Archives For History

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to

Adolph “Sailor” Malan

That’s right, another flyboy.  And another fighter ace just like our friend Pierce McKennon.  Sailor Malan was a South African pilot with the Royal Air Force during World War II.

Malan began his military career as a teenager at the South African Merchant Navy Academy, which is where he got the nickname “Sailor.”  But in his 20s he learned how to fly a plane, and shortly afterwards he enlisted in the RAF.

Throughout the war Malan and his Spitfire kicked some serious Luftwaffe ass.  As part of 74 Squadron he provided air support during the evacuation at Dunkirk and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.  During the Battle of Britain, Malan led 74 Squadron to an unprecedented 38 downed enemy aircraft in just one day.

A fearless and unorthodox pilot, Malan compiled a list that he called “My Ten Rules for Air Fighting”—which may as well have been called “My Ten Rules for Pilot Badassery.”

  1. Wait until you see the whites of his eyes. Fire short bursts of one to two seconds only when your sights are definitely “ON.”
  2. Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of your body: have both hands on the stick: concentrate on your ring sight.
  3. Always keep a sharp lookout. “Keep your finger out.”
  4. Height gives you the initiative.
  5. Always turn and face the attack.
  6. Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best.
  7. Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area.
  8. When diving to attack always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as a top guard.
  9. INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE, and TEAM WORK are words that MEAN something in Air Fighting.
  10. Go in quickly – Punch hard – Get out!

I believe I’m getting a touch of The Vapors just reading this.  Is it hot in here or is it just him??

Malan retired from the RAF as a top fighter ace with 32 confirmed kills.  He went home to South Africa and founded an anti-Apartheid group called the Torch Commandos, in order to “oppose the police state, abuse of state power, censorship, racism, the removal of the Coloured vote and other oppressive manifestations of the creeping fascism of the National Party regime.”  The Torch Commandos were in existence for only a short time.  But Malan remained an outspoken opponent of Apartheid government until his death in 1963.

If he had been any hotter he would have burst into flames.

This was inspired by Mooselicker, who mentioned both Dr. Seuss and Abraham Lincoln in a comment on my last post.  It gave me the idea to rework the Gettysburg Address as a Dr. Seuss poem.  I like to think Lincoln would have appreciated it.  And the message is just as relevant today as it was in 1863.


‘Twas eighty and seven years past, so they say
That our founders created the US of A

With all of us equal!  The Wuggles!  The Fuzzins!
And even our naughty Confederate cousins!

Now there’s a war and it’s bad and it’s sad
But a time will soon come when we’ll all be quite glad

That our nation still stands and our country’s still here
And we’ll all drink a toast with a mug of Sneetch beer

These bravest of soldiers did not die for naught
We need a do-over to do what we ought

So let’s have no more of this Civil War folly
And remember our government’s purpose, by golly

Of people!  By people!  For people!  Yes!
But right now this country’s one heckuva mess

I want for this country a sort of rebirth
So all these nice freedoms don’t perish from Earth.

This lovely lady is our newest Hot Dead Chick in more ways than one—she’s the newest addition to the Weebles family, and she’s also the most recently deceased. She died on October 13, 2009, which makes her the youngest member of the gang.

Margaret Ann Hamilton Tunner

Photo from the Woman’s Collection, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

I have a particular soft spot for her because she was a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II. The WASP were civilian women who volunteered to fly military planes in support of the armed forces; while the men were at war there was a shortage of pilots on the homefront, and these women answered the call. They ferried new aircraft from the factories to the air bases, served as test pilots, and taught the fellas a thing or two about having the Right Stuff.  I had the privilege of meeting a few of these trailblazing women several years ago when I was working on a museum exhibition about the WASP.

When she joined the WASP in 1943, Tunner had already been a licensed pilot for several years. As a WASP she had the distinction of checking out on the most sophisticated aircraft, including the P-51, P-47, and P-39 fighters and the B-17 and B-24 bombers. Not all of the women were rated to fly all of these planes; Tunner was one of the few. That makes her even hotter, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Now here’s the sucky part. By the end of 1944, a lot of male pilots were coming home from the war and they wanted to take over the work that the WASP were doing. So Congress abruptly and unceremoniously ended the WASP program. And because the WASP were civilians, they received no military benefits after disbanding. To add insult to injury, they had to pay their own way back home. Basically the government said, “You’re on your own, ladies—good luck with that.” Douchebags.

