On May 10, 1940, the Germans neutralized one of the most heavily fortified fortresses in Europe with a new weapon: the combat glider—an aerial vehicle capable of carrying men and equipment in close proximity to each other and crash landing behind enemy lines. The Army Air Corps soon established its own glider pilot program, but the glider pilots were not considered power pilots nor infantry. The end result was a group of young men looking for adventure—belonging seemingly to no command other than on paper—that through the course of the war went into combat with varying amounts of equipment, training, survival gear, or none at all.
Suicide Jockeys: The Making of the WWII Combat Glider Pilot delves into the making of the glider pilot and the logistical, strategic, and tactical use of the plane they flew. In their “flying coffins,” these glider pilots were the independent bastards of the Army Air Corp, demonstrating sheer guts, talent, skill, and luck in their missions, and ultimately helping to turn the tide of the war.