Jay Lacklen

Flying the Line, An Air Force Pilot's Journey

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Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot's Journey

Embarking on an insightful journey through the 1970s American military, Jay Lacklen takes you on a rich and often enthralling adventure from pilot training to his surreal, nightmarish B-52 bomb run during the Vietnam War.

Bringing a fresh perspective to the era, Lacklen shows how the 1960s military draft diverted him from a prospective journalism career into an Air Force cockpit to avoid the rice paddies of South Vietnam as an army rifleman. He speaks to the reader as a writer trying to become a pilot rather than the other way around.

Lacklen brings to life the world of war through a thoughtful and descriptive narrative full of poignant and tragic episodes, mixed with bawdy and hilarious tales (usually coming at the author’s expense) from 1970 to 1979 in this first book of a trilogy...

Ensnaring you with accounts of bomb runs over Cambodia and several episodes of his aircraft on the verge of crashing, Lacklen delves into the darkest moments of a pilot’s life with a writer’s eye for detail and descriptive ability.

Difficult subjects are faced head on, including encounters with hookers in Southeast Asia, a nuanced view of the North Vietnamese Army, and a surprising perspective on the Vietnam War protests including actress and activist Jane Fonda.

Lacklen explores many events of the time from the Kent State Massacre, to the fall of Saigon and the Mayaguez disaster as seen from U-Tapao AB, Thailand. Few military pilots have verbal tools to deliver the story so well.

The added feature of a contemporary soundtrack places you in the aura of the era as no written word can, such as the opening guitar notes from the song “We’ve got to get out of this place,” by the Animals, to the Vietnam theme songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival asking if you have ever seen the “rain” of B-52 bombs.

Step back to January 2, 1970 and let the decade long Air Force journey begin, a journey all students of the Vietnam War era should undertake.


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Volume Two: Military Airlift Command

Jay Lacklen’s three-book memoir covers his thirty-three-year Air Force and Air Force reserve career that began on Jan 2, 1970 and continued, except for a two-year break, until 2004. This second volume describes his experiences flying the C-5 Galaxy aircraft for the Military Airlift Command from 1981 to 1993.

Lacklen grew up in Arlington, Virginia and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1969. He now resides with his wife in Vienna, Virginia outside Washington D.C., where he is writing the final book of his trilogy.

Jay provides his memoir as a voice for the thousands of airlift crew members who have lived the same military air transport saga he describes in detail. He also offers his experiences as one record of American military life during the last third of the 20th Century.