General James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle is the greatest pilot ever. 

He titled his autobiography “I could never be so lucky again”

aged 13, Jimmy #Doolittle attends the first aviation meet in the US west (Jan 1910, Dominguez Field).

Glenn Curtiss, holding the speed record of 55 mph.

Louis Paulhan had flown to 4,165 feet and flown 75 miles in less than two hours.

A dirigible race.

Wright B flyer outshone.

Pancho Barnes, aged 9, also was there, and similarly inspired. Her biography by Lauren Kessler starts right there! Her grandfather Thaddeus Lowe, pioneering balloonist, first aerial telegraph, Pres. Lincoln, June 1861.

aged 15, Jimmy #Doolittle gets a copy of the April 1909 Popular Mechanics with the Carl Bates “How to make a glider” article.

He manufactures the biwinged craft from money earned and mother sewing. He tries from a hill and towed from a car, both times crashing without flying.

From the remnants, #Doolittle planned a monoplane after Santos-Dumont and Blériot, needing a motor.

A squall destroys the 1912 project.

Doolittle declined an invitation to join the early birds, said he had not controlled flight.

Others that flew the Popular Mechanics Glider

I have 1913 publication.

1912 Harpers Aircraft Book includes some more details of building the glider. The photo appears to show the group running ahead towing the glider like a kite.

While Jimmy #Doolittle does not count these two attempts as flying, they definitely count as crashes.

His story will proceed with frequent crashes.

I cannot believe how many crashes.

His choice of title, “I could never be so lucky again”, is quite relevant!

Jimmy #Doolittle was not a daredevil!

He calculated risk and was methodical in managing it. The 1942 carrier takeoff was routine, effectively. 

Jumping ahead, but there was one airplane that stands out as the most frightening to fly, and it was an accident that brought him to it.

aged 15, Jimmy “Pierce” #Doolittle turns to professional boxing for money. Bantam weight 115 lbs, 5’ 4” tall.

A gift from his mother, a motorcycle lets him travel along the CA coast, to attend fights.

His future wife, Josephine Daniels, Joe, begs him to stop.

After high school he heads to Alaska, 1914.

aged 18, Jimmy #Doolittle finds Alaska has no work and no luck panning for gold. 

He stows away back to Los Angeles.

In 1915, he enrolls in a junior college.

Wanting to see the world and to be an engineer, he selects mining, not civil, engineering.

Summer job as miner, pick and shovel

aged 19, Jimmy #Doolittle enrolls @UCBerkeley School of Mines;

academics going well.

At 130 lbs., competes as middleweight boxer (165 lb), school champion.

Summer job 1917, miner.

Upon return, skips senior year,

enlists in aviation section, Army Signal Enlisted Reserved Corps.

aged 20, Jimmy #Doolittle lines up to be a great pilot.

Acrobatics developed fitness, balance and orientation even while tumbling through the air.

Boxing developed lightning reflexes and excellent coordination.

Joe married him and provided unconditional support.

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