EDWARD LARSON has been an adventurer most of his life. Although he grew up in Seattle, he spent his summers on Alaska towboats transporting salmon from the fishing banks to canneries spread throughout Southeast Alaska. At the age of 17, with America entering WWII, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps, completing his basic and CTD training in Lincoln and Des Moines, preflight training at Santa Ana, Eighth Army Air Forces flight training at Visalia (Sequoia Field), and twin-engine advanced school at Stockton Field with his fellow members of Squadron 44-D.
In October 1944, Ed transitioned to a B-24 training program at Kirtland Army Air Field; then on Christmas Eve 1944, he was ordered to the China-Burma-India Theater of War to transport much-needed bombs, ammunition, and barreled aviation fuel to fighter groups operating against the Japanese. While serving overseas, he flew C-109 and C-87 aircraft before falling in love with the purr of the C-46’s twin R-2800 engines.
Following the war, Larson returned to Southeast Alaska, once again working the fishing boats. His first book, Spring Tides: Memories of Alaskan Towboats, is based on those experiences. In 1954, he re-entered college and earned a master’s degree, which led to a thirty-year career in education.
Along with his itch for adventure, Larson’s passion for writing and illustrating crystalized as a young boy. Now, at the age of 94, he has amassed a considerable body of critically acclaimed work—writing and illustrations that have appeared in literary journals, magazines, and other publications; his artwork is widely collected. In 2018, he published his sixth book, Leaves from the Autumns of Yesterday, a collection of short stories, poems, and drawings. Set in the sweeping landscape of Montana, on the majestic, often perilous waters of Alaska, along the coastal lands and waterways of California, and in the skies over China and the Far East, it tells the stories of people Ed Larson has lived with and loved.
Ed Larson currently resides in Santa Cruz, California, where he remains active, occasionally attending air shows and sharing his experiences with enthusiastic audiences. He has two granddaughters and five great-grandchildren. He still loves writing, illustrating, and flying, and he still knows how to tell a great story.
“I have enjoyed the pleasure of living during a time when the world has experienced vast and remarkable changes. This accounting is interwoven with many of those events. I hope, too, my story will serve to disclose what I regard as a wonderful and bizarre personal obsession. This malady invaded my mind at the first blush of reason and remains a compelling preoccupation well into the ninth decade of my existence. In truth, I have suffered a lifetime of manic devotion to airplanes and all things flying.
I am deeply grateful for this malady and now feel compelled to knit together the story of my confessed fixation and its rather remarkable effect on a life I regard as having been truly well lived. Scarcely twenty-one years before my birth, the Wright Brothers accomplished the miracle of powered flight on the windy dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In a miracle of progress, I have watched as another powered flight carried men to the moon. Between these two bookends of time, the pursuit of higher and faster has fired the imagination of entire generations, and mine in particular. This story will set forth the trivia of those wonderful days and years during which I spent more time looking up at the sky rather than down at my feet and where I was going.”
~ Ed Larson
Photograph of Edward C. Larson by Patricia D. Richards. All rights reserved.