Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Radials

Major Harvey Stovall: "That is not why I am drunk tonight. I got drunk because I am confused. I was thinking, which is a thing a man should not do, and all at once I couldn't remember what any of them looked like. I, I couldn't see their faces, Bishop, Cobb, Wilson, Zimmy, all of them. All of you. They all looked alike, just one face. And it was very young. It confused me. I think I shall stay drunk until I'm not confused anymore." Twelve O'clock High, (1949).


“Karen? Hello?”
      “Huh?”
      “Rosie the Riveter. Do you know the story?”
      “Sort of.”
      “Thousands of women worked in the aircraft factories. Women pilots flew the finished airplanes to depots for flights overseas. The folks who maintain these old aircraft, who fly them in front of crowds all over the world−they do so as a way of remembering and honoring the sacrifices people made so we can live the lives we do.” Out of Ideas, James A. Greer, (2011).

The growling radials gave it away. Skirting the foothills, skud-running under a low ceiling. The sound unmistakable, drawing me from the day's task - our front flower garden. Her unique outline was immediately recognizable. It was a B-17, in town for the weekend. She was Aluminum Overcast.

My friend John and I stood under the nose of Aluminum Overcast at the 2005 Oshkosh fly-in and marveled. By modern standards it was small and underpowered. Ten men had huddled inside, windows open to below-zero air at eighteen thousand feet. Thousands of planes, hundreds of thousands of fliers. Another era. A day later, I started writing a manuscript that became a book...my first. A labor of love, as much as it was a romantic suspense.

I chose the plane as the place Deputy Karen O'Neil would begin to understand not only Adam Phlatt, the man who would become her lover. She would understand why some people look up whenever a plane flies overhead, why this relic of an age gone forever would draw Adam, and others, to gather and celebrate inanimate metal and fabric. It wasn't just the craft. Brave men and women flew them, fought in them and often perished in them. And they did it so we could be free to gather in a small city in Wisconsin and recall their sacrifice.

Beautiful, elegant...graceful. She flew north, and disappeared somewhere over Boulder. I picked up my rake.

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