The 78th FG was originally established as the fourth of the P fighter groups that were expected to perform fighter escort in the newly formed Eighth Air Force. Arriving in England in November , the group lost most of its personnel and all of its aircraft as attrition replacements to units in the North African theatre in February Left with no flying personnel other than flight leaders, and no aircraft, the group was re-equipped with the P Thunderbolt and newly trained P pilots in March The 78th flew its first sweep along the Dutch coast in April in company with the 4th FG. Once turned loose in to attack German airfields, the 78th was also credited with the destruction of aircraft by strafing. The story of the 78th FG will be researched through extensive first-person interviews with eight surviving pilots and ground personnel of the unit, and also using previously recorded interviews with two leading ace pilots who are no longer alive.
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Thomas McKelvey Cleaver 16 followers Most of my non-fiction writing is in the field of aviation, primarily the history of people, units and events, though I am also interested in technological developments and their influence on events. Over the years I read many books by Bill as I came eventually to know him , and 25 years later he was the first editor to professionally publish an article by me about an aviation topic a feature about people in California who restored, owned and operated antique airplanes.
Not only did he publish the article, he used my photograph for the cover of that issue of Air Enthusiast Quarterly! In the years that followed, Bill became a friend through the mail, a source of valuable insight about writing, and an enthusiastic supporter of my efforts. My interest in the field of aviation must be genetic.
My father was involved in aviation in the s, and knew most of the Major Names of the era, like Jimmy Doolittle, Roscoe Turner, and even Ernst Udet. As an aside, I met General Doolittle myself in Upon hearing my name, he looked me up and down, then shook his head and said "Nope, too young and too tall. Once I identified myself, he told me a story about my father I had never heard before. I later discovered he had near-perfect recall of names and events.
In addition to writing about airplanes, I take pictures of them in flight. As a pilot myself, I have about hours in a Stearman biplane trainer as a member of a club back in the s. I am certain my personal knowledge of flying as a pilot has helped me put a reader "in the cockpit" in my writing. While I have advanced college and university degrees, I consider myself an autodidact, and I see the involvement with airplanes as my key to the world of self-education, as I would ask myself "what was that airplane used for?
My "film school" education came on Saturday afternoons spent at the old Park Theater on South Gaylord Street in Denver, where I went every Saturday from age 7 to age 15 when the theater closed, and watched everything that played on-screen.
Somewhere along there, I learned the meaning of "good movie.
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