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Spear-Carrier in a Backwater War by Edward Larson

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“Our low position in the underslung cabin gave me a darkened view of the gravelly taxiway as we rolled toward takeoff position. There was also the hiss from the brakes and the ever-present up and down nose nodding that made this airplane such a delight. As the run-up began, I could mentally go through the checklist I had repeated so many times at Kirtland. One positive factor stood out in the face of this dismal journey: If the pilot and copilot died en route, there were sixteen other guys aboard who could fly this can...”

~ Ed Larson
Spear-Carrier in a Backwater War


Nominated for the 2015
Robert F. Kennedy Book Award

Lieutenant Edward Larson

Edward Larson was born in Seattle, Washington, on October 20, 1924. Due to the proximity of the Boeing plant and airfield, at an early age, he developed a confessed obsession with aviation and airplanes.

Before his deployment to China, Larson served as a single-engine flight instructor for the USAAF, including training members of the Women Auxiliary Service Program (WASPs). With termination of the flight-training program, he was assigned to a B-24 training program and then transferred to the China-Burma-India Theater of War as a copilot/pilot of transport aircraft.

In a singularly unique twist of fate, Larson copiloted the plane delivering Chinese generals to the signing of the agreement of surrender with the Japanese at the end of WWII.

At the conclusion of World War II, Larson worked for several years in Alaska on tow boats transporting salmon from the fishing banks to canneries spread throughout Southeast Alaska. He returned to college in 1954, obtaining a Bachelor's and Master's Degree, which lead him to a teaching career of 30 years.


Edward C Larson and his dog, Fiona

Photo by Patricia D. Richards. Copyright © 2014.
All rights reserved.


Ed Larson currently resides in Santa Cruz, California. He is an articulate and lively storyteller. In addition to his passion for all things flying, he is an accomplished artist and loves sailing. He has one daughter, two granddaughters, and five great-grandchildren.

Contact Ed here!






“I have enjoyed the pleasure of living during a time when the world has experienced vast and remarkable changes. This accounting is interwoven with many of those events. I hope, too, my story will serve to disclose what I regard as a wonderful and bizarre personal obsession. This malady invaded my mind at the first blush of reason and remains a compelling preoccupation well into the ninth decade of my existence. In truth, I have suffered a lifetime of manic devotion to airplanes and all things flying.


I am deeply grateful for this malady and now feel compelled to knit together the story of my confessed fixation and its rather remarkable effect on a life I regard as having been truly well lived. Scarcely twenty-one years before my birth, the Wright Brothers accomplished the miracle of powered flight on the windy dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In a miracle of progress, I have watched as another powered flight carried men to the moon. Between these two bookends of time, the pursuit of higher and faster has fired the imagination of entire generations, and mine in particular. This story will set forth the trivia of those wonderful days and years during which I spent more time looking up at the sky rather than down at my feet and where I was going.”




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