Local author’s tale recalls thrill of flight

POULSBO — When Mike Granat’s son asked him for an account of his days as a Navy airman he did him one better — he wrote a book.

And although it took him two years to complete, the 82-year-old Poulsbo resident’s “The Golden Era of Naval Aviation: An Aviator’s Journey” is now available to the public. It is a true account of Granat’s life throughout his career in the Navy both before, during and after World War II.

Each chapter is a different tale of one of Granat’s many Navy assignments in areas like Monteray, Calif., Pensacola, Fla. and the South Pacific. As the story progresses, the reader watches Granat’s career and also sees the Granat family grow from a couple to a family of four. Granat said the book is just as much about his family as it is about his days as a fly boy.

“I tried to make it a mixture of what I was doing and also about the family,” he explained. “They were really dedicated to go wherever I was sent.”

Granat said one of the family’s favorite residences over the years — although they never thought it would be — was the tiny town of Adak, Alaska. The family was initially apprehensive about moving to the Last Frontier, but received the momentous experience of being the first Navy family to drive the Alaskan-Canada (Al-Can) highway to get there. Of the 2,300-mile trip from Miramar, Calif. to Fairbanks (There were no roads to Adak at the time), 1,500 miles were on unpaved roads.

“It was a good trip,” Granat recalled.

At the same time, Granat wrote his book as a sort of primer for Navy technology of the era. He recounts several stories of his part in trying out many of the Navy’s newest birds.

“In that span of years there were so many changes that took place, basically going from open cockpit biplanes to the end of the war when we moved into the jet age, there’s been nothing like it since,” Granat noted.

His career spans many intriguing experiences, including having his Dec. 7, 1942 transfer to a new post in Hawaii postponed because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Upon arrival nine days later he saw first hand the destruction from that assault.

Other memories are proud brushes with history. As a member of the famed Fighting Three squadron, where he was introduced to his all time favorite jet the F8F Bearcat, Granat filled an engineering officer position that had been vacated by Butch O’Hare (of the Chicago, O’Hare airport fame).

Another momentous occasion was flying with the Fighting Three on an experimental Navy flight demonstration team at the 1946 National Air Races in Cleveland to drum up new Navy recruits after the war. That was the first and last time his squadron filled the duty, but the team lived on.

“Today they’re known as the Blue Angels,” he explained.

Today Granat is retired from the Navy and he and his wife Helen keep themselves busy with art projects and writing. Helen has published two books and Mike does bronze sculpture and driftwood carving in his free time. Granat said he felt writing a book was a worthwhile endeavor to leave some stories for future generations. However, when asked if there are other books in his future he shakes his head.

“No way. I already have two years into this one. That’s enough for me,” he said with a chuckle.

Granat’s book is available on a print on demand basis through publishing company Trafford. To purchase copies, or read excerpts Online, go to

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