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The Man Called Brown Condor: The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot Paperback – Import, 12 Jan 2016
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"[Robinson's] lifelong triumph over adversity belongs to the greatest of American success stories." --Peter Hannaford, Washington Times "The story of John C. Robinson, born in segregated Mississippi at the turn of the century, and his remarkable story of not just becoming a pilot but rising to become the commander of the Ethiopian Air Force during the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935." --Publishers Weekly "Simmons spent over 20 years researching the remarkable life of John D. Robinson, who rose from segregationist Mississippi to become a distinguished pilot, founder of the Tuskegee Institute's school of aviation, a bold defender of Ethiopia during the 1935 Italian invasion, and, finally, founder of the Ethiopian Air Force." --Library Journal "An inspiring affirmation that celebrates the old adage that where there's a will, there's a way, even against seemingly impossible odds." --Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Thomas E. Simmons grew up in Mississippi and attended the Marion Military Institute, the U. S. Naval Academy, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Alabama. He served as commercial captain of a seventy-foot sailing vessel, has been a pilot since the age of sixteen, has flown professionally, and participated in air shows flying aerobatics in open-cockpit biplanes. In 1960, he served as an artillery officer in Korea. He and his wife live in Gulfport, Mississippi.
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Whenever I read a true story of someone who has done extraordinary things and never received the recognition deserved, I stand in ovation as it finally happens. Tom Simmons has brought to light the life of John Robinson, a man who never used the word 'can't' and gave his whole life to flying and teaching others, especially those underdogs who would not have had the opportunity, to fly. I cried as I read how he became a janitor so he could eavesdrop on the classes he needed to take to get his pilot's license (which he was not allowed to take because he was black). Who, in our time, do you see that breaks through barriers like that? I would love to see Denzel Washington play him in the movie! He would be perfect for it! My hat is off to Tom Simmons! Oh, and did you see this book was presented to the President of Ethiopia? Holy smokes! What an honor!
— CJ Loiacono
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Similarly, John C. Robinson was a great American aviator - internationally acclaimed in his lifetime - but as a black Mississippian, he's been largely forgotten. If not for author Thomas Simmons' excellent research - much of it derived through personal interviews - Robinson's achievements might continue to go unnoticed.
Yet much of what this man did looms all the brighter when we consider the racial barriers he surmounted. When an aviation school denied him admission, Robinson took a janitorial job there and audited classes broom-in-hand. He built his own plane, started his own flying school - even helped create a black airport when white ones refused to refuel his plane.
Robinson's pushed for an aviation program at Tuskegee Institute to train other black pilots, giving rise to the famous Tuskegee airmen who performed so bravely as the Red Tail squadron in World War Two. Not waiting for the US to enter that war, Robinson began fighting fascism in 1935 when Mussolini attacked Ethiopia. The Brown Condor led the Ethiopian air force, being twice wounded and also gassed. And after the war, he helped establish an Ethiopian airline.
-- Newton Berry