Colonel Lou Martin, USAF (ret.) Lou
Martin was born and raised in a small Midwest farming town in northern Wisconsin. He was the ninth of ten children of hard
working German, Scotch and Irish parents. He was thirteen years old when the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor and along
with other young men his age, he contributed to America's victory to the extent his young years would allow. Before the
war ended he collected scap metal, delivered Western Union Telegrams, worked as a railroad labourer and in a defense plant
A memorable event during the war years
when, as a fourteen year old, he delivered telegrams to families informing them that their loved ones were killed in action
or taken prisoner. He recalls that after being the bearer of such sad tidings he would leave lamenting family members with
tears in his eyes. He was working in Detroit, Michigan when the war with Japan ended and he recalls the victory celebrations
with clarity. When in Detroit, at the age of seventeen, he obtained a private pilot's license.
In 1948 the air force was once again
seeking aviation candidates, but it appeared he would not qualify as he did not possess the minimum educational requirement
of two years of college. However, the air force stated they would accept young men for pilot training if they could successfully
pass a two-year college equivalency exam. Along with eleven other young men from the Midwest, he reported to Chanute AFB to
be evaluated for acceptance for pilot training. Four of the twelve successfully completed the qualification requirements with
two graduating a year and a half later as air force pilots.
He spent the next twenty-two years
as an air force pilot, retiring in 1970 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He flew a variety of aircraft, including large
four-engine transports and single-engine jet fighters. A vigorous self-study program when a member of the air force allowed
him to obtain a BS degree in Military Science from the University of Maryland.
From 1970 to 1975, he flew as a captain
for Japan Domestic Airlines in Tokyo, Japan. His flying experiences in Japan were unique, as he flew a Japanese manufactured
YS-11 turbo-jet transport with Japanese copilots and Japanese flight attendants. His years with Japan Airlines included flying
with senior Japanese instructor pilots who had participated in the attack on Peal Harbor, December 7, 1941 and with former
members of Kamikaze squadrons.
From 1976 to 1979, he flew as a captain
for an air charter company in Tehran, Iran. On many of his flights in the Middle East, he transported the Shah's twin
sister, his youngest brother, and high ranking government and military officers. Flights ranged from transporting high ranking
Iranian VIPs to oil company roughnecks. He was caught up in the revolution that overthrow the Shah and made a hasty exit from
Iran when his life was in danger.
After returning to the US he worked
as a Falcon Fan Jet instructor in Napa, California, before accepting a position in 1980 as an air carrier inspector with the
FAA in New York. In 1983, he transferred to the FAA office in Minneapolis with duties as a DC-9, B-727, and B-747 pilot examiner.
From 1992 to 1996, he was attached
to the US Consulate Office in Frankfurt, Germany, where he served as the FAA Operations Unit Supervisor for the European International
Field Office. In this position he worked closely with foreign aviation authorities and made two trips to Moscow, assisting
Russian airlines in operating DC-10s and B-757s.
To round out his vast aviation
experiences, he became an active warbird pilot with the Planes of Fame Air Museum, where he flew restored World War Two aircraft.
Lou Martin retired from professional flying in January 1999 with a total of 19,000 accident-free flight hours. However, he
still flies his single engine Cessna and gliders with the Minnesota Soaring Club. Colonel Lou Martin is the author of Close
Encounters With the Pilot's Grim Reaper and Wings Over Persia.
According to the book description of
Wings Over Persia, it “provides a firsthand account of intrigue and adventure of an American
pilot flying in Iran, during the revolution which overthrew the Shah and installed Ayatollah Khomeini as Iran's Islamic
dictator. Lou Martin was an air force pilot for 22 years and a captain for Japan airlines from 1970 to
1975, before joining a small cadre of foreign pilots in Iran hired to fly a variety of aircraft throughout the Middle East.
His passengers ranged from family members
of the late Shah of Iran to high-ranking Iranian government officials, and oil field roughnecks. His observations relating
to these flights are outlined in thrilling chapter after chapter. He invites the reader to mentally share his cockpit during
these exciting flights. Captain Martin was living and working in Iran during the disturbing days of 1978
when Islamic hard-liners rioted in the streets of Tehran demanding the overthrow of the Shah.
The tempo of the revolution increased
to the point where thousands of demonstrators were killed by the Shah's army forcing him and his family to flee to Egypt.
His abdication allowed the firebrand leader Ayatollah Khomeini to become Iran's despotic leader, and form a ruthless fundamentalist
Islamic government. Several of Captain Martin's friends and colleagues were summarily tried and executed by the Islamic
During the peak of the revolution a
personal friend was stabbed to death by unknown assailants, and fearing for his own life he hurriedly left Iran. His exodus
forced him to abandon thousands of dollars of unpaid salary, a Volkswagen and other personal property. In
the spring of 1979 he was prepared to return to Iran in an attempt to recover lost property, but an extraordinarily lucky
event in Rome, Italy, convinced him that returning to Iran would very likely expose him to arrest and confinement. Faced with
this dismal probability he returned to the United States to pursue a safer and less exciting life.”
One reader of Wings Over
Persia said, “Lou Martin shares a rare view of living in a trouble land as a commercial aviator. Each
chapter is a story in itself, while revealing the larger picture of life in Iran during that country's best and worst
of times. Mr. Martin is a natural story teller and gifted writer. His story zeros in on the day-to-day problems and pleasures
he encountered in Iran, and puts them into perspective by giving the larger picture of Iran's internal and world politics.”
One reader of Close Encounters
With the Pilot's Grim Reaper said, it “presents a pilot's true story, in autobiographical
format, of close encounters he experienced during sixty years of military and civilian flying, plus encounters, some fatal
of aviation colleagues. With 540 pages and more than 80 illustrations. These photos embellish the reader's concept while
they accompany Lou as he reminisces, with remarkable clarity, his fascinating life. For those of you who have read his award-winning
book, Wings over Persia, you are in for another great read!”