By Larry Whitesitt
World War II Diary by Phyllis Shauvin
The Story of Spokane’s World War II Flying Heros
"We had just leveled off at approximately 800 feet above ground and I was on Lt. Gumm’s wing. His plane seemed to stop and he called me and said his engine quit. He started gliding to the left, looking for an open field. ... Lt. Gumm could have bailed out and saved his own life, but he chose to fly the P-51 to the ground so it wouldn’t crash into the village."—Excerpt from Chapter 1
As Bill began his turn, his B-17 and the others were attacked by ME-109s and FW-190s. Bill said, "Number one engine out, fire between one and two engines ... we became a glider and sank below the other B-17s and lost their protection. I ... ordered the crew to bail out. I stayed at the controls ... and then I jumped. Out of the 11 crew members, only five survived. I landed on top of a mountain in the Alps and hurt my leg but was able to walk. ... I walked 7 miles down the mountain to the timberline, and I didn’t know where I was. As I walked down the trail I came upon two guards and a civilian in a suit. I thought they were Germans and reached inside my flight jacket to get my revolver, but the man in the suit yelled in English, ‘Don’t shoot! You’re in Switzerland!’ He was a newsman."—Excerpt from Chapter 9
About the Author/Compiler
Larry Whitesitt is shown here with his grandson Daniel Whitesitt, who videotaped the interviews and took some of the photographs for this book. Larry has had a passion for airplanes and flying since he was a boy. He was born in 1938 in Spokane, Washington.
After a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy on the oil tanker U.S.S. Hassayampa AO-145 in the late 1950s, he married, had a son, and learned to fly. He moved to Canada in 1964 with his family. His dream was to build a cabin and live off the land in the wilderness.
During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a bush pilot in British Columbia, the Yukon, and Northwest Territories in Canada. His first book, Flight of the Red Beaver, was published in 1990. The book recounts his adventures flying de Havilland Beaver float planes and ski planes. His second book was Northern Flight of Dreams (Marquette Books). He now lives in Fairfield, Washington, near Spokane. He is semi-retired and enjoys hiking, kayaking, and flying with his three grandchildren.
202 pages / Paperback / 7 x 10 format / 50 photographs / Copyright 2006 / Includes CIP Data / ISBN: 0-922993-31-9 (paper) $34.95