Carl Gamble, a premier airline pilot, has penned a remarkable memoir, a powerful story about his journey from the cotton fields of Madison County, Alabama, to the captain’s seat flying jumbo jets between North America and Europe. While in grade school, jet fighters flying over Madison from a nearby Air Force Base captured his attention. Gamble’s dream to become a pilot was born. Gamble’s disciplined and focused work overcame an inauspicious start studying aviation at Tennessee State University, a stepping stone toward a flying career for African Americans of small means in the 1960s.
The United States Air Force awarded Gamble its coveted Distinguished Flying Cross. His quick thinking and superior flying skills enabled him to land his C-47, severely disabled by enemy antiaircraft fire, and save the lives of his crew in Vietnam.
My Blue Yonder tells Gamble’s story by taking you to his boyhood home, into the cockpit of his crippled plane, and into his PTSD. You fly with him to rescue men adrift on an ice floe in Lake Superior, refuel combat aircraft at four hundred miles per hour over the Gulf of Tonkin, and negotiate with a hijacker while flying in a holding pattern off the coast of Florida.
A memorable quote passed through generations of pilots, and a favorite of Gamble’s, is, “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots.” Similarly, pilots have landed burning airplanes and pilots have dealt with hijackers. Gamble is potentially the first pilot to experience both.