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Watch Me Take Off

The Life of Ian J. (Jim) Duncan

ISBN 978-0-578-38437-5

Library of Congress Control number: 2022904168

For young Ian, flying airplanes seemed like an unreachable dream. His parents, poor Scottish immigrants, had left their homeland in the 1920s with the hope of a better life in America and higher education for their children. They settled in Butler, Pennsylvania, where Ian’s father worked as chauffeur to a wealthy landlord. The family lived on the estate, in an apartment above the carriage house. Then, in 1949, fourteen-year-old Ian was hired as a hangar boy at a nearby airfield. Thus began a career in aviation that rose to remarkable heights.

In Watch me Take Off, Ilona Duncan commemorates her husband’s life and achievements during an era of joyous and adventures flying. The book is about life’s vicissitudes, about love and heroes, and a man from a generation that believed in humility, integrity, personal responsibility, and hard work. 

Available through any bookstore and on-line sellers


  • A beautifully written tribute to an extraordinary man who’s influence in the airline is legion.

  • A well-written story of a truly amazing man.

  • A Great tribute to a Great Leader in Aviation. 

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At Home On the Road
A Wayfaring Couple in North America


Library of Congress Control number: 2021902940


Friends and family placed bets when they heard Ilona and Ian Duncan’s plan. Two successful, strong-willed professionals would sell their Coral Gables home, buy a converted bus, and travel permanently. A wild idea! How long would the Duncan marriage survive a self-imposed confinement of 350 square-feet?

Humorous, vivid, informative, and entertaining, Ilona Duncan’s narrative reveals a two-year adventure in North America. This worldly, wayfaring couple seeks wilderness and wildlife, which often means rough country and lonely roads. Mountains, meadows, rivers, and deserts become their home.  Although marital disputes arise and countless mishaps occur, they become irrelevant. What Ian and Ilona Duncan experience is nature’s spiritual, uplifting, transforming beauty. And through their two-year journey, they re-discover a deep and sustaining love in their marriage.

Available through any bookstore and on-line sellers


  • Ilona writes with humor and honesty about marriage and life, recounting a journey of trials, triumphs, and an unexpected ending.  I highly recommend this book.

  • I loved reading about Ilona's personal journey and her willingness to describe her feelings, joys, sorrows, and her spiritual journey with Ian. She did it with honesty and humor. 

  • The story is an impressive record of a wacky/accomplished couple taking a chance and coming through stronger and more connected than in the past. Bravo. 

My Jewish Great Grandmother

ISBN-13: 978-1544921075

For Ilona Duncan a distant relative determined her life’s direction. Born in Germany during World War II, she could not escape the reality of having a Jewish great-grandmother. The most poignant example of this injustice was that Ilona never knew the identity of her real father. As a teenager she learned about the Holocaust and Germany’s wall of silence concerning the Third Reich. Her Jewishness, distant as it was, eventually led to her desire to divorce her Fatherland.

And in 1964 she left for Paris, never to return to live in Germany again. In her memoir she recounts the difficult journey from her student days in Paris and London to becoming a Pan American stewardess and a citizen of the world. Throughout a determined and courageous life, Ilona could not shed a painful antipathy toward the country of her birth. Only in writing My Jewish Great-Grandmother, did she rediscover her father and came to peace with her Vaterland.   

Available in paperback and eBook on Amazon


  • Ilona is a fine writer with a fascinating story to tell.

  • A truly heartwarming story of post WWII and the subsequent rebuilding of faith in her birthright. The writer explores the obstacles that were encountered en route to shedding the burdens that her mother faced during Nazi Germany. Forgiving is never easy, but she climbs the mountain in a narrative of the journey. A good read that kept me going.

  • Ilona Duncan demonstrated the courage to delve deeply into her past.  And this patient exploration has resulted in a meaningful book, one especially praiseworthy for its intelligent and sensitive inquiry into lived experience.

  • One regret, it had to end.

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