About the Book:

When lifelong artist and World War II (WWII) B-17 pilot Ben Smotherman was shot down over Holland in July 1943, he was soon captured and interrogated by the Luftwaffe at Dulag Luft. Upon being transferred to Luftwaffe camp Stalag Luft III, he found himself a prisoner of war (POW), held captive with countless other men who ached for a connection to home and freedom.

During his time in captivity, Ben kept his Wartime Log to chronicle his daily life—with the unique inclusion of beautiful watercolor paintings and pencil drawings. In addition, he applied his talents to create PENNY, an engaging and well-loved comic strip following a female war correspondent of the same name. This comic strip not only entertained and enthralled his audience with each new issue—it gave them hope.

Ben Smotherman’s experiences and artistic renderings are masterfully captured in Jan Davis’s Air Born: Artistic Musings of a WWII Pilot and POW. In this companion piece to Air Born: Two Generations in Flight, readers will get an inside look at what it felt like to be a POW during WWII. Although Ben couldn’t freely describe what he and his fellow POWs endured while in captivity due to censoring, this book paints a comprehensive picture with his Wartime Log paired with Jan’s contextual explanations. Further, it depicts each of the ninety-seven PENNY comic strips that Ben developed and illustrated himself. Without a doubt, this second Air Born volume is a don’t-miss read for anyone interested in the history of WWII.

About the Author:

Born at Patrick Air Force Base and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, Jan Davis has been surrounded by aviation and space her entire life. She followed up her biomedical engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology with a mechanical engineering degree from Auburn University and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. During her career, she worked for Texaco and for NASA before being selected as an astronaut in 1987. Davis flew on three Space Shuttle missions and continued her NASA career in the Senior Executive Service. After her retirement from NASA, she went on to become an industry executive and subsequently published her debut book, Air Born: Two Generations in Flight, in 2023. Now a consultant and speaker, she also enjoys traveling, quilting, exploring the outdoors, and working with her non-profit organization, AstraFemina, to encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

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