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Saturday, December 16, 2017

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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.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Here are Betty and Veronica from the Archie Comic book series. The engines on the "Deuce", a Lockheed Lodestar featured in the popular action novels CHASING DRAGONS and THE LAST RAJAH , were named after these two ladies. Betty was on the right wing. Veronica, the troublemaker, was on the left. If you'd like a fun read check out either on Amazon. If nothing else, stop by and check out the reviews. All those folks can't be wrong!!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

One of the greats of aviation history and the role model for Edwina "Eddie " Watt in CHASING DRAGONS and THE LAST RAJAH. She disappeared July 2, 1937 in the South Pacific. Recent claims of her survival have been debunked. She was the ultimate feminist by example.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Great Books at a Great Price! 

Don't miss this opportunity!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

It's here, May 27, 2017!!!

In the post-war South Pacific, pilot Duke Kellogg, co-pilot, Edwina “Eddie” Watt, and flight mechanic Nick Minetti, once again, find themselves up to their necks in mystery and intrigue. A harrowing emergency landing on a search and rescue mission leaves the crew of “The Deuce” stranded in a remote rain forest in central Borneo. There they must contend with treachery, headhunters, and a rogue Japanese patrol. Will they find the missing heir to the Rajah’s throne? Will they solve the mystery of the blue diamond? Will they escape with their lives? With time running out and the odds stacked against them, the crew must use all their skills to survive their search for The Last Rajah

Thursday, June 29, 2017

This is a picture of a reticulated python similar to the one Eddie has an encounter with in THE LAST RAJAHThe inspiration for that episode came from my experience with “Pete” at U-Tapao Airfield, Thailand in 1972. Pete was kept in a 15’ x 15’ screened enclosure adjacent to the “Grunts Grove” snack bar where crews would go to get a bite after a flight. Despite the size of the cage, he was too large to uncoil completely. His head was the size of a saucer and his girth was the size of a football.  Pete was periodically fed a live chicken. The process was fascinating. On the first day, the chicken was oblivious to the danger. It would walk all over the snake, even perching on its head. The snake never moved…it just stared straight ahead with cold, dead eyes. When you came back the second day, something had changed. Although the snake still hadn’t moved, the chicken was now in the corner trembling with fear. On the third day…no chicken! How did the chicken know on day two that the jig was up? When the war ended, Pete was transported to the Omaha Zoo. He weighed in at 300 pounds. Oh…it turned out Pete was a she!

P.S. The woman pictured below hasn’t been seen recently…coincidence?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

This is what Duke and Eddie had to work with in CHASING DRAGONS and THE LAST RAJAH. It’s probably hard for modern pilots to imagine climbing into an aircraft like the Lockheed Lodestar with its primitive navigation capabilities and setting out on a 2,000-mile journey over open ocean for a remote island destination. But thousands of missions were flown just like that.  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Vintage Terry and the Pirates comic featuring Captain Terry Lee, his co-pilot Hotshot and the Dragon Lady. She served as an inspiration for the Madam Zhang character in THE LAST RAJAH. I had to age her a bit and move her from Shanghai to Borneo. Terry and the Pirates was created as a comic strip by Milton Caniff. It was subsequently adapted into a radio serial, a movie serial, and a TV show. The retro feel of the series was what I was going for in CHASING DRAGONS and THE LAST RAJAH

Monday, June 5, 2017

James Brooke, the first "White Rajah of Sarawak, Borneo. His family's 100-year reign is the basis for the plot of The Last Rajah. Here's some background info:

If you go the page listed above, you will also see a picture of a proboscis monkey similar to the ones that warned the Deuce's radio team of an approaching Japanese patrol.

Friday, May 26, 2017

  In the aftermath of World War II, recently discharged Army Air Force pilot Duke Kellogg and his fledgling airline find themselves embroiled an adventure involving intrigue and missing treasure. The legend of the Golden Dragons has been debated from bar stools throughout the South Pacific for years, but most believe it to be nothing more than a good yarn.  When a mysterious woman enters the Coral Pacific offices and claims to be the fiancĂ©e of a missing courier on a secret mission carrying gold to Chiang Kai-Shek, she sets in motion a series of events involving, deception, mystery and hair raising exploits.  Through it all Duke, his copilot, Edwina Watt and flight mechanic Nick Minetti struggle to uncover the truth and survive while Chasing Dragons.

Check out the rave reviews on Amazon.

You can purchase a paperback or Kindle edition here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


This is a Lockheed Lodestar similar to the one flown by Duke Kellogg and his copilot Edwina "Eddie" Watt while Chasing Dragons.

The Lockheed 18 Lodestar was the last twin-engine transport designed by Lockheed. The prototype, a Lockheed 14 Super Electra lengthened by five feet, flew on the 21st of September, 1939. Designed for the commercial market, Lockheed found domestic sales slow due to previous commitments by airlines to buy the DC-3. A total of 96 were ordered by foreign airlines in Canada, Africa, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, the UK and Venezuela.

The first military orders for the Lodestar came from the US Navy. In 1940, the Navy ordered three variants, an executive transport carrying seven, a personnel transport carrying 14, and a paratroop transport carrying 18. In 1941, the US Army Air Corps had 13 Lodestars built and designated them the C-57. In addition, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a number of civilian Lodestars were requisitioned and designated the C-56. Between 1942 and 1943, the USAAC acquired 324 C-60As, 18-seat paratroop transports. Some of these aircraft were passed on to the UK. RAF versions were known as the Lodestar I (C-56), Lodestar IA (C-59), and Lodestar II (C-60), and most were operated as medium-range transports. After the war, some Lodestars were converted into executive aircraft, while others went to work for small freight operators. Less than 20 Lodestars are still airworthy in the USA today.

Ceiling 20,000 ft
Max Speed: 218 mph
Range: 1800 miles
Number Built: 500

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K.Gann

If you have any interest in commercial aviation and haven't read this book, do yourself a favor and run out and get yourself a copy. This masterpiece of aviation lore is part memoir, part historical journal and part philosophical treatise.

The early days of commercial aviation were marred by many fatal accidents. The author's accounts of these disasters are interesting in their own right...we're all fascinated with the why of an accident... but nuts and bolts are not the major theme of this book. That is a larger issue: Why does one pilot survive and another does not? Sure, some accidents can be traced to pilot error, but others seem to be a matter of luck. Pilot A was there, pilot B was not. One survives and one does not. Why? The book postulates that there is no rational answer to this. It is random...fate.

This masterful work is both interesting and thought provoking. It is one of my favorites.  Five props!