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Palos Park pilot to talk about the time he bought the Nicaraguan Air Force

The cover 'So I Bought an Air Force.' | Supplied photo

The cover of "So I Bought an Air Force." | Supplied photo

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Updated: December 17, 2013 1:54PM



In March 1963, William Martin was looking for a fresh start. The Tilden Tech High School and Bradley University graduate had been forced to liquidate the family business, a specialty vehicle dealership, because of an oversight in a leasing contract.

Down on his luck and nearly out of money, the Palos Park resident spied an ad in Trade-a-Plane newsletter announcing the Nicaraguan government was selling its fleet of P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt planes. He knew he’d found a new business venture.

In a newly released book, “So I Bought an Air Force,” Martin recounts his three-year tale of adventure, mishap, danger and intrigue ferrying planes between Latin America and the United States. He dealt with shady characters, made some lifelong friends and survived more than one crash.

Martin said he began work on the book two years ago.

“I never intended to write a book,” he said. “But we had a lot of photographs, as well as notes, bills and records. A number of people suggested it would be an interesting book.”

Though he said he is fearless in terms of his physical safety, he’s glad he waited four decades to put his story down on paper.

“If I’d written it back then, I’m sure I would have used stronger language,” he said.

Martin, who holds a commercial pilot’s license, has performed in many air shows, including the Chicago Air and Water Show. He will speak about his flying adventures at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday during a dinner and book signing event at Francesca’s Vincinato, 12960 S. LaGrange Road, Palos Park.

Donation for the dinner is $50 per person. Proceeds will benefit the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center capital campaign to add gallery, classroom and performance space in the cultural center, 9602 Spring Road, Palos Park. Call (708) 671-0648 to reserve your space.

“So I Bought an Air Force” (Two Harbors Press) is available on Amazon.com.



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