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So I Bought an Air Force

Price: $16.95
Item Number: 6267179000000

Set in 1963, six months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, So I Bought an Air Force is the wild but true tale of how civilian pilot Will Martin buys the Nicaraguan Air Force’s fleet of P-51 Mustangs, P-47 Thunderbolts, and C-45 Expeditors and his determination, despite daunting obstacles, to get his planes back to the U.S.


What Martin believes will be a straightforward business transaction turns into an improbable adventure lasting more than two years, during which Martin survives attempted murder by a CIA mercenary, crash-lands three Mustangs after mysterious engine failures, makes Nicaraguan headlines as a famous Chicago gangster, shares Cokes with General Anastasio Somoza at his compound, and is arrested in Mexico with his wife as a suspect in JFK’s assassination. He earns the nickname “El Gato” among the Nicaraguans for the nine lives they are sure he must have. 


With thirty-two pages of stunning photographs from the author’s personal archive, So I Bought an Air Force fills in a little-documented piece of warbird history while giving the reader a vivid look at the rough-and-tumble world of 1960s Latin America from the cockpit of some of the hottest American aircraft ever built.  

Autographed by Will Martin, AirVenture 2013.


“The book is a true adventure many can only dream of.” said Rick Siegfried, past president of EAA Warbirds of America

Product Reviews

(6 Ratings, 3 Reviews) Average Rating:
These are the stories I heard growing up...
Andrew Martin (Kansas City, MO) 7/25/2013 7:30 AM
To be fair, Will Martin is my uncle. As a kid growing up, listening to the stories detailed in this book, he was, and still is, my favorite uncle. I had the privilege to fly in El Gato Rapido (tail number N12700) that he talks about in the book. And, yes, I did fall asleep in the back seat once! The book reads like a novel, and the details and recollections of the adventure resonate clearly. If you are a warbird fan or an aviation buff, or even a student of history, this book is a must read. Great story, great pictures and the kind of adventure that people might dream about. You will not be disappointed.
Warbird adventure in Latin America
Hart Weichselbaum (Chicago, IL) 7/13/2013 4:20 PM
I personally know this guy and had only a glimmer of an idea about his adventurous past. He’s not Graham Greene but it’s very well written, the story moves along quickly, and at times you wonder if he’s going to survive the experience. The prologue and epilogue do a nice job of setting the stage: the steamy intrigue of 60s Latin America. And the author’s love of these amazing planes comes through on every page.
An adventure that's not fiction
Glenn Martin (Palos Park, IL) 7/11/2013 8:43 PM
Although I'm prejudiced (I'm the Glenn in the book), I will attest that his memory is accurate and everything that he describes in the book really happened. He is a skilled pilot and very knowledgeable about the aircraft that he's flying. This reads like a fictional episode but it all really happened.
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