Independence Day

B737 In FlightCleared for takeoff, I advance the power and the whine of the two jet engines increases then stabilizes to a steady growl.

The one-hundred-sixty-six of us onboard the 737 are shoved back into our seats, bringing a smile to my face. The brisk acceleration tapers off at one hundred knots but continues bringing the airplane closer to flying airspeed of one-hundred-fifty-two knots.

The end of the runway is getting closer. An engine failure or fire no doubt would let a few expletives slip from my mouth as I brought the airplane to a stop on what seems like a football field length of concrete. I mentally prepare for that emergency in case it happens. The white striped lines of the runway centerline increase in their flash under the nose.

A quick scan of the engine gauges reveals they are healthy. My inattention allowed the aircraft to wander a foot to the right. The nose gear rolls over the center line lights with a thump, thump, thump, before I correct the swerve and plant the tires back on the white stripes.

“V1. Rotate,” the first officer calls out.

With both hands on the yoke I ease it back raising the aircraft’s nose. We roll another thousand feet down the runway on the mains before the lift generated by the wings eases them off the concrete. We’re flying.

I continue bringing the nose up to establish a climb speed. “Positive rate, gear up,” I say.

Several seconds later the rumble of the nose gear tires retracting under the cockpit has halted. The only noise is from the engines, the airstream sliding by the cockpit at one hundred and eighty knots, and the control tower ordering us to contact departure.

Within a couple of minutes, the controller watching our blip on his radar screen has given us a couple of turns, pointed out other airplanes, and cleared us to a higher altitude. While adhering to these instructions I’ve accelerated to two-hundred-fifty knots and raised the flaps.

Below us on this Fourth of July families and friends are gathering to cookout, go to the beach, swim, campout or some other activity that’ll put them together. I could gripe I have to work and can’t be with my family. If I had a desk job I might have this day off.

Everyday around the world little boys and girls dream of flying as I used to. Unfortunately becoming a pilot is prohibitively expensive for so many. Hanging out at their small town airport and begging and bumming flights until they can pilot their own aircraft will be impossible. The desire to fly will be so strong for some they’ll leave their country to live in the U.S. where pursuing a career as a pilot is feasible.

For me, an American, becoming a pilot though not without its challenges was relatively easy. There have been times during airline bankruptcies and mergers that moved me down seniority lists that caused me to miss holidays and family events when I questioned if I made the correct career choice.

I wish I could have more time at home and holidays off, but what other profession would give me the satisfaction I receive every time I advance the power to begin flight?

There isn’t one that I know of that I would experience the excitement of taking a one-hundred-seventy-five thousand pound machine into the air and fly it across the country at three quarters the speed of sound at thirty seven thousand feet.

Becoming a pilot has been almost as fulfilling as being married to my wife, a father to my step-daughter, and a step-grandfather.

On this Independence Day I give thanks to those who have fought to provide me with the freedom to chase my dreams and live them to their fullest.

Eric Chandler’s, Down In It

Eric Chandler's Down In ItReaders who might wonder what it is like to eject from an F-16 in Afghanistan and try to stay alive will find this book intriguing. The fact that the author is a retired F-16 pilot who has flown several missions in that war torn country makes the details in the story authentic.

The premise of the story is: Doug “Hoser” Mackenzie is shoot down over the mountains and has to evade capture if he wants to live.

I would have given this book a five star rating instead of four except for two issues.

I would have liked a little more emotional connection through the story. While the character was drifting down in his parachute, he didn’t seem all that concerned. Nor did he seem upset that he’d been shot down, something I think would be devastating to any pilot.

Also, the author uses flashback to show the type of character the pilot is. This reviewer is not a fan of this method of storytelling as I feel the story comes to a halt while the author develops the character. Therefore, several times I questioned if dwelling on Hoser’s past was appropriate when I was worrying about him evading the people chasing him. Other readers may not consider this a deterrent though.

At the story’s conclusion I understood why the author chose this method as I was left hoping the experience of being shot down would make Hoser a better person. Although that made for a character arc that was satisfying, it took me several days of thought to understand why the author wrote the book the way he did.

 This was a quick read that gave this reviewer a taste of an author I’ll follow.

Avengers of Blood, by Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lyn Wood's Avengers of BloodAvengers of Blood is the kind of books in a series I love. It has the same characters from The Devil of Light, the previous novel, who I had gotten to know and love; or hate. This one had a different engaging plot with aspects of the previous book’s unsolved mystery threading its way through the story. It also had a satisfying ending that left some questions unanswered telling me that soon I would be spending more time with my friends. It was written so that a reader who hadn’t read the first one wouldn’t feel lost.

