Jim Brink, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, has been interested in airplanes since about 1926 and started flying in 1937 in a Lincoln-Page J-1.
Jim enlisted in the US Air Force and was soon assigned to the 382nd Fighter Squadron, training on the Bell P-39 Airacobra. He had aerial gunnery training at Ajo, Arizona, in January of 1943
In late November 1943, for two weeks, Jim was Squadron Commander, 382nd Fighter Squadron and also Base Commander Hayward Army Air Field, California. Jim says: "It is really difficult, now, for me to imagine how a twenty year old Second Lieutenant with only nine months of Commissioned Service, could be given all the responsibility that job entailed."
He spent some time as a test pilot in the Accelerated Service Test Branch at Wright Field and flew Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51B Mustang, A-35 Vultee Vengeance and P-39N Bell Airacobra aircraft.
In Europe, Jim flew P-51D escort and dive-bombing missions. On June 18, 1944 his plane was hit by antiaircraft fire. He says "I managed to get back over England and then the engine caught fire and I parachuted to safety.... I had an injured left foot, it had hit the horizontal stabilizer during bail out." He flew his next combat mission 4 days later.
Then came a tour of duty in the Pacific as an instructor in P-40s and P-47s. Jim was awared the Distinguished Flying Cross by General Vandenberg August 24, 1944.
After the war Jim flew P-80s, F-84E's and F-86s in Gernmany. His last assignment out of Pope AFB, North Carolina was flying C-130Es all over the world. Jim retired from the Air Force in 1968 after "a wonderfully fulfilling career during a momentous age in history". His log book shows over 10,000 hours.
Jim Brink (L) and instructor John Schnieder, Ajo, January 1943.
Jim Brink, Hayward Army Air Field, November 1943.
Dr. Ed Garber has been building and restoring antique aircraft since 1960 and has donated several aircraft to museums such as the Heath Super Parasol N88EG c/n 41919 at the Florida Air Museum at Sun 'n Fun, Lakeland. He and Jim are close friends. Ed has a large collection of photos which he "loaned" to Jim to scan and prep for displaying on Jim's and this web site.