Capt. Don Wright

Speaker Services, Motivational Speaker

Contact Info

Phone: 603-763-4390
Availability: New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York; Northeast USA; National, International

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Topics: Aviation, Career, Inspirational, Leadership, Motivational, Military, World War II, College Speaking, High School Speaking, Youth Groups

Area: New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York; Northeast USA; Nationwide, Worldwide

Titles: Author, Military Pilot, Airline Pilot, Toastmaster


InfoBest-fit Audiences:PresentationsBioTestimonialsBooks
U2 pilot and American Airlines captain (retired) entertains and inspires with riveting stories from personal experience and first-hand accounts from fellow pilots on the frontlines of America’s unforgettable conflicts.

What’s it like to fly the U-2 spy plane or an F-86 jet fighter? What did U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and the airmen who saved America from nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis confide to their pilot friends? If your group loves aviation and its heroic stories, Captain Don Wright will keep you on the edge of your seat with thrilling tales drawn from his 50-year aviation career. “Aviation makes for great stories,” says Don, “because failure to do the right thing at the right moment can result in death and destruction.” And, he points out, the solutions and strategies used by skilled pilots to save the day can be applied to almost any personal or professional challenge.

A U-2 pilot for two years, Don Wright heard first-hand stories from colleagues like Francis Gary Powers, the pilots involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and other famed aviators who shaped American history. As a child, Don lived and breathed aviation. His mother and grandmother helped build the P-40 fighter during World War II, and his family followed the heroic exploits of the famed Flying Tigers, inspiring him to become a pilot. “A passion to fly fighters was lit and the fire never went out,” he says.

It’s been said that pilots who’ve flown the U-2 have two things in common: the courage to take her up and the skill to bring her home, and Captain Wright keeps your audience thoroughly entertained as he recounts daring adventures drawn from personal experience and that of aviation’s mavericks and heroes. Speaking with passion and authority, his humorous, motivating talks inspire your audience to meet any challenge. The risk-takers of aviation confronted problems that demanded quick thinking, self-reliance and smart strategies, and courage and motivation are built into all of Don Wright’s talks. “Pilots come up with solutions that can be applied to almost any business or personal situation,” he points out.  

Your audience will leave Captain Don Wright’s thrilling presentation with newfound appreciation for the heroic aviators who played key roles in America’s unforgettable conflicts, proud of these patriots who shaped American history, and eager to apply their courage and determination to any life challenge.  

Best-fit Audiences

  • Aviation, Military, and Historical Groups
  • Corporations, business groups, non-profits
  • Baby Boomers, Millennials, retirees
  • Community organizations
  • Colleges, universities, schools, youth groups
  • Parents, educators
  • Business and civic groups
  • Travel companies
  • Political and historical groups/associations
  • Churches, synagogues, religious, Christian groups
  • Libraries, museums
  • Rehab centers, recovery support groups
  • Women’s groups, career women


Offered as keynotes, breakouts, seminars or workshops, retreats, trainings and Webinars and always customized for your group. Captain Wright is also available as a panel guest or moderator.

Flying the U-2 Spy Plane

Have you ever wondered how, when and why the U-2 was developed or what a high altitude mission involves? Do you know what vital information the U-2 provides the government and the military? We’ll never know how many battles have been won or lost because of what info was known or not known, but this eye-opening talk reveals riveting, behind-the-scenes stories from Captain Don Wright’s experience flying the U-2 as well as first-hand accounts from famed pilot colleagues like Francis Gary Powers and others. You’ll hear inside stories told to Don by the airmen involved in the Cuban Missile crisis and learn how close we came to nuclear destruction, had it not been for these pilots who risked their lives to get the intelligence that guided our leaders and averted disaster.

Maverick General Claire Chennault and the Daring Flying Tigers of WWII

During World War II, irascible, obnoxious, military genius Claire Chennault, put together a rag-tag group of fighter pilots dubbed “The Flying Tigers,” who shot down 300 Japanese aircraft and destroyed 150 planes on the ground in just eight months. It took almost two years for the rest of the American air forces to exceed that total of victories. Chennault, a giant of the era, was a true maverick and born leader who had the courage of his convictions and whose tactics are still used today. You’ll learn how he broke all the rules but gained President Roosevelt’s backing in one of the most important stories to come out of World War II. If your group needs inspiration or motivation, the heroic saga of General Chennault and his daring Flying Tigers proves that anything is possible and any obstacle can be overcome.

Meet Captain Don Wright…

Born in South Buffalo, New York, in the depth of the Great Depression, Don Wright grew up to be the 206th pilot chosen to fly the famed U-2 spy plane, an honor that fewer than 1,000 pilots have achieved. At age 8, he was sent to live on a farm with strangers who became lifelong friends. At 12, he traveled alone to post-war Europe, and at 15 he learned how to survive in the wilds of Mexico. Three continents and 20 schools later, he finished high school in Japan, always dreaming during his turbulent childhood of becoming a fighter pilot.That dream came true when, at age 21, he joined the U.S. Air Force, earned his wings, and flew the F-86 fighter jet. In 1965, after serving as an instructor pilot on the T-33, T-37 and T-38, he was chosen to fly the top secret U-2 spy plane.

At 70,000 feet, Don has seen the Earth from a unique perspective. His book, Life is a Piece of Cake, recounts his aviation adventures in the military and later as a captain for American Airlines, giving readers a fascinating inside glimpse into a pilot’s military and civilian career against the backdrop of world history.

What people are saying…

Coming soon!


Books by Captain Don Wright

Life is a Piece of Cake

Product Details

Pilots who have flown the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft have two things in common: The courage to take her up and the skill to bring her home. This is the story of Captain Don Wright, U-2 pilot 206, and his journey from South Buffalo, NY, at the depth of the Depression to the stratosphere at the height of the Cold War. At 12 he traveled alone to post-war Europe, at 15 he learned how to survive in the wilds of Mexico. Three Continents and 20 schools later, he finished high school in Japan. In between, he dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. He joined the U.S. Air Force at 21, earned his wings and flew the F-86, the jet of his dreams. In 1965, after serving as an instructor pilot on the T-33, T-37, and T-38, he was chosen to fly the U-2.

At 70,000 feet, Don has seen the earth from a unique perspective. In this engaging memoir he offers a different perspective—the tale of one man’s life against the backdrop of history.


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