Ms. Wood’s gift is creating small town characters that ring true. It’s apparent she’s spent some time observing people and storing their interactions for fodder for her stories. All of the characters in the story are flawed, some more than others, just like the people in our lives. Even the characters you root for you’ll wish could get over their insecurities and move on. But they would not seem realistic if they shrugged off what’s been a part of their life.

This story’s premise could have come straight from almost any southern newspapers headlines. There’s a gruesome murder in the first chapter discovered by a murderer denied the revenge they’ve been waiting all their life to seek. That engaged this reader as I knew the denied murderer would seek their revenge on those that stole it from them.

Maxine, a new character, was introduced in this story and made for smile evoking reading with her interactions with Cassie, the protagonist.

The only issue I had with the writing was the author occasionally spent too much time showing character actions to avoid dialog tags. Sometimes a simple said, or asked would have let the conversation flow better than showing a character doing something that didn’t add to the scene as a way to identify who spoke.

That was a minuscule issue that won’t stop me from looking forward to reading more from this author.

I recommend this novel to anyone who loves crime/mystery novels.

Here’s a link to learn more about this author and her books: Gae-Lynn Woods

The Privileged Ones, by C.R. Hiatt

The Privileged Ones CR HiattWhen you finish this novella, you’re not going to not be satisfied until you download and read Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00, the sequel to this story.

In The Privileged Ones Ms. Hiatt abruptly puts you into the lives of two very ruthless individuals who feel it is their right to do as they wish, regardless of who they kill along the way. The story moves forward at a fast clip with occasional pauses to get to know the main characters.

Its apparent Ms. Hiatt has devoured novels in this genre as she doesn’t waste time with flowery scene setting or character description. She gives the briefest of descriptions to allow the reader the opportunity to picture the scene before diving into the action or interaction between characters. I found myself smiling while reading the exchanges between the two protagonists, Sidney and Cody.

I look forward to reading more from this author.

Velvet Rain by David C. Cassidy

Velvet Rain DCC Full StoryIf you’re like me it is hard to read a book in a reasonable length of time when it has more than 150,000 words regardless of how good the writing is. We’re all busy with many things vying for our time, as well as our own created distractions.

But exceptionally written books that hold me in the world within the pages that make me care for the characters are worth whatever time it takes to read them. Velvet Rain, by David C. Cassidy was one of those books.

It was published several years ago and I’m surprised it isn’t now on a thriller/time travel bestsellers list. I think the author realized a new undiscovered author with prose as engaging as King or Koontz can’t persuade readers to consider a lengthy story until he has the following of the previous two mentioned masters.

Thus I was pleased to notice that Velvet Rain was broken into three novels, each being priced at a low price.

If you enjoy stories about bad things happening to good people, I’d highly recommend you give the first of the three books, Velvet Rain, Life, a try. Trust me, you’ll be speeding through it and reading the other two in the series, Death, and Hell on Earth, shortly afterward.

Flight For Safety by Karlene Petitt

Flight for Safety Karlene PetittThe accidents discussed in this novel are based on actual ones. Crew fatigue, reduced training, inexperienced instructors, pilots becoming dependent on the aircraft’s automation, and airline mergers so the upper airline management can profit at the expense of the employees are all actual problems airline pilots face. The portrayal of some in the FAA wanting to do something about these problems but being prevented by their leaders is also accurately depicted.

Unfortunately I thought the author struggled to tie these subjects into a convincing thriller. The harassment the protagonist, Darby, experiences from her airline management I thought was a stretch for her alleged infractions. It wasn’t until the story was wrapped up did I understand why management had beleaguered her.

But the author making Darby out as a hardnosed woman who didn’t take any crap was smile invoking, and made the climax at the end realistic.

The other reason for my four star rating was the writing wasn’t as polished as I would have liked. There were a lot of stage directions to describe what was going on. Darby did this, then that, then she did this. The end was summed up in a narration I thought could have been more engaging if Darby had discussed the events with one of the other characters. Also, several events happened without any real setup or explanation as to how they came to be.

But the heart of the novel was so precisely depicted I admire Ms. Petitt’s ability to put the reader in the cockpit of an advance aircraft like the Airbus A-330 and fill the scene with enough details that the reader understands basically what is going on without bogging the story down with extraneous details.

 I’ll be reading more of this author’s novels.

