New book release by Ray Wright: “If You Ain’t a Pilot…”

New book release date is August 13, 2016.



UXBRIDGE, MA – May 27, 2016 IYAAP BlogCockpit chaos and classroom camaraderie fuel the entropic adventures of Second Lieutenant Ray Wright and his fellow classmates of UPT Class 88-07 at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Though competing against one another for the flying assignments of their dreams, like the fearsome F-15 and F-16 fighters, a good mission sometimes takes a backseat to a good party or punch line in this classroom of cut-ups.

The high stakes, however, loom over Lt. Wright. In a program where one out of three students fails, not everybody who starts UPT will finish it. And not everybody who does finish will get a desirable flying assignment. Some won’t even escape the Columbus Air Force Base. Will Lt. Wright get his dream assignment flying a C-141 cargo plane based out of beachside Charleston, South Carolina? Or be forced to perpetuate the If you ain’t a pilot… system as the dreaded FAIP (First Assignment Instructor Pilot) in Columbus, Mississippi?

Though a military memoir, IF YOU AIN’T A PILOT… is a story of youthful innocence, a happy tale of the best of friends. Beneath the story’s surface layer of how an Air Force officer’s aeronautical rating determines his worth, similar thematic layers unfold around gender, race, and other ways people define each other.  At its core, my story is about people, our relationships, and how we choose to treat each other.  While 30 years have passed since the memoir’s events—and our aircraft, our enemy, and our pop-culture ties have changed—we still struggle with our differences.

That said, my primary mission in writing IF YOU AIN’T A PILOT…is to make you laugh.  If you don’t say, “Ow!  Ow!  My stomach hurts!” or call, “Knock it off!” while reading this book, I haven’t done my job.  U.  Unsat!

As we get closer to August 13th, please come back to my website for more details on the launch of my new book, IF YOU AIN’T A PILOT….





This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Jen Semle

    You have a DATE of release!!!! Wahoooo!!! I would like to pre-pay for a signed copy for the Semle Family!!!
    Congratulations Mr Fighter Pilot ! We are so excited for you.

    1. Raymond Wright

      Thanks, Jen. I picked August 13th because it would have been my father’s 83rd birthday. He passed away several years ago, and I know he would have liked to have seen the release of this book. I look forward to learning what you think of it. Take care, Ray

  2. Deanna Wright

    Faith, family, and friendships, you were blessed with the love of all these gifts. You left home two weeks after your high school graduation, an eighteen year old boy to enter the USAFA and several years later you came back a man. “I have the aircraft.”

    We are all so proud of you Ray, loved the book!


  3. Jonas

    I listened to the book. I know I missed my true calling in life. Damn lack of being able to see color. Anyway, I enjoyed it wasnt as good as Iron Eagle but close. I do have a question, what did you do after your FAIP assignment?? Did you get your dream assignment driving trucks out of charleston or did you get stuck in an OV-10 flying CAS, or maybe a boring F-16 out of shaw? I look forward to hearing from you.

    1. Raymond Wright

      Hey, Jonas! Thanks for listening to my story. Not to give away the ending to book three of the FAIP Mafia Trilogy, but after four years as a FAIP, I took an early-out, which was offered shortly after Gulf War I. I served the remaining three years on my UPT commitment in the Reserves as a recruiter for the Air Force Academy and AF ROTC. I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and for the next one, I’ll aim to make it as good as Iron Eagle. – Ray

  4. Jonas

    Thanks for the quick reply. I really did enjoy the book very much! I have read about every story like yours I can get my hands on with Jim Haun’s “spitfire wingman from TN & Robin Olds biography being in the top 3. I honestly believe yours is probably the most entertaining I have came across. I really enjoy all the detail and attention to procedures. Do you have any old maps or charts of the MOA’s you can post on here? I am looking forward to the next book and I would like to buy a patch.
    Much better than Iron Eahle

    1. Raymond Wright

      Here’s an attempt to link you to a couple of area maps. I haven’t tried this on this website before so I’m not sure if it will work, but if it does, “SouthernMOA” is just southeast of Columbus, where we flew in the T-37, and “Echo” is northeast of the base, where we flew T-38 formation rides.


      I wish I had some patches left. If I order some new ones, I’ll post about it somewhere on the website.

      Thanks again,


  5. Rainer Otter

    Thanks for the amazing memory of Your UPT. I finished Your book yesterda and really enjoyed it. It made me think again about my UPT at Sheppard AFB, Crew 76-09.
    I still remember the T-37 Crewroom very good, but don’t remember our T-38 Crewroom in the same way.
    How important the character of the IPs were, with long lasting effects, is amazing.
    My T-37 IP, Capt Byrd, was an “odd bird”. Only a few loved to fly with him.
    I was assigned to him and well prior my C-9 Check he told me: “Rainer, if You fly with me, You will make it through UPT”.
    It gave me that much selfconfidence, it worked!
    Many years later, when I was an IP for WSOs and young pilots, I did exactly the same: After some rides I told my students: “If You fly with me, You will make it…”
    It gave them so much confidence.

    I would love to know, how UPT is done today? Young people (unfortunatly, we didn’t have women pilots in 1976) changed a lot.

    Do they still distinguish in the air, between “forbidden and strictly forbidden”?
    Strictly forbidden I never did!

    Check six!
    Rainer Otter
    Colonel ret. German Air Force

    1. Raymond Wright

      Hello, Colonel!

      Thanks for reading my story, and thank you for sharing your UPT memories here. A lot has changed since our time. The T-37 is gone, the T-38 has been upgraded, and a new jet trainer will be in place soon.

      One thing that will never change is having young people who dream of skies to conquer. Let’s hope their IPs are cool!

      Yours truly,


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