Black Lion One: TOPGUN Trailblazer Capt. John Monroe \"Hawk\" Smith in Command of VF-213

Donald E. AutenDonald E. Auten

Available July 2022


This historical biography of John Monroe “Hawk” Smith, Navy fighter pilot, is a gripping account of valor, sacrifice, and adventure during one of the most tumultuous periods in carrier aviation. It was no surprise when Hawk, having completed a stunning tour as commanding officer of TOPGUN, received orders to a frontline F-14 Tomcat squadron—VF-213, the “Black Lions.” Hawk joined the Black Lions prior to their March 1979 deployment. Several critical factors portended to a most arduous workup period and deployment—there were issues lurking. But Hawk was a man who did not shy away from a challenge. Soon, the Lions would have opportunities to show their colors. These included the first-ever Fighter Derby at NAS Miramar, California—the “World Cup” for naval fighter squadrons, and Constant Peg, a highly classified “Black Program” that exposed aircrews to the capabilities of Soviet fighters. Aviation enthusiasts and historians will be captivated by the historical fidelity and descriptive air combat engagements, amused by the perpetual mirth of TACAIR aviators, and inspired by lessons of leadership that apply to all walks of life.

Size: 6" x 9" | 32 color and b/w photos | 224 pp
ISBN13: 9780764363443

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Donald Auten, originally a Navy light-attack pilot, completed TOPGUN fighter and adversary courses to become an adversary instructor pilot. He is vastly qualified in the fighter war arts, having been assigned to four adversary commands and logging nearly 5,000 hours. He retired from the Navy as a captain (O-6), which included two commanding-officer assignments. Following his release from active duty, Don was on the staff of the commander, Naval Special Warfare Command (SEALs) in Coronado, California, as a future force planner and manpower technician. He is the author of Roger Ball! and Alika: Odyssey of a Navy Dolphin. Donald and his wife, Katie, make their home in western Wyoming.