in this book is a highly qualified and intelligent man who knew how to work hard and play hard. As someone whose father served in the RAF, what really struck me was the stories and tales of a group of young men forced to work together and work as a well-oiled team. Some of the book sounded familiar such as being a part of a community and having to move around the world every few years with no real choice. This book is very well written, funny along the way and I enjoyed the more personal side of the book. It made a really good change from reading about WW2 aviation, and anyone into reading about Cold War aviation will enjoy this. Highly recommended.

5 stars

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UK Historian

The book is a delight to read as he goes back through his life as a fighter pilot it takes many different twists and turns as he explains all the different things that he had to go through before he became a pilot. Some of the chapters nearly had me crying with laughter as he explains certain situations that he had got into I found it extremely difficult to put down when I started reading it he takes me almost on the same journey in my imagination, such is his ability through writing to get over his days as a Cold War fighter pilot. For anyone who is interested in the cold war, I am sure that you would certainly learn a lot about the Phantom and the warthog I highly recommend this book.

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Armorama

Absolutely brilliant!!! As a retired USAF F4 Phantom and A-10 avionics technician the author (let's call him Steve) brought the humour and the trials and tribulations of USAF existence to life.

Steve leads us from being a student pilot (and USAF officer) through assignments in combat zones, Cold War bases and 'peace dividend' experiences, all the while weaving his story with humorous antadotes, seat of the pants flying and respect (kind of) for authority.

We get to meet Elaine, his wife/partner/spouse (you choose) and the positive influences (restraining voice) she had upon the author and his career.

Steve tells his story through his eyes with reflection of his progression through the ranks and jobs/functions he held during his career.

He had me in fits of giggles and/or fondly remembering my own experiences of the USAF life as we both knew it, and sadness it will never be that way again.

He was a combat flier, and was never happy behind a BGD (you have to read it!). This lends to Steve telling us of exploits and 'dream sheets' to avoid the BGD as much as possible. We in maintenance had similar constraints on career progression, so it was nice to see we all suffered under 'a common enemy'!

I could ramble on, but IMHO (read the book) he has done justice to his task as it says in the title, and the result is a most enjoyable read for both military and civilian audiences.

I would recommend it to one and all.

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GoodReads, Bob Hale

I have to say this is an extremely good reading, very engaging, very personal and comes highly recommended... I was absorbed from start to finish!

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Scale Modelling Now

So, in conclusion I’ve decided it would be wrong to even try to categorise Steve Ladd’s memoirs. Rather I’d just like to summarise them. They are an insight into the life of someone who did a job I could never imagine doing, written by “one of the good guys” - a man of wit, compassion, courage, loyalty, sense of duty and patriotism that it would be lovely, but brave, to aspire to. Please do try and get hold of a copy of this book for yourself or anyone you know - reading it is a joyful education in so many ways.

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Andy Fraser

About Col Steven K Ladd

Colonel STEVE LADD, DFC, MSc, BSc was a career USAF officer fighter pilot and commander for 28 years. During his career, he amassed over 4,400 hours’ flying time, equally split between the F-4 Phantom and the A-10 Warthog. His Phantom credential includes over 400 hours (204 missions) of combat experience over North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Since retirement from the USAF he has been employed as a CAA Aerodrome Inspector, Operations Director of Cardiff International Airport, Fast Jet Curriculum Development Lead for Ascent Flight Training, Ltd., and adjunct Professor of Aviation Science and Management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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