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Thread: WGFB: Terror of the Autumn Skies

  1. #1

    Default WGFB: Terror of the Autumn Skies

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    Book Title:
    Blaine Pardoe
    This is a biography of Frank Luke. It touches on his early years where he collected tarantulas, was a star H.S. athlete in Phoenix, AZ., and to the times in Ajo, AZ. where he ran a dance hall and boxed miners for money.

    The majority of this book is focused on the final year of Lt. Lukes' life, September 29, 1917 up to and including September 29, 1918. Relates his volunteering for the Air Service, his flight training at Kelly Field , TX and advanced flight training in San Diego. It was in San Diego Frank met and fell in love with his soon to be fiance.

    This culminates in the fiery last few weeks of his life, August 16 - September 29, 1918. How he became the daring Balloon Buster and his final mission. It provides a unique perspective of the two commanding officers of Lt. Luke. One who was able to work with Frank impetuous nature and bring out the superb airman he could be and the other who was a strict disciplinarian who brought out Frank rebeliouness. These all had an impression on Franks WWI experience.

    The author notes that if Frank were in school today he would have been diagnosed as ADHD. Because he was distractable he had to really focus on what he was doing. As a result he bore in on his target with no thought of his safety. In fact, based on recollections of the pilots that knew him, he believed he was invincible and was planning a life with his fiance. The pilots also thought Frank reckless...until his scores started piling up. He was also labeled a braggart and a coward which aliented him from several of the pilots. Discusses the impact of the loss of two of his wingmen in combat.

    The author rounds out the book by investigating and researching all the interviews and records associated with Frank's last flight. What really happened on September 29, 1918?

    Finally, the author finishes up this book with a legacy of what happened to, and in the lives of Franks contemporaries and their descendants.

    I grew up with the impression that Frank Luke was a psychotic killer with no regard for his wingman or himself. I came away from reading this poignant book with a whole new opinion and regard of Frank Luke. This was a real eye opening and page turning book to me. I hope you get as much out of it as I did.
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    Last edited by Baldrick62; 03-18-2012 at 09:22. Reason: cover picture added

  2. #2


    He collected tarantulas?! Thanks for the review...

  3. #3


    You're welcome. Yes, he and his younger sister collected tarantulas.

  4. #4


    In this book the author does debunk some of the myths surrounding the death of Luke (he didn't have a shootout with the German soldiers who found him - instead, according to witnesses, when he saw them he pulled his pistol, tried to stand, and fell over dead), but his real demise was still very heroic...

    ...but I can't help but thinking "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend".

  5. #5


    Frank Luke is a local hero, anyone who travels through Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport needs to find the full size replica of his Spad and see the great display of photos and bits of his history, it is wonderful! I was amazed at how thin the airfoil is!
    Clipper does travel a bit . . .

  6. #6


    Sounds like one to add to my wish list Terry.

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