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Hagerty Employee

A fighter pilot tells us what the real Top Guns drive to work

John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force flying in a Spitfire squadron in Britain during the Second World War, wrote eloquently of having “[S]lipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; … wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence” and “flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.” Though he was tragically killed in a midair collision at the tender age of 19, Magee's poem “High Flight” remains a favorite of pilots the world over. What his moving prose fails to adequately describe is the stark brutality of aerial combat. It’s akin to a knife fight in a phone booth, only with the combatants’ knives worth multitudinous millions of dollars.


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Intermediate Driver

Excellent. Another vote for more from this fine contributor.  One small quibble: “...the Kawasaki GPZ900R Tom Cruise drove along the runway...”; you do not “drive” a motorcycle— you “ride” it. 

Intermediate Driver

Wow! A Dodge truck and grandads Jeepster?? Im a fighter pilot at heart,who knew?? 🙂

Pit Crew

As an USAF retiree and Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) washout - nice article. I will say in my experience Air Force base parking lots had more sport cars than your average business lot. In the flying squadrons age and marriage status had a lot to do with what was driven. Single guys were way more likely to have a hot car. Senior Officers with grown kids also seem to have hot cars. In my day USAF Academy grads got deals from the local Chevy dealer on Vettes. So at UPT base that had a lot Academy Grads there were alot of Vettes. You mentioned High Flight my "dollar ride" (first flight) in a T-38 Talon my instructor quoted the entire poem while doing acrobatics in the cloud formations. Very cool. The thing I learned that help with my driving skiles is to keep you head on a swivel and your eyes moving. The second best is your mind has to be several miles in front of the aircraft. If you only keep of with the vehicle you are to late in your reactions.


Great insight into a world we otherwise would never have known about. I agree, sign this guy up!

Intermediate Driver

bored of going fast... the thought makes me shudder. i'll stick to my desk job

Pit Crew

What, no Kawasaki Ninjas?




































Oh HELL ya...bring on more from "Josh Arakes"...and hopefully he ain't a Squid....

Pit Crew

Not only a brave defender of our nation and freedom, but a competent and enjoyable scribe as well! Thank you for your service!


Wow my smile is large, as I recall my own pilot training and cars. I started flight school in a cool Honda Prelude and finished in a cooler 1983 911SC.  Great memories 

callsign CASHMAN

Intermediate Driver

Still love to see the fighters of the 177th "scramble" out of ACY when we are in the area. Had some "close encounters" with the big boys in flying as a private pilot. Was once vectored 500ft above a C5 at 3500 by the tower at Dover AFB. Cruising at night around 1800 AGL, I had a C141 run directly under me, on the deck, in the NJ pines at night near MIV (probably in an MOA). Even saw a Super Hornet nearly standing still, on its own thrust, a few hundred yards off the beach in ACY. And then, while taking pictures of the rear end of an F117 at McDill in FLA, the nice man in camo with the automatic weapon explained that THAT area could not be photographed. O.K. with me. 

Somehow I loved (and miss) the awesome, in your face, reality and responsibility of flying. Any adrenaline junky can relate to that! As you might have guessed, I will absolutely be following  Josh Arakes writings!

Thank you Sir.