Martin Caidin (September 14, 1927 – March 24, 1997) was an American author and an authority on aeronautics and aviation.
Caidin wrote more than 50 books, including Samurai!, Black Thursday, Thunderbolt!, Fork-Tailed Devil: The P-38, Zero!, The Ragged, Rugged Warriors, A Torch to the Enemy and many other works of military history. He wrote more than 1,000 magazine articles. Caidin established his own company to promote aeronautical subjects for a young audience and began writing fiction in 1957.
Caidin's 1964 novel Marooned, tells the story of an American astronaut who is stranded in space and NASA's attempt to rescue him. The novel was the basis for the movie Marooned made in 1969. The movie starred Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, David Janssen, James Franciscus, and Gene Hackman.
He twice won the Aviation/Space Writers Association award as the outstanding author in the field of aviation. Among his other honors, he was made an honorary member of the U.S. Army's Golden Knights parachute demonstration team; flew for several months with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squadron; and set the world record for the number of people deployed for a wing-walk — nineteen — on one wing of an airplane on November 14, 1981.
Caidin had many aviation adventures. He was one of the people involved in the rescue and resurrection of the Junkers Ju 52 No. 5489 that would become famous on the Warbird circuit as Iron Annie. He was one of the pilots that flew what will likely be the last-ever formation flight of B-17s across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to England (via Canada, the Azores and Portugal) in 1961, a trip that involved a near-miss with a submarine, a brawl with KGB agents, and just barely missing ending up in jail in Portugal, an epic trip he chronicled in his book Everything But the Flak. He wrote what has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration as the standard aircraft manual for the Messerschmitt Bf-108. He flew as a pilot in the movie The War Lover. He was also one of a very few pilots ever to take a Junkers Ju-52 off in less than 400 feet.
Caidin's style of fiction focused on acceptable projections of technical innovations with political and social repercussions. In this respect, his work has some echo in the writing of Michael Crichton. One recurring theme is that of the cyborg — the melding of man and machine, epitomized in the use of replacement body parts called bionics. Caidin references bionics in his 1968 novel The God Machine, but most famously based his novel Cyborg (1972) on the concept. Cyborg became Caidin's most famous work when it was adapted for a top-rated television film in 1973 and formed the basis of the television series The Six Million Dollar Man and its spin-off, The Bionic Woman. Caidin himself wrote three sequels to Cyborg —Operation Nuke, High Crystal and Cyborg IV — that differed considerably from the television series version. Years later, Caidin would revisit bionics in a tongue-in-cheek manner for his novel Buck Rogers: A Life in the Future (a reinvention of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) in which the title character is given bionic parts after being revived from a centuries-long coma. A remake of The Bionic Woman, titled Bionic Woman debuted on NBC in 2007; unlike the original series, on which Caidin was given screen credit for the series being “based on” Cyborg, no such credit was included in the 2007 series.
Martin Caidin is also known for having restored the oldest surviving Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, which he named Iron Annie, to full airworthiness. Following his death, Iron Annie was sold to Lufthansa, which renamed her the Tempelhof. Lufthansa flies her today as a VIP ship and for special charters. An account of Caidin's adventures with 'the corrugated cloud' can be found in his book about the warbird restoration movement, Ragwings and Heavy Iron. A much more in-depth account of the acquisition, restoration, and adventures with “Iron Annie” is in Caidin's book The Saga of Iron Annie. His experiences with Iron Annie's resurrection were also drawn heavily upon for his book Jericho 52.
In the mid-1980s, Caidin hosted a series of one-hour confrontational talk shows titled Face to Face. The raw subject matter challenged many of the extreme right wing and hate groups that were being operated covertly in the United States. The shows were co-written and produced by Bob Judson and were produced at the Nautilus Television Studios outside of Orlando, Florida. On the air Caidin challenged Matthew F. Hale (head of the American Nazi Party, who followed George Lincoln Rockwell), Rabbi Meir Kahane head of the Jewish Defense League (assassinated a year later in a hotel lobby in New York), Dick Butler from Aryan Nations, journalist Charlie Reese, John McMann from the John Birch Society, and many others. Caidin was a friend of 1960s talk show host Joe Pyne and utilized the same “gloves off” interview style coupled with in-depth research and intelligence gathering.
Also in the mid-1980s, Caidin began claiming to have the psychic power of telekinesis; specifically, to be able to cause movement in one or multiple small tabletop “energy wheels,” also known as psi wheels. Parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach, a friend of Caidin's who sometimes accompanied him in demonstrations and workshops, reiterated a strong endorsement of him in his June 2004 Fate magazine column: “Martin Caidin was capable of moving things with his mind.” Magician James Randi offered to test Caidin's claimed abilities in 1994. In September 2004, Randi wrote: “He frantically avoided accepting my challenge by refusing even the simplest of proposed control protocols, but he never tired of running on about how I would not test him.”
Caidin also taught a progressive journalism course at the University of Florida in Gainesville titled “Caidin's law”.
On page 82 of Caidin's novel, Cyborg IV (Warner Books: May 1976. Library of Congress # 74-80703), the character Steve Austin referenced back to Caidin's own previous novel, Marooned: “A friend of mine wrote about it — did you ever read the book, Marooned?”