In one of the most defining moments in our nation’s history, President Richard Nixon ascended the steps of Army One, turned, and waved to the crowd on the White House lawn for one last time. Piloting Army One that day was Lt. Col Boyer, a senior pilot during the LBJ, Nixon, and Ford administrations.
Inside the President’s Helicopter
This book has it all: drama, humor, insights, suspense, surprise history lessons, and most importantly–heart and relevance. In INSIDE THE PRESIDENT’S HELICOPTER, LTC Gene Boyer and his co-author Jackie Boor reveal an intriguing inside look at public and private life in bed together. For 30 years as a collegiate writing instructor, I have urged students to strive to reach the reader on a deeper level. This book is a perfect example of that. Hooked on Boyer’s memoir from page one, I couldn’t put it down. Brilliantly researched, this narrative is so colorful and engaging, I often had to remind myself it’s not fiction–it’s a true story.
A Depression-era kid who dreamed about a career in professional football, Boyer instead applied his grit and fortitude to build a 21-year career as a decorated Army helicopter pilot. With tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam and nearly 7,000 flight hours under his belt, he flew U.S. presidents for ten years along with many U.S. dignitaries, world leaders, and celebrities, such as John Wayne and Winnie the Pooh.
Boyer and Boor do much more than drop names like Eisenhower, Westmoreland, Brezhnev, Sadat, Cronkite, or Steinbeck. They take the reader into the heat of the action in Venezuela, Italy, Ireland, Peru, France, Egypt, Hawaii, and Vietnam–where Boyer flew Nixon and the First Lady into a precarious combat region in 1969. The security details and advance preparation for such a trip are paramount for flying the President both inside and outside the United States.
We are privy to what didn’t make the headlines: weird flight assignments at LBJ’s secluded Texas ranch and witnessing first-hand Nixon’s collapse from the weight of Watergate. We see the precarious balancing act between military missions and political agendas. We learn about Boyer’s campaign to recruit the first African-American pilots into the Executive Flight Detachment and his determination to give the Army credit, where credit is due, for exemplary service to the White House, while sharing that assignment with the Marines.
This book challenges us to examine the values of anyone who serves our country whether as the President of the United States or his invisible helicopter pilot and to ask the question: Is there really a line that can be drawn between one’s public and private life? I highly recommend INSIDE THE PRESIDENT’S HELICOPTER to decide the answer to that question.
LTC Gene T. Boyer