Robin Olds is one of history's most "colorful" aces and an unquestioned legend as a combat leader! The son of aviation pioneer Major General Robert Olds, he was born in 1922 in Hawaii. He grew up on army airfields where he fell in love with airplanes, and was inspired by the men who flew them. After high school, Olds won an appointment to the US Military Academy. As a cadet, he completed primary flight training in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A born competitor, he was captain and starting tackle for West Point's football squad and in 1942, was named "All-American."
After basic and advanced flight training, Olds received his wings and graduated 2 days later--at the end of his third year at West Point! After fighter tactics school and training in the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, he went to England with the 434th Fighter Squadron, arriving in the spring of 1944. Olds became an Ace in August, downing five enemy aircraft on two missions. In February 1945, he took command of the squadron. When the air war over Germany ended, he had flown 107 combat missions in the P-38 and the North American P-51 Mustang; he was officially credited with 13 aerial victories. Returning to the States, Olds helped form and then flew in the nation's first jet acrobatic team, performing in the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star.
In 1946, he flew in the National Air Races and placed second in the Thompson Trophy Race. Later that year, he took part in the first round-trip transcontinental flight in a day. In 1948, Olds became an exchange pilot flying the Gloster Meteor at Royal Air Force (RAF) Tangmere, England. He completed the one-year tour in command of RAF 1 Squadron--the first American to lead a regular RAF squadron. He spent 17 months as commander of a fighter interceptor squadron in Pennsylvania, and was then posted to staff duty at an air defense region in New York state. These assignments kept him from the "action" in Korea. Olds commanded fighter squadrons in Germany and Libya in the mid-1950's, and then served in staff jobs in Washington D.C. until he entered National War College in l962.
He returned to active flying in l963 as Commander, 81st Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) in England. In l966, he took command of the 8th TFW at Ubon AB, Thailand. Olds led the Wolfpack in the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II both on the ground and in air! In 152 combat missions, that included the Operation Bolo fighter sweep, he shot down at least four MiGs. He next served as Commandant of Cadets, US Air Force Academy, and then became USAF Director of Aerospace Safety. Among Olds' many decorations are the Air Force Cross and the Silver Star with three oak leaf clusters.
On 7 April 1945, Major Robin Olds was leading the 479th Fighter Group on a mission over Germany in his North American P-51 Mustang "Scat VI." Escorting a formation of bombers, Olds noticed contrails popping up over clouds at his nine o'clock position. Turning toward the contrails, he got "Tally-ho" on a group of 12 Messerschmitt Me 262 jets diving in on the bombers. After an engagement with one of the jets, Olds looked back at the bombers and saw an Me 109 attacking the formation. He followed the enemy through the middle of the bombers, opened fire and scored direct hits. The pilot bailed out and his airplane went straight in!