The "Old Man" of Vietnam MiG killers--Robin Olds, the son of aviation pioneer Maj Gen Robert Olds--grew up with airplanes in his blood. He attended West Point and, as captain and starting tackle for the Academy football squad, was named to the 1942 all-American team. After completing pilot training in 1943, he immediately went into combat with the Eighth Air Force flying P-38s and P-51s in Europe. By the end of the war, General Olds had flown 107 combat missions and was officially credited with 12 aircraft shot down and 11 1/2 destroyed on the ground. After the war, he cofounded and flew with the Air Force's first jet acrobatic team, and, flying the P-80 in 1946, he placed second in the Thompson Trophy race in Cleveland.
On 12 June 1946, he took part in the first round-trip transcontinental airplane flight completed in one day. When he was chosen to command the famous Number 1 Squadron at Tangmere, England, in 1948, he was the first American ever to command a regular Royal Air Force squadron. After varied flying commands in the United States, West Germany, and Libya and some years of service at the Pentagon, General Olds took command of the Eighth Tactical Fighter Wing "Wolfpack" at Ubon, Thailand. After returning from Vietnam, General Olds served as Commandant of Cadets at the US Air Force Academy and as Director of Aerospace Safety at the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center.
The painting shows General Olds in his F-4C Phantom, "SCAT XXVII," getting the first of his four kills in the Vietnam conflict. The MiG-21 was downed on 2 January 1967 when General Olds, leading the most famous fighter sweep of the war (Operating Bolo), shot down one of seven MiG-21s claimed that day against no American losses. As a wing commander in Southeast Asia, General Olds flew 152 missions of which 117 were over North Vietnam.