Foreword by LtCol Jeff Olesen, USAF

Don Wright, one of the relatively few pilots to have flown the spectacular U-2, is a high-altitude aviation pioneer. But Don’s view of life extends beyond the lofty cockpit vision of the Earth from above 70,000 feet. His experiences embody the American spirit of adventure, spun here in an entertaining tale I found hard to put down.

The U-2 was the first of America’s high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. It was conceived in secrecy during the height of the Cold War and built by a hand-picked team led by famous aircraft designer Kelly Johnson. For more than 50 years this sleek, aerodynamic marvel, often dubbed the Dragon Lady or the Deuce, has continued to play a role in our country’s military preparedness, yet there have been just over 1,000 pilots who have actually flown her. Don Wright, U-2 pilot 192, is one of them.

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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


From the time I was a kid, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most has been the opportunity to experience new places and to meet and talk with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. When I retired in 1994 after 11 years in the military followed by 28 years as a pilot with American Airlines, I soon found a new spot to use my unflagging curiosity and gift of gab: Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a nonprofit organization whose members work together to improve their communication and leadership skills, and I felt at home in my local chapter almost immediately.

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Prologue: 70,000 Feet and Descending!!!

The view was magnificent—a panorama of crystal clarity and brilliant hues. I could just see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon, and the land below appeared as a single dimension, a bird’s-eye view from one of the highest-flying aircraft in the world. My body was encased in a partialpressure suit and space helmet, standard gear for a flight into the stratosphere.

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