May 5th, 2018

Robin Olds Gets His Second MIG Kill

Robin Olds got his second MIG kill of the Vietnam War 41 years ago on May 4.  In the pantheon of heroes at the Air Force Academy, Olds ranks near the top.

P-38                                                                                          P-51

Robin Olds was a double ace in World War II flying two classic airplanes, the P-38 Lightning and the P-51 Mustang.  He racked up 12 downed aircraft in the air over the skies of Europe.

After the war he married Hollywood star Ella Raines.  The two had two children.  Meanwhile Olds continued his Air Force career. He missed flying in the Korean Conflict while serving, unhappily, in desk jobs.

In 1966 he was given command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base.  In January of 1967 he scored his first aerial kill of the war downing a MIG-21 on January 2 while flying the F-4 Phantom.  He became the first ace of World War II to record a kill in the Vietnam War.

Then on May 4, 1967, he recorded his second kill.  The mission is exquisitely explained at the following website, along with some great pictures.  https://www.thisdayinaviation.com/

Olds was reluctantly called back from the Vietnam to become the Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy.  That story will be saved for another blog.  Let’s just say he was a legendary figure as the Commandant.

I was fortunate to meet him and hear him speak when I was a fourth-class cadet, after Olds had retired from active duty.  His life story was published in 2011, entitled “Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds”.  He was working on his life story when he died in 2007, reportedly a rather lonely man.  Ironic for a man who many had viewed larger than life.

However on May 4th, 1967 he was very big.