These heroic women were forgotten for more than 30 years. But in 1976, the US Air Force finally started accepting women for flight training and the press referred to them as “the first female pilots.” Former WASP pilots swarmed (you should pardon the pun) the media to set the record straight.

In 1977, Tunner and several of her fellow flygirls went a step further and appeared before Congress to demand that the WASP be acknowledged as a military entity. With the help of Senator Barry Goldwater, who had been a pilot himself during WWII, they succeeded in getting Congress to grant them veteran status with all of the benefits attached. The WASP finally received the recognition that they should have had so many years earlier.

Tunner continued to fly until the end of her life, and her obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch tells a very cool story.  For her 78th birthday she was granted special permission to co-pilot an F-15. Before the flight, the pilot asked her if she preferred a conventional takeoff or a rapid takeoff using the fighter jet’s afterburners. She chose the rapid takeoff. Kickass!

Here’s to you, Margaret Ann. You were gorgeous, but more importantly, you got it done. Thank you.

In the end, it was barely a contest. Sorry, Gary.

It seems fitting that Pierce McKennon is our newly crowned Hottest Dead Guy; he was a pilot during World War II and we just celebrated Memorial Day. We’ve reflected on his hotness, but let’s also have a round of applause to honor Captain McKennon for his heroic military service, shall we?

Click here for my original post on Pierce—and for additional information, click here for a nice biographical piece on him.

For all of you ladies and gentlemen who prefer the ladies, we will have a Hot Dead Chick Sweet 16 Tournament very soon, I promise.

And for everyone who voted for Pierce, here are some additional photos for your enjoyment:

We’re going to make it a little more interesting for the final round. For this one, you can vote as many times as you want. Go crazy.

And because it’s a holiday weekend here in the US, voting will be open until 11:59pm Eastern time on Monday, May 28th. Vote early, vote often!

We’re down to the wire here in the Hot Dead Guy Sweet 16 Tournament… I suspect many will be shocked and/or saddened to learn that Rupert Brooke will not be vying for the title of Hottest Dead Guy. And I’m sad about Yeats, but let’s face it, Gary Cooper is a tough guy to beat.

Here’s how the voting went—PollDaddy is acting up again so you may have to click to see the results. The Cooper/McKennon Throwdown will be taking place shortly.

So we have two epic matchups here.

Polls will be open until May 22th, at 11:59pm Eastern time.

Robert Cornelius was knocked out of the running in the quarterfinals. How could this happen? Sure, Rupert Brooke was a handsome fella, sure, but more handsomer than Robert Cornelius, the dreamiest dreamboat ever? HOW COULD THIS BE??

Even Mr. Weebles said, “Well, the other guy was pretty good looking.” Et tu, Mr. Weebles?

Look at this face. LOOK AT IT:

How much more dreamy could a man be? The answer is none. None more dreamy.

Below are the matchups for the semifinals. Sigh. I’m going to take a short recess before opening up the polls, because I need time to find an appropriate Victorian mourning gown and a veil.

Thanks to all who voted in the preliminary round of the Hot Dead Guy Sweet 16 Tournament. The results are in!

Some of the races were closer than I expected, with only two real landslides. Please click here to see the final tallies. (NOTE: PollDaddy is misbehaving so my apologies if the results aren’t readily visible.)

I’m sorry to have to say farewell to Lord Nelson and Messrs. Mallory, Donne, Mitchell, de Valera, Lister, and Throckmorton. It especially pains me to see the Duke of Wellington go because I was really rooting for him. But obviously Gary Cooper is an even more formidable opponent than Napoleon. And the games must go on.

Polls will be open until 11:59 tomorrow night. This is sure to be one of the most exciting Hot Dead Guy Quarterfinals EVER!

We’ve seen 16 historical hunks so far. So let’s make things more interesting, shall we?

I was never interested in March Madness but these are the kind of brackets I can get excited about:

There are eight choices below. Photos of all 16 gentlemen can be found just under the poll. Select which historical hotties you’d like to see advance to the next round. Voting is open until 11:59pm Eastern time on Sunday, May 13th, and results will be posted as soon as possible.

And to refresh your memory about our contestants, here are their photos again for your convenience and consideration: