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Saturday, December 16, 2017

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This weekend only!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

In CHASING DRAGONS (, Edwina "Eddie" Watt learned to fly in her uncle's Curtiss Jenny while growing up in West Texas.

They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one. This famous photo titled "Jenny in a Tree" puts that theory to a severe test! Before and after pictures!

The Curtiss JN-4D is almost synonymous with American aviation in the 1920s. The Jenny, as it was affectionately called, appeared in 1917. Heretofore having only produced pusher aircraft, Glenn Curtiss ...hired an experienced European designer to lead the new project named B. Douglas Thomas, who had worked for Avro and Sopwith in England. The Jenny performed admirably as a trainer for the U.S. Air Service during World War I, but its more significant role in aviation history was as a barnstorming and mail-carrying airplane in the 1920s. Large numbers of relatively inexpensive war surplus Jennys were available in the United States after 1918. Its affordability, ease of operation, and versatility made the Jenny the signature airplane of the barnstorming era.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

In CHASING DRAGONS ( of the action centers round the Pan Am Clipper facility on Canton Island. The Boeing 314 Clipper was a long-range flying boat produced by the Boeing Aircraft Company between 1938 and 1941. One of the largest aircraft of the time, it used a massive wing to achieve the range necessary for flights across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Twelve Clippers were built; nine were brought into service for Pan Am and later transferred to the U.S. military.

They required numerous Island stops, such as Canton Island to transverse the Pacific.
Pan Am's Clippers were built for one-class luxury air travel, a necessity given the long duration of transoceanic flights. The seats could be converted into 36 bunks for overnight accommodation; with a cruising speed of 155 miles per hour. The flight from San Francisco to Honolulu was 19 hours. The 314s had a lounge and dining area, and the galleys were crewed by chefs from four-star hotels. Men and women were provided with separate dressing rooms, and white-coated stewards served five and six-course meals with gleaming silver service. The standard of luxury on Pan American's Boeing 314s has rarely been matched on heavier-than-air transport since then; they were a form of travel for the super-rich. Boeing 314 Clippers brought exotic destinations like the Far East within reach of air travelers and came to represent the romance of flight. By 1946 all Clippers had been retired.

The Clipper was a flying boat which differs from a seaplane. 

Anyone know the difference?

Monday, October 16, 2017

When I was writing CHASING DRAGONS, I needed to research the slang and jargon appropriate to the times. World War II produced a bunch of clever, and often colorful terms. Here are just a few for your enjoyment. In acronyms where the “F” appears, I have substituted “Fouled” for the more vulgar term. If you have some others, feel free to comment. Two rules: Keep it clean and make it appropriate to the WW II time frame.
Applesauce – Expletive
Anchor clanker -Sailor
Are you rationed? – Are you going steady?
Armored cow – Canned milk
Army banjo - shovel
Bags of mystery - Sausage
Bathtub – Sidecar for a motorcycle
Bupkis – Zero, Nothing
Canned morale – A movie
Cat’s beer - Milk
Cheaters - Sunglasses
Chrome-dome – Baldhead
Cook with gas – To do something right
Cookie – Cute Girl
Cupid’s itch - VD
Dead hoofer – Poor dancer
Devil’s piano -Machine gun
FUBAR – Fouled up beyond recognition
Gams – Legs
G.I. Jesus - Chaplain
Going fishing = looking for a date
Hen fruit – Eggs
Horsefeathers – Expletive
Khaki wacky – Boy crazy
Licorice stick - Clarinet
Moo and goo - Pancakes and syrup
Motorized freckles – Insects
Peepers - Eyes
Share cropper – Promiscuous woman
SOS – “Stuff” on a shingle
SNAFU – Situation normal all fouled up
Snap your cap – Get angry
Stompers – Shoes

Thursday, October 5, 2017

In CHASING DRAGONS ( and THE LAST RAJAH (, co-pilot Edwina "Eddie" Watt is a former WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). Their mission was to free male pilots for combat roles by employing qualified female pilots to ferry aircraft from factories to military bases and to tow drones and aerial targets. Each WASP candidate already had a pilot's license. They were trained to fly "the Army way" by the U.S. Army Air Forces at Avenger Fie...ld in Sweetwater, Texas. More than 25,000 women applied for the WASP, and fewer than 1,900 were accepted. After completing four months of military flight training, 1,074 of them earned their wings and became the first women to fly American military aircraft. WASP were stationed at 122 air bases across the U.S., assuming numerous flight-related missions, and relieving male pilots for combat duty. They flew sixty million miles of operational flights from aircraft factories to ports of embarkation and military training bases. They also towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice, simulated strafing missions, and transported cargo. Women in these roles flew almost every type of aircraft flown by the USAAF during World War II. Pictured here is Elizabeth Gardner in a B-26 Marauder. Change her hair to blonde and she could be Eddie!

Friday, September 22, 2017

In CHASING DRAGONS, Duke Kellogg explains to his co-pilot Edwina “Eddie” Watt the legend of Mag Check Charlie. This legend was born on Wake Island (where I initially heard the story in 1971.) During WWII, pilots transiting Wake were told of a 15-foot tiger shark named Mag Check Charlie. Before I tell you how the story goes, I need to give you a little background.

An aircraft piston engine differs from an automobile engine primarily in its ignition system. An automobile has one spark plug per piston, an aircraft engine has two…a left and a right. This is done for redundancy.  As long as either is working, the engine runs fine. All the left spark plugs are run off the left magneto and all the right spark plugs off the right. Magnetos are electric generating devices that are mounted on the engine. As long as the engine is turning they work. This is unlike a generator on a car. If the belt breaks or the generator fails, the engine stops. That won’t do in an airplane.

Prior to takeoff, the pilot checks each magneto system by switching one off at a time. If the opposite magneto is working, the engine runs fine, but at a slightly lower RPM. He repeats for the second magneto.

Wake Island is about two miles long…about the same length as the runway. Legend has it that Mag Check Charlie would cruise around the engine run-up area and listen to the magneto check. If the engine sounded rough, he would swim around to the departure end and wait for dinner to drop in! Charlie was out of luck with the advent of the jet engine…they don’t have magnetos.