Monday, March 2, 2015

Book captures a daredevil’s life

From page B5 | March 27, 2013 |

Forgotten Aviator

"Forgotten Aviator: The Adventures of Royal Leonard"

Between the covers

Subscription Required

Thank you for reading the digital edition. In order to continue reading this story please choose one of the following options.

Current Subscribers
If you are a current subscriber and wish to obtain access to, please select the Subscriber Verification option below. If you already have a login, please select "Login" at the lower right corner of this box.

Subscriber Verification

Special Introductory Offer
For a short time we will be offering a discount to those who call us in order to obtain access to and start your print subscription. Our customer support team will be standing by Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm to assist you.

Call and Save! (530) 344-5000

If you are not a current subscriber and wish not to take advantage of our special introductory offer, please select the $12 monthly option below to obtain access to and start your online subscription


If the name Royal Leonard is unfamiliar to you, it’s not surprising. Leonard, a legendary pilot, who pioneered blind flying, introduced celestial navigation to TWA, became Chiang Kai-shek’s personal pilot in the 1930s and flirted with the fame that seemed to elude him.

Leonard began his flying career with the likes of Charles Lindberg, Jackie Cochrane and Col. Claire Chennault in the 1920s.

He was a transcontinental mail pilot regularly flying over the Rocky Mountains where weather conditions often necessitated blind flying. He participated in some of the first air races and flew a wide variety of aircraft.

During WORLD WAR II, Leonard flew “the Hump” from northeastern India over the Himalayas to China. Called the “Skyway to Hell,” the Hump was considered the most dangerous aerial transport in the world and Leonard flew it in monsoons and at night.

Sacramento author Barry S. Martin captures Leonard’s daredevil style and strong personality in his description of Leonard’s years of flying in China over poorly mapped and war-torn land, dodging Japanese aircraft and bullets during both the Sino-Japanese conflict and WWII.

Martin’s interest in Leonard began after he and his wife, Carolyn, returned from a trip to China in 1988.

“I wanted to know more about Americans who had been involved in China,” said Martin, ” so when I got back I went to Beers Books and I found Royal Leonard’s book, ‘I Flew for China.’ ”

Leonard’s book about his experiences in China ended in 1941 and Martin, captured by Leonard’s exploits, wanted to know what happened next.

“I checked the Library of Congress and other places, but couldn’t find anything,” said Martin. “I knew he came from Los Angeles and one day, when I was at the Burbank airport, I looked up his name in the phone book.”

A Royal Leonard was listed, but it was Leonard’s son. Leonard died in 1962, but Martin met with Leonard’s son, ex-wife and family members.

For the next 20 years, Martin worked on the book, compiling research and trying to consolidate Leonard’s adventurous life into a format readers would appreciate.

Although Martin is not a pilot himself, the details of routes, instrumentation, flight obstacles and aircraft are meticulous enough to meet any aviation buff’s standards and Martin provides excellent reference material.

“He was an amazing character who did many incredible things and I could have written a 500 page biography,” said Martin. “Once people read his whole story, they want more of it.”

Martin has just finished the first draft of a new biography about Bob Davies, the first basketball player to dribble behind his back in college games. Davies went on to take the Rochester Royals to the NBA championship in 1951.

“He was also the role model for the Chip Hilton series of boy’s sports novels and a sub commander in WWII,” said Martin.

“The Forgotten Aviator” can be purchased online from the author’s Website,, at Barnes& and in softcover and Kindle version.

Locally, the book can be found at Face in a Book in Town Center in El Dorado Hills. Martin, a former Social Security administrative law judge, will be doing presentations and book signings. His next presentation will be at 7:30 p.m., May 23 at the North Natomas Library in Sacramento.



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .


    Victim dies months after invasion

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Heard over the back fence: Rebecca rolls

    By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

    Suspects sought in Tahoe assault

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

    King Fire restoration plan in the works

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Drought update given at EID meeting

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

    ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee': Five generations continue sweep biz

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A3 | Gallery



    Home country: Peak performance

    By Slim Randles | From Page: A4

    California Rambling: Carnaval de Québec

    By John Poimiroo | From Page: A4

    Mark Shields: America truly needs the New Hampshire Primary

    By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4



    Charlie Black’s letter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    Sharing accurate information

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    Jeep Corp. and Mark A. Smith

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    In regards to the letter, ‘Cutting in line’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    Fire ‘Fee’ repeal

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



    Three Bruins, Trojans reach Rabobank

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Schedule: Mar. 2-7, 2015

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

    Oak Ridge boys come up short

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Trojans advance to D-I semis

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Roundup: Mar. 1, 2015

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

    Heartbreaker for Ponderosa

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery



    Nothing but the best for Café C

    By Julie Samrick | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Foothill dining: Make-ahead Celtic classics

    By Mccormick And Company | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Stephan Hogan’s dream comes true

    By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Film ‘Fed Up’ screens at the Cozmic Café

    By Coalition For Change | From Page: B2

    Gold Trail Odyssey of the Mind heads to state

    By Gold Trail Union School District | From Page: B3

    Old Farmer’s Almanac wants your recipes

    By Old Farmer's Almanac | From Page: B3

    California State Fair names new chief wine judge

    By California Exposition And State Fair | From Page: B3

    As we were: All’s well

    By Ken Deibert | From Page: B4

    Discover thrifty fashions at luncheon

    By Christian Women's Connection | From Page: B4



    Crime Log: Jan. 27-30

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

    Lake Levels: Feb. 26, 2015

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

    Building permits 2/2-6/2015

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



    Ralph A. LaRosa

    By Contributor | From Page: A2


    Real Estate