In his book Look, Mom — I Can Fly: Memoirs of a World War II P-38 Fighter Pilot, Robert ‘Smoky’ Vrilakas relates the following: prewar life, 1941 draft into the U.S. Army, time in the 7th Infantry Division, transfer to the Army Air Corps, flying training, existence as a 94th Fighter Squadron, Two Engine (aka ‘Hat-in-the-Ring Squadron’), 1st Fighter Group Lockheed P-38F Lightning pilot in North Africa and Italy, aerial victories, U.S. Air Force service during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and his conversion to North American P-51D and Douglas C-124 Globemaster II pilot. Smoky retired in 1973 after the accumulation of 51 combat missions in WWII and 9,000 flight hours.
Look, Mom — I Can Fly provides an interesting and informative look at P-38 operations. Through Mr. Vrilakas’ saga one can understand why Lightnings were in such demand for service in the Mediterranean and South Pacific theatres. This work is recommended reading for all fans of the potent, distinctive, and legendary ‘Forked-Tailed Devils’.
Vrilakas, Robert. Look, Mom — I Can Fly: Memoirs of a World War II P-38 Fighter Pilot. Tucson: Amethyst Moon Publishing, 2011.