Army of Worn Soles, by Scott Bury

Army of Worn SolesIf you’re interested in historical accounts of World War II, you’ll enjoy this book. Written with a smooth prose that moves the story along you won’t be bored with unnecessary verbiage. You’ll also feel compassion for the narrator for having been caught up in a war his country of birth wasn’t fighting.

I liked how the story began with a scene that takes place later in the book that engages the reader with what will happen to the narrator. Then the next chapter the reader gets to see the narrator, a college student, struggling with his studies while supporting himself before he’s drafted into war. I eagerly read these earlier chapters so I could see how the events that are mentioned in the first chapter are unfolded.

 Although a fictional account of the author’s father-in-law actual experiences, the story reads as a thriller. But knowing the experiences the narrator is shoved into are based on fact makes the reading all the more compelling.

 I would have liked to have had a bit more emotional connection with the narrator but that desire didn’t prevent me from devouring this book.

I look forward to the continuation of this story in the book presently being written.

New Edition of airline thriller, The Cover-Up

PrintBook - The CoverUp - SmallIf you’re a paperback reader of airline thrillers, the new version of The Cover-Up is available. Like the EBook, it has been re-edited, an author’s note is included that explains how the story was conceived, as well as the first chapter of Coerced, the novel that follows it.

You can read the author’s note here.

If you’re interested in buying the paperback, it’s available here.

David C. Cassidy created this inspiring cover and formatted the book.

Review of Airline Thriller, Calamity

cropped-calamity-fullres-6-x-9.jpgI’m honored to have the talented David C. Cassidy leave this five star review of my airline thriller, Calamity.

Book Review, Calamity.

Not only is David a talented graphic artist, he’s a gifted writer too. Check out his novels, Velvet Rain, Fosgate’s Game, and The Dark.

New Cover for Airline Thriller, The Cover-Up

Cover-Small-The CoverupI will soon be republishing my first airline thriller, The Cover-Up. It will have some editing changes, the addition of an author’s note explaining how the story was conceived, and the first chapter of the novel that follows it, titled, Coerced. To signify the change, I’ve commissioned the incredible David C. Cassidy to create the stunning cover you see at the left for both the EBook and paperback.

If you’re looking for a cover-artist/book-formatter who is a dream to work with you should consider David.

Until the novel is re-released, here is the author’s note that’ll be in the new edition:

While trying to come up with an idea for an airline thriller, I looked back over my twenty-five years of pretty routine flying and considered some of the situations I’d encountered. I’ve had to divert from the intended destination because of weather, sick passengers, airport closings, and mechanical issues. Luckily, I’ve never had to divert because of rowdy passengers like some of my brethren have. It would be a stretch to dramatize what is a pilot’s typical day to make into an exciting plot.

I gave some thought to having a terrorist problem, but decided against it for several reasons. I didn’t want anything I dreamed up to be something terrorist might try. I would also give away some of the security procedures that have been implemented since the attacks on nine-eleven.

During this brainstorming I remembered a few years prior a routine line-check, what the FAA calls a route check, by an FAA inspector who didn’t say much during the flight.

Unlike Ernest Norman in this book, almost all of the FAA Inspectors I’ve encountered are good people doing what is often an unrewarding job. It also has to be frustrating working around aviation but seldom being able to sit at the controls of an aircraft. There are a few who like to exert their authority by making airlines, mechanics, or pilots feel their licenses are on the line.

Most of the time the inspectors giving the line-checks will interact with the crews easing the tension that always rises when pilots feel they’re being watched. The feeling is similar to when a police officer follows the car you’re driving. When I get a quiet one who doesn’t attempt to converse with us, I question if they’re trying to be out-of-sight-out of-mind so we can do our jobs as we would without them there? Or, scrutinizing our every move and word hoping we’ll do something wrong so they can issue a violation.

My line-check went fine with no issues for the inspector to discuss after we had parked at the gate. But during the flight, I wondered if a situation arose and I made a decision the inspector disagreed with and thought the safety of the flight was in question, what might he do?

I ruminated on that thought for some time and asked myself: What would happen if I followed the inspector’s advice and it caused an accident? What would the FAA do to prevent the lashing they would take in the media? I had to have the crew in my story follow the inspector’s recommendation during a critical phase of flight when there wasn’t time to discuss the safest course of action. A blown tire on takeoff from a short runway that ended above and beyond the water’s edge fit my needs.

As mentioned in the story, blown tires on takeoff are very rare and seldom cause accidents. Intimidating inspectors are also extremely rare.

If you enjoyed the book, I would appreciate it if you would leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or your online retailer of choice so that other readers considering the novel will get an idea if it’s worth a read.