Pathfinder Pioneer

The Memoir of a Lead Bomber Pilot in World War II

Colonel Raymond E. Brim USAF (ret.)

A revealing look at how ordinary citizens were plucked from the hardscrabble 1930s and hurriedly turned into flyers—young men then pitted against each other in deadly machines miles above the ground in Europe. Ray Brim led the way for thousands of his compatriots in the type of "total war” in the skies that we will never see again . . .
Date Published :
May 2016
Publisher :
Illustration :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003528
Pages : 312
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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In this engaging book we see how an 18-year-old miner shoveling ore from deep in the ground in Utah suddenly found himself, only two years later, 30,000 feet in the air over Nazi Germany, piloting a Flying Fortress in the first wave of America’s air counteroffensive in Europe.

Like thousands of other young Americans, Ray Brim was plucked by the U.S. Army to be a combat flyer, and was quickly pitted against the hardened veterans of the Luftwaffe. Brim turned out to have a natural knack for flying, however, and was assigned to the select squadron developing lead Pathfinder techniques, while experimenting with radar. He was among the first to test the teeth of the Luftwaffe’s defenses, and once those techniques had been honed, thousands of other bomber crews would follow into the maelstrom, from which 80,000 never returned.

This work gives us vivid insights into the genesis of the American air campaign, told with the humor, attention to detail and humility that captures the heart and soul of our “Greatest Generation.” Brim was one of the first Pathfinder pilots to fly both day and night missions leading bomb groups of 600-plus bombers to their targets. At the onset of his missions in the spring of 1943, B-17 crews were given a 50-50 chance of returning. Each of his raids were nerve-wracking forays into the unknown; with struggles to survive the damage to his plane due to flak and German fighter attacks, in order to bring his 10-man crew home, often wounded but still alive.

About The Author

Raymond E. Brim was born in 1922 in the mining town of Dividend, Utah where he grew up the son of the bookkeeper and the town’s only nurse. He studied political science at the University of Utah but dropped out to enlist in the Army Air Corps. He trained as a fighter pilot; however was assigned to a B-17 bomber, 482nd Squadron, where he flew missions over Germany during 1943 and 1944. As a Pathfinder pilot Ray pioneered radar technology leading both day and night raids as far as Berlin. Currently retired and living in Salt Lake City, Ray, at age 93, still enjoys recalling his days as a WWII pilot and later Air Force career, from which he retired as a Colonel.



Part I Dividend, Utah, 1922–1941
1. A Town Called Dividend
2. A Dividend Childhood
3. Down in the Mines
4. The Blind Date That Changed My Life

Part II The War Years, 1941–1944
5. Enlisting in the Army Air Corps
6. Learning to Fly
7. The BT-13 and the AT-6
8. Bomber Pilot
9. Going A.W.O.L.
10. Final Days in the States
11. Overseas
12. England at Last
13. Escape and Evasion Training
14. Mounting a Mission
15. Preparation
16. Mission One—Lorient Submarine Base
17. Missions Two and Three—The Piccadilly Princess
18. Missions Four and Five—Tested to the Limits
19. Missions Six and Seven—The Dutch Coast
20. Pathfinding in the Eighth Air Force
21. Time Off
22. Mission Eight—First as a Pathfinder
23. Missions Nine and Ten—Experimental Flying
24. Missions Eleven and Twelve—John Ford Gets Wounded
25. Mission Thirteen—The Bloody Hundredth
26. Missions Fourteen and Fifteen—The Milk Run
27. Missions Sixteen through Twenty—Counting Down
28. Mission Twenty-One—The Big “B”
29. Missions Twenty-Two through Twenty-Five—the Home Stretch 189
30. Special Orders

Part III After the War, 1945–1975
31. The Black Days
32. Project Sandstone
33. All Over the Map
34. The Aleutian Islands
35. An Air Force Career
36. Command and Staff College, and Afterwards



“Along the way he exposes the reader not only to much detail about the air war over Europe – including hours long missions under fire – and offers many little insights into commonplaces of wartime life and military service at the time, but also to life in contemporary America and Britain, punctuated here and there with some sly humor… this is an excellent personal account of the war as seen from the cockpit of a B-17.”

- The NYMAS Review

“In Pathfinder Pioneer, Brim exposes the reader to much detail about the air war over Europe. We learn precisely what a pathfinder did for a living, follow his experiences on hours long missions under fire, and get many little insights into the common place business of military life and service at the time. Brim also makes many observations about life in contemporary America and Britain, punctuated here and there with some sly humor… As a bonus, the book opens with a thoughtful foreword by the British-born granddaughter of one of Brim’s former crewmates who did not survive the war... this is an excellent personal account of the war as seen from the cockpit of a B-17.”

- StrategyPage

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