Jim Brink, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, has been interested in
airplanes since about 1926 and started flying in 1937 in a Lincoln-Page
Jim enlisted in the US Air Force and was soon assigned to the 382nd
Fighter Squadron, training on the Bell P-39 Airacobra. 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.
Dr. Ed Garber has been building and restoring antique aircraft since
1960 and has donated several aircraft to museums such as a Heath
Super Parasol 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.
Jim Brink (L) and instructor John Schnieder, at Ajo, Arizona, where
he had aerial gunnery training in January of 1943.
This photo was taken in late November 1943, at that time, for two
weeks, I was Squadron Commander, 382nd Fighter Squadron and also Base
Commander Hayward Army Airfield. It is really difficult, now, for me
to imagine how a 20 year old 2nd Lt. with only 9 months of
Commissioned Service, could be given all the responsibility that job entailed.