Turn and Burn

A Fighter Pilot’s Memories and Confessions

By Darrell J. Ahrens, Lt. Col. USAF(ret.), Call Sign: “Curly”


Available on Amazon



Turn and Burn: A Fighter Pilot’s Memories and Confessions

In “Turn and Burn” the author takes the readers with him in the cockpit as he shares the fulfillment of his boyhood dream and some of his most memorable adventures and misadventures during a twenty-four year flying career as a fighter pilot, both in combat and peacetime. Share the author’s emotions when being surrounded by enemy anti-aircraft flak, when having to crash land twice, during occasions when the aircraft’s response was violent and uncontrollable, when having a large turkey buzzard crash through the windscreen into the cockpit when the aircraft was 200 feet off the ground and traveling nearly 600 mph, just to mention a few of those memorable occasions the author shares.

Along the way, the readers are given vivid accounts of the joys and delights, the fears and terrors, the frustrations and fulfillments, the thrills, intensity, and humor involved in the fighter pilot’s unique life, and the special and inseparable bond that exists in the fighter pilot community. The author’s account is also deeply personal as he shares his opinion of the top leadership, both civilian and military, during the Vietnam War. His criticism is shared by the vast majority of those who fought in that war, and includes the leadership’s lack of understanding of the enemy, a prime requisite when going to war, their lack of will to do what was necessary to win, a prime requisite when going to war, and worst of all, their unconscionable willingness to allow the U.S. military to suffer substantial losses in personnel and resources by fighting a war they were not allowed to win.

The author’s pride in being part of the fighter pilot community can be summed up by the final phrase of a poem about military aviators written by an unknown author that goes, “Because we flew, we envy no man on earth."

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About the Author

Darrell Ahrens is a former U.S. Marine, Air Force fighter pilot and operations staff officer, high school teacher, and pastor. He holds degrees from Chapman University, Boston University, and Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as diplomas from the Armed Forces Staff College, the Air War College, and the National Defense University.


“Turn and burn” is fighter pilot jargon that refers to flying the jet to the edge of its performance capability, and even beyond, with speeds ranging from the stall to the supersonic, with engine afterburner roaring at full power, with gut-wrenching high G forces maneuvering, with the aircraft enveloped in the condensation that accompanies those G forces. In other words, it refers to the most violent flying, with both the jet and the pilot operating at maximum testosterone levels.


Jan-2021 Bestseller Screenshots (Number 1 in three categories)

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