Gil Rud

Gil Rud, a North Dakota native and Blue Angel legend, has written a book.

It all began on a farm near Portland, North Dakota. Then there was the sky and the sea. Gil Rud, a Traill County farm boy, has an incredible story to tell decades later. A Blue Angel pilot, boss, and aircraft carrier captain can now add author to his resume. “From the Prairie to the Pacific — A Blue Angel’s Journey,” by Gil Rud, will be released in a week. Kevin Wallevand, a WDAY News Reporter, has been following the pilot’s career since the early 1980s. They met again on Thursday, August 26.

PORTLAND, N.D. (AP) — Talk about going back to your roots. Gil Rud and his childhood friends visited the one-room country school in rural Portland, North Dakota, where it all began for Rud.

“Wasn’t it a granary for a couple of years?” he inquired as they entered the school.

Rud, who will soon turn 78, is incredibly attached to his hometown, particularly the boys he grew up with while playing basketball in the old Portland High School gym.

“You had to behave because the teacher was in charge of, say, first grade, and the eighth and seventh graders were actually teaching the first and second graders,” Rud explained.

Rud’s extraordinary life and work are now chronicled in his new book, “From the Prairie to the Pacific.” What an adventure.

From North Dakota State University football in the 1960s to Navy pilot in Vietnam and later, commander of the Blue Angels, he has done it all. Rud’s trademark moustache was one source of contention.

“So I went down there with my red moustache, and because the Blue Angels are all clean shaven, kind of like the New York Yankees, I said, ‘I don’t have any chance of getting this (job), so I’m not going to shave my mustashe off,'” Rud explained.

“A month later, I get a phone call from the Admiral, and he says, ‘You’re the guy, (…) but you better shave that moustache off tonight,'” Rud explained.

In 1985, WDAY News was in Florida when the town of Portland came down for the Blue Angel ceremony.

“I think it’s especially fitting that they came to see this chance of command because these people know the Gil Rud of old, and maybe the Gil Rud of new, but they’ve seen me as less than a total success,” Rud said in 1985 at the Blue Angel appointment covered by WDAY TV in Florida.

Rud brought his Blue Angel team to Fargo for an incredible homecoming Air Show in 1986.

“Hi, Mom? How are you doing, sir? “While at the Air Sho, Rud greeted his mother.

The book details Rud’s close calls and brushes with death while flying around the world.

His time as captain of the USS Constellation is also discussed in the book. During Operation Desert Storm, WDAY News spent several days on board the ship in the Pacific Ocean with Rud.

“It’s really fun for me. It comes with a lot of responsibility, but like any other job with a lot of responsibility, they surround you with a lot of good people “In 1994, while aboard the USS Constellation, he told WDAY TV.

These and other stories are all based on his experiences at home. Rud still owns the family farm and the rolling hills that surround it. He won’t let go of that, or the close friends he’s had for years.

Despite living on the west coast, he returns frequently. This country life is ingrained in him.

“I can tell you that it hasn’t changed him, he’s always been the same way,” said Rud’s friend Richard Fugleberg.

“We’ve been to South America and Australia together. It’s a friendship that has lasted a lifetime “Roger Erickson, Rud’s friend, said

Rud is a proud father because he and his daughter Val hold a world record.

“We both have 100 landings on the same aircraft carrier, the (USS) Enterprise,” Rud explained.

He’s met presidents and movie stars, but Rud feels at ease in Portland. Rud is at ease on the plains after exiting the plane.

“The problem was that it was still an active pasture, so there (were) cow pies everywhere,” Rud said, looking around his family’s farmland and laughing.

Rud’s new book will be released in the first week of September. “From the Prairie to the Pacific” is available both online and in stores.