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So I Bought an Air Force

The True Story of a Gritty Midwesterner in Somoza's Nicaragua

W. W. Martin

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  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.00" x 9.00"
  • ISBN: 978-1-938690-36-5
  • Publication Date: 2013-08-06
  • Two Harbors Press

Availability: In stock

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So I Bought an Air Force

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Nicaraguan strongman General Anastasio Somoza is making room for the modern jets sent down by his Cold War ally, the United States. Will Martin, a 34-year-old civilian pilot, has just suffered the loss of his family business in Chicago and is looking to make a fresh start. So I Bought An Air Force is the wild but true tale of how Martin buys the Nicaraguan Air Force’s fleet of P-51 Mustangs, F-47 Thunderbolts, and C-45 Expeditors and his struggles to get his planes back up to the U.S. With stunning color photographs from the author’s personal archive, So I Bought An Air Force gives 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.

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"The national treasure we now call Warbirds exist today because of enterprising individuals like Will Martin. I had known of his adventure bringing back Mustangs from Central America for many years, but did not know the scope and detail of the story until reading So I Bought An Air Force. I could hardly wait to turn the page as the story unfolded. A true adventure many can only dream of…."—Rick Siegfried, Past President, EAA Warbirds of America

"As an aviation enthusiast and retired Air Force fighter pilot, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. A unique and captivating story of one man's venture into buying vintage WW II aircraft from a foreign country and flying them back to the United States for resale. Will Martin covered this part of his life in an interesting and action filled narrative. I am sure he never envisioned the challenges he would encounter along the way. I admire the talents he exhibited in carrying out this venture as a business man, aviator and diplomat. It took a person with great determination and  true grit to see it through.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in aviation and adventure."—Jerry W. Tietge, B/Gen USAF (Ret)

"As an Air Force Stan/Eval Chief (Chief Pilot), I’ve had a chance to fly with, and to evaluate, a lot of highly skilled pilots. I’ve also had the chance to fly with Will Martin in his P-51, his Queenair, his T-34 and my Rangemaster. Will is one heck of a pilot; he has great instincts and a keen feeling for the machine. I have no doubt that these attributes enabled him to survive the dramatic events which unfold in So I Bought an Air Force."—Darrell L. Anderson, Colonel, USAF (Ret)

"[Martin's] lively, fresh narrative leads the reader through crash landings in remote areas, encounters with machete-toting civilians, treacherous mercenaries, and obfuscating embassy personnel....The full-color photos are tied closely to the text, illustrating points and incidents as they occurred, giving the book an immediacy and intimacy.....Destined to be a classic, this is a book you'll want to read and re-read."—Air Power History


W. W. Martin

Will Martin holds a commercial pilot certificate and multi-engine and instrument ratings. Flying “El Gato,” the P-51 Mustang he restored, he has performed in many air shows including Oshkosh, the Chicago Air and Water, the Commemorative Air Force, and the Illinois Antique Airplane Association B-17 Reunion. He founded the Squadron Four Warbird chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association and has been a featured speaker for numerous aviation and business groups.

Martin has experience in a wide range of aircraft, having piloted more than forty different types of planes. Those he has owned include a Beechcraft C-45, D-18, T34B, Bonanza, and Queen Air; a North American P-51D, P-51TF, T-28A and a Navion; a Piper Apache; a Cessna 401 and 402; a Douglas B-26; and a Republic P-47. He and his wife Patricia live in a suburb of Chicago.