In Contrails over the Mojave, Marrett takes off where author Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff ended in 1963. Marrett started the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB only two weeks after the school's commander, Col. Chuck Yeager, ejected from a Lockheed NF-104 trying to set a world altitude record. He describes life as a space cadet experiencing 15 Gs in a human centrifuge, zero-G maneuvers in a KC-135 "Vomit Comet," and a flight to 80,000 feet in a Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. After graduating from Yeager's "CharmSchool," he was assigned to the Fighter Branch of Flight Test Operations for three years. There he flew the Air Force's latest fighter aircraft and chased other test aircraft like the X-15 rocket ship and the XB-70A Valkyrie as they set world speed and altitude records.
Marrett takes you into the cockpit with him "going vertical" in a T-38 Talon, high-G maneuvering in an F-4C Phantom and wet runway landing tests in the accident-prone F-111A Aardvark. Marrett relives stories of crashes when his test pilot friends were killed. He writes about Air Force test pilot Col. "Silver Fox" Stephens setting a world speed record in the YF-12 Blackbird and Lockheed test pilot Bob Gilliland flying a single-engine, minimum-control speed stall in the SR-71 spy plane. He recounts dead-sticking a T-38 to a landing on Rogers Dry Lake after a twin-engine failure and conducting dangerous tail hook barrier testing in a fighter jet without a canopy. Marrett also writes about a UFO sighting in the night sky above the Mojave Desert, a mysterious sighting now referred to as "The Edwards Encounter."
George J. Marrett flew 188 combat missions in the Douglas A-1 Skyraider in Vietnam and tested more than forty types of military aircraft in twenty-five years as a test pilot for the Air Force and Hughes Aircraft Company. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and of the Board of Trustees, National Test Pilot School Mojave, California. He is the author of Howard Hughes: Aviator; Cheating Death: Combat Air Rescues in Vietnam and Laos; and Testing Death: Hughes Aircraft Test Pilots and Cold War Weaponry. Now retired, he lives in Atascadero, California.
~Praise for Contrails over the Mojave ~
"George Marrett has done it again! Contrails over the Mojave is a must have book for every lover of aviation. Marrett writes as well as he flew, which is to say with authority, accuracy, punch, and color! The wonderful thing about Marrett is the amazing way he puts you in the cockpit of a complex Mach 2 aircraft and makes you understand just how far he is pushing the envelope."
—Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), author of the Smithsonian Book of Flight, former Director of the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum, and a Member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame
"George Marrett's Contrails over the Mojave is a major contribution to the literature of flight testing and flight research. Rich with anecdote and insight, it illuminates some of the most significant aerospace programs of the 1960's, a time when America was locked in a no-holds-barred struggle for supremacy with the Soviet Union, and Edwards Air Force Base—the nation's premier flight test center—was grappling with Space Age challenges and training test pilots to meet them."
—Dr Richard P. Hallion, Verville Fellow, National Air and Space Museum and former Historian of the Air Force Flight Test Center
"George Marrett's Contrails over the Mojave is not only a fitting tribute to fellow test pilots who 'gave everything' in service to their nation, it also provides a unique and fascinating insider's account of an extraordinary period in the history of Edwards Air Force Base when the limits of time, space, and the imagination seemed to be expanding on an almost daily basis."
—Dr. James O. Young, Chief Historian, Air Force Flight Test Center, and author of Ad Inexplorata: The Evolution of Flight Testing at Edwards Air Force Base
"If you want to know how a modern test pilot is trained and then applies that training, this is the book for you. George Marrett explains this in the same readable style as his previous three books. You will live and die with these pilots as they perform their dangerous probing of the boundaries of new aircraft's envelopes. I recommend it highly."
—Donald S. Lopez, former Air Force test pilot, author of Fighter Pilot's Heaven: Flight Testing the Early Jets and Deputy Director, Naval Air and Space Museum
"Marrett's exceptional ability as both a test pilot and writer make Contrails over the Mojave a fascinating must-read for anyone interested in the 'Golden Years' of experimental aircraft flight testing at Edwards AFB. He puts the reader right in the cockpit with him and other testing icons during these thrilling and challenging times!"
—William Anders, Lunar module pilot, Apollo 8
"George Marrett is that rare individual who is not only an expert on his subject—from flying experimental jets to training to be an astronaut—but he's also a wonderfully talented and intuitive writer who will keep you up late at night with the power of his words. It's a toss-up as to whether he's a better pilot or a better writer, but the reader is the winner and Contrails will further enhance his legacy as a top flight military author."
—Wayman Dunlap, Editor, Pacific Flyer Newspapers, Inc., The Voice of Aviation