Life Is a Piece of Cake

"Overall an excellent read. Provides great insight into the history of the Cold War, and in particular, the U-2 incident."

Francis Gary Powers, Jr., Founder, The Cold War Museum

About the author

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In search of his boyhood dream of becoming a fighter pilot, Don Wright enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1955. After earning his wings and working as an instructor pilot for several years, he was selected in 1965 as the 192nd man to fly the high-altitude reconnaissance airplane, the U-2, an honor so far afforded to just over 1,000 men and women.

If you would like Don to speak to your organization about the U-2 experience or other topics in this book, and/or if you have comments or questions about the material presented, please feel free to contact the author via the contact form.

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A Whisper from the Silent Generation

Pilots who have flown the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft have two things in common: the courage to take her up and the skill to bring her home. This is the story of Don Wright, U-2 pilot 192, and his journey from South Buffalo, NY, at the depths of the Depression to the stratosphere at the height of the Cold War.

From 70,000 feet, Don has experienced a view of the Earth that is breathtaking. From his perspective looking back more than seven decades, he offers a view of history that is both entertaining and enlightening.

This is a book you won’t want to put down. It is a book you’ll be happy for your children to pick up.

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Talk back - click below to add new comment

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Through the book, I've had such a great time telling stories, connecting and reconnecting with everyone! Please share your comments here about the book. I bet that you've got some good tales to tell, too.

J MacLean Says:
Wed, 08/28/2013 - 06:55

Captain Don Wright - Your book is a good read, interesting, fun, and we can all take some tips on the experiences and lessons in it. Yes, it talks about relatives and old friends..and values. It also has history and life lessons. I could see this book turned into a a movie, as there is lots of visual word pictures. Its spans a lot of time and experiences, which i found very interesting.I will add that I was fortunate to meet Don at a Canadian Toastmaster Club Conference (so fellow Toastmasters, (international as well) this is a good book to get speech ideas from!)about a decade ago. He and his wife Polly are "good people". Buy the book, read it...you will find something interesting in it for sure! I too read it twice, it's a big book!!

gerald e. haughey Says:
Sat, 01/01/2011 - 18:56

WHAT A RIDE! I was 57L at Spence, Bryan and Moody, flew dogs and L's in Georgia, England, Germany and even Tripoli (for a couple of weeks), later flew 84f's and 89's with the NJANG and PaANG, (while in law school) and then practiced law for forty years or so, fooling around in rare spare time with Pipers and Cessnas and Beeches and even owning a Mooney for a few years. But they were no substitute for the real flying experience. From time to time I find myself in conversations with other guys my age with significant military experience in their youth, and universally they agree (but without regrets) that the military years were their most significant and formative. What a joy to feel again that AB thrust when the throttle rounded the horn! God bless Captain Wright for this trip back to first principles.

Charles Christian Says:
Wed, 10/13/2010 - 06:52

I also thought it would be mostly a book for relatives and old friends when I started it. The more I got into it the more I realised how much I was enjoying the book as my life had many of the same experiences and/or associations that he did, such as living on two farms as a kid, going to a military academy, attended 13 schools in my youth, trouble with grades in school, marrying an airline stewardess, two years of college and then receiving a USAF Cadet appointment (went with CIA instead), working for an airline ( Passenger Agent, UAL), Foreign Service, U.S. State Dept (I retired from them) 2 tours in Germany, U-2 association, (CIA 12 years with 5 years in all of the spies in the skies projects overseas and U.S., including the last two U-2 overflights of the USSR while overseas) knowing Gary Powers, Jr., (I worked overseas with his mother with the agency circa 1960-61 and met him locally with his U-2 incident exhibit and speech) I had a MG/TC overseas while with the agency, we had three kids also.

Just by chance did I get to to know Don at the recent U-2 reunion at Beale AFB and Sacramento. I sat next to him and Polly at an old timers round table luncheon. Glad he mentioned his book and have just finished my copy of it.

Good read all the way around.

James "Phil" Pattie Says:
Thu, 01/28/2010 - 22:52

I started reading "Piece of Cake" with some reservations. I anticipated a life story intended for the authors family but as a friend I suspected it would be more than I needed to know. Indeed, it is a life story to be read by the family. But it becomes much more.

Don had a truly unique childhood, an adventure we can all enjoy. But as he chronicles his adult life he brings in events many of us shared, the draft, the cold war, Vietnam and the overriding love for many of us, flying.
The book invites us reflect on how our own lives have played out and in the end the book is not just but about Don's life, but our own. Thanks, Don.

James "Phil" Pattie Captain/NWA/ret

Ann Ulm Says:
Tue, 01/19/2010 - 19:59

I'd love to be able to share how reading your story has helped me, but YOUR the one with the WORDS... and God, Id love to be in your shoes with all of that humor, and knowledge at my fingertips.

