century seriesAsk any Air Force fighter pilot who served during the Cold War and Vietnam era what aircraft they flew; and they will most likely name one or more from the following list: F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, and F-106.  Taken together, these aircraft are often referred to as “The Century Series” which is the title of Ted Spitzmiller’s latest book which is extremely well researched and eminently readable.  For sure, more than a few books have been written about individual aircraft on the list; but as far as I know, no one has had the research skills much less perseverance to roll up the stories of these six aircraft  (plus four more that never made it into the Air Force inventory) into one book.  But Spitzmiller is quick to point out that he had plenty of help writing this book.  The acknowledgement list runs two pages with an admission that many names were omitted for brevity.  Speaking of the men who flew these aircraft, he says “this is their story, a chronicle of the men, machines and ideas that set the standard for a half century of fighter development.”

The best way to get your arms around this impressive work is to start with the table of contents. Browsing through the chapters listed, one can see that the book was written from the perspective of both a historian and an aerospace professional.  The first five chapters set the stage for the development of these aircraft; providing a historical perspective, the impact of the Cold War, design consideration , airborne weapons, and a profile of a fighter pilot.  In these chapters the reader learns that the aircraft were all designed from 1950 to 1960 in the dawning era of supersonic flight and each was developed with one or more Cold War missions in mind; e.g. nuclear weapons delivery, air to ground attack, air superiority, reconnaissance, and air defense. The next ten chapters are where the fun reading begins.  Each aircraft   is described in careful detail using a wealth of photographs, as well as memoirs and remembrances (a.k.a “war stories”) by well-known and sometimes not so well known men who flew it.

“The Century Series” is not a page turner; nor is it a book to be quickly scanned and tossed on the coffee table.  God forbid!  Between its covers lies the story of aircraft designed and manufactured by an aerospace industry at the top of its game, and flown by a vanishing breed of fighter pilots who flew those aircraft—sometimes at great risk—in defense of their country.  It is a story of the way we were and hopefully, will be again someday.  As a former Century Series pilot, I say well done, Ted Spitzmiller—well done indeed!

Book Details

·         Hardcover: 224 pages

·         Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (March 28, 2012)

·         Language: English

·         ISBN-10: 0764340387

·         ISBN-13: 978-0764340383

·         Available at online book retailers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Ted Spitzmiller is an Independent Aviation and Aerospace Professional whose list of previously published books include: “Enchanted Wing”; “Fate Stalks the Pacific Sky”; “Astronautics Book 1: Dawn of the Space Age”; and  “Astronautics Book 2: To the Moon and Toward the Future”.

About the Reviewer

authorRon Standerfer is a novelist, freelance writer, book reviewer, and amateur photographer whose articles have appeared in numerous news publications including online editions of the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and the Honolulu Star Advertiser. He is a member of the International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance (ITWPA) and American Writers & Artists Inc (AWAI). He is a retired Air Force fighter pilot who flew 237 combat tours in Vietnam War. His novel, The Eagles Last Flight, chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during The Cold War and Vietnam years. He also publishes an online magazine, The Pelican Journal.

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