The fascinating diary of the WWII bomber and postwar test pilot (after whom Edwards Air Force Base was named) placed into context by Ford, a contributing editor at Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine. Although many WWII memoirs have appeared in recent years, Edwards's rises above the rest with his honest and captivating accounts of daily life for a combat pilot in Africa. Also excellent is Ford's commentary: He gives non-flying readers all the necessary technical information without attempting a course in aeronautical engineering. Edwards's training and combat career are interesting, but less colorful than his indoctrination into the first ranks of the army's test pilots (this in the days before the Air Force was formed). His accounts of jumping into any plane he could get near, and of hopping through the country in search of beautiful women--sometimes, even, Hollywood starlets--offer a unique perspective on the world just after the war, when multitudes of young men returned from overseas and the military pilot was just as much a symbol of glamour as the movie idol. Edwards himself was assigned soon enough to head the test program on the radical and ill-fated Northrop Flying Wing Bomber (he would be killed during testing). While at work on that, he contributed important findings to aircraft research and helped to change the position of test pilot from one offered to any skilled pilot to that of a highly trained scientist. Edwards's own words are skillfully interwoven with Ford's, offering a richly detailed account of postwar aviation--and the infant years of the military-industrial complex.