Your writing is so much fun... reliving a part of my life that has been smouldering. Now, because I happened to be alive and living through some of your happenings, I find myself reliving it too. You won't believe this but since I finished your book..all over 500 pages....I decided to start again from the beginning, and digest more and more of it. I find it clears my mind from a lot of the stresses and unnecessary thoughts I can't do anything about. Your book relaxes me, and I am able to fall asleep peacefully.

Marcia L. Lightbody Says:
Fri, 08/21/2009 - 18:20

The author presents a picture of 1950s young adulthood and remarkable determination from early adolescence to overcome limitations of education and become a military fighter pilot. He succeeds beyond his dreams to be a US Air Force U-2 pilot. The book presents an extraordinary military and commercial flying career of 25,000 hours and his own courtship, marriage and supportive family life. The 1940s picture of a WWII childhood on a farm as a boarder for years loved by his "keepers" is WWII "make do" that worked.

The book presents the author's many training and flying experiences, also those of Francis Gary Powers and Chuck Maultsby, U-2 pilots of his acquaintance. The themes of long-term friendships, loyalty and lasting pleasure in his work are highly satisfying to read. A book for "the silent generation" of the 1950s and also the present day youth seeking goals and fulfillment. No easy fixes here--just "tough but doable", which is flying lingo for "A piece of cake."

T. A. Westhafer Says:
Wed, 12/30/2009 - 19:37

This guy taught me to fly jets at Williams AFB back in the early sixties. He was simply the best intructor I have ever run across and I have, after thirty-eight years of pushing throttles, had more than a few. No hip-boots are required with this blow torch jet jock. He is a man of honor and knows of what he speaks and says it well. He is married to one of the sharpest and nicest women I have ever met and I still don't know how he rated such a lady. The book is a good read. Give it a go.

TAW

Theodore Bucholz Says:
Sat, 01/02/2010 - 13:15

I met Don Wright as a pilot with American AirLines. We were both based in Buffalo,NY. We had somewhat similar flying experiences and flew some of the same aircraft in the USAF. The F-86D for one. His experiences from growing up in the Buffalo area, to all the Air Force flying and then American AL. are described very well. A great book and I recommend it to anybody interested in flying.

Ted Bucholz, AAL Capt.Ret.

Elaine E. Carlin Says:
Sun, 01/03/2010 - 22:30

Don Wright has been a good friend for many years. Jack Carlin and Don were classmates at Wentworth Institute for 2 years, 1953 & 1955. We studied Aircraft maintenance Engineering and we were pretty good at it, but it's probably best we learned to fly. Jack Carlin is the guy who took the Navy test with Don and Jim Miller, somehow Jack passed and they didn't. That much of the book is true for sure. Our paths crossed numerous times over the 54 years between graduation and now. A quick visit in Phoenix when he was instructing and I was working at Beech Aircraft, In Chicago O'Hare when we met him walking between flights, here and there over the years and it was always fun to catch up, reminisce and then we would go our separate ways. There were some reunions and then the big one when we got our honorary degrees at Wentworth in 2005 Our last meeting was at Sampson AFB in 2009. Don gave a wonderful speech and if any of you readers get a chance to hear him, he does a great job, it's worth the effort to go see him. The real surprise in this book is that we never knew he flew the U2 until recently. By the way I met his Grandmother, his mother, his step father and Polly. We will tell you this...Don is a great story teller, read the book.

Jack and Elaine Carlin

Peter E. Rodts Says:
Sun, 01/03/2010 - 23:12

I THINK THE STORY OF DON WRIGHT'S LIFE, ESPECIALLY THE FIRST 20 YEAR IS SO UNIQUITE THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE IN THE WHOLE WORLD HAVE HAD SUCH A EXPERIENCE. IT HAS CERTAINLY SHAPED HIS LIFE IN A WAY THAT HAS MADE HIM AN OUTSTANDING PERSON. HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD HAVE ATTENDED 20 SCHOOLS IN THREE DIFFERENT CONTINENTS BY THE TIME THEY FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL?

ADDITIONALLY, HIS LIFE AS A PILOT, CIVIL, COMMERCIAL AND MILITARY, AN AIRFORCE INSTRUCT0R, A U2 PILOT, AN AIRLINE PILOT AND A INSTRUCTOR OF AIRLINE PILOTS IS ALSO VERY UNIQUITE FOR ONE MAN.

I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED BOTH ASPECTS OF THIS BOOK, MR WRIGHT'S UNIQUITE UP BRINGING AND THE VERY INTERESTING AND COMPREHENSIVE AVIATION EXPERIENCES.