Punching Out features a unique collection of firsthand stories of the rare individuals who have been baptized by rocket fire, pushed beyond the edge of endurance, and experienced face-to-face encounters with their own mortality. These are the pilots who have survived high-speed ejections and lived to tell their stories to a new generation. Except for aerospace technical research, manuals, and periodicals, this is intended to represent the first major body of work on this subject from an experiential perspective. Many of the pilots whose stories are contained here are among the most famous names in the history of aviation. But for each, on that fateful day, fame was of no use. Their lives hung in the balance...from long silk parachute lines.
Preceding these awe-inspiring stories of ejection survivors are various pages taken from the past: pilots who bailed out and survived, before there were ejection seats. It is their sacrifices, and their experiences, which has led to future generations who can count on this life-saving equipment in that instant of stark terror and confusion known as punching out.
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James Cross is an Air Force veteran who has worked as a broadcast journalist and independent producer since starting at PBS in 1978, going on to produce the first-ever series on test pilots for the Discovery Channel/TLC and also programs for The History Channel, Dateline NBC, MTV, PBS, and many more.