BY DON SORCHYCH | NOVEMBER 20, 2013
With Christmas right around the corner what better gift than a book? Arizona citizens have a great opportunity since the legendary Jerry Foster has completed the book of his life, titled “Earthbound Misfit.” The book cover shows Foster with a helicopter in the background. The subtitle, boldly printed on the front cover, states “The heroics, antics and controversies of a pioneering television news pilot reporter.” Foster is all that and more. The book is a complete dossier of his life and what a life it was.
I had the good fortune to buy Foster’s Cave Creek home in 2000. The north section of the 10 acre ranch includes a concrete helipad with an imbedded belt buckle emblazoned with SKY12, his brand when flying and reporting for Channel 12.
A couple of years ago Foster asked Shari Jo and me to come and visit his “museum” at his summer home in Show Low. His museum consisted of reams of newspaper clippings, photographs, audio tapes and videos, letters and articles, a complete record of a busy and varied life.
Foster shared with us a deep held secret he carried all his life, which governed his actions at every change of employment. That secret was discussed and complete honesty was agreed all around. The secret is not used as a carrot until the last chapter; it is in the prologue before you launch into the chronology of a fascinating life.
As sad as a 17 year old’s misstep can be, Barry Goldwater said it best when he was asked about Foster’s issue, “…that happened a long time ago when he was just a kid. I did the same thing as a kid, I just didn’t get caught. He is a grown man now and I’m proud to call him a friend.” Goldwater thought so highly of Foster he devoted a chapter in one of his books to Foster and his experiences with him.
The book is 587 pages long and took nearly three years to complete. I believe Foster signing up for Facebook and the wonderful response from so many friends and fans goaded him to tell his one of-a-kind stories.
Many authors would be delighted to have the outpouring of affection you will see in the 11 kudos displayed on the first pages. Here are some examples:
Jerry Foster’s volunteer support of the Sheriff’s Office was invaluable, culminating in the success of many searches and rescues. Jerry spent much of his time working with youth inspiring them to be better citizens. Jerry’s good work and volunteerism will be long remembered in Maricopa County.
Dick Godbehere – Maricopa County Sheriff. 1985-88
Hero or Hellion; Trailblazer or Hell-raiser, Jerry Foster lived his life large. An early mistake and quest for redemption motivated a life of energy, service and American spirit. Read this book.
Barbara Barrett – Former Ambassador to Finland
Jerry is truly one of the most unique characters ever to hit television news - one of a kind. His passion and determination to be first with the best either drove you crazy or drove you to new heights of news coverage – it all depended on the day.
Jim Willi – Principal and Senior VP of Multimedia Innovation and former KPNX News Director
Jerry Foster and Sky 12 were one and the same. God help anyone in the way of getting the story. He defined television news in the Phoenix valley, setting the bar for every other news operation in the U.S.
Al Buch – Former KPNX News Director
Without question, Jerry’s passion to serve, along with his unbelievable pilot abilities, saved the lives of many people during the time he assisted the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office. He was always there, ready willing and more than capable of making a difference in so many search and rescue operations, it’s hard to detail them in a single book. After we became good friends through the years, I saw how deeply and personally Jerry took each mission. He never gave up and was the driving force in his life – and ultimately in mine.
Larry Black – Former Deputy Chief, MCSO
Jerry Foster’s honesty in telling his story tugs at your heart. From his devastating lows to the euphoric highs, he has lived it all. An ordinary guy and almost unwilling celebrity, Jerry lived his “both sides of the street” as only he could.
Fred Dees – Former Police Chief, Gilbert Arizona
As this book reveals the events that shaped his life, it soon becomes apparent that Jerry Foster’s ego was tempered by the demons that chased him relentlessly. His actions made him a hero, his honesty makes him human.
Laura Swearingen – Author, We Were Army Wives
How to sum up flying six years, seven days a week with Jerry: “If you aren’t good, stay home …” When we took off we seldom knew what we would encounter or even if we would make it back. It was an inherently dangerous job, in an era with few limitations as to what we could do with a helicopter. Jerry did not just fly a helicopter; he strapped it on and became one with it. Absolutely an “A” game pilot who was always at his best when the situations were the most dangerous.
Brain Neumeister – Certified Audio and Video Forensic Expert and former KPNX Photographer
Whether or not you are one of the thousands of Jerry Foster fans, Earthbound Misfit is a book worth reading. It is about a life lived to its fullest. During his twenty years as a helicopter pilot and reporter in Phoenix, Foster participated in news, but more importantly, in countless rescues, spending over 20,000 hours in the air. You will read an honest portrayal of his aspirations, fears and accomplishments. He is truly a modern hero and fondly remembered by legions of people who followed his flights and heroic rescues.
Don Sorchych – Publisher and Editor, Sonoran News
Jerry Foster is a true America hero. I worked with Jerry in the early 1980s. In addition to our news gathering duties, Jerry and I were volunteer divers with the sheriff’s office and assisted with search and rescue activities on lakes and rivers. I’d film it all, then, we did live reports from the helicopter for “Action News” later. These are the scenes that make this book a must read for a window in time when helicopter news gathering was being established.
Chuck Emmet – Former KPNX photographer
The book is $18.53 at Amazon. Do yourself a favor and read it.