I’m often asked: do you still love to fly? It is a good question, and not easy to answer. Why? After 13,000 hours of flying it can, and for many becomes a dreaded chore, just a job. Especially with the contracts of the airlines being gutted in bankruptcy. 75 used to be the max flight hours at my company, now it is 100. Pilots get pretty beat up. In the military 25 hours was a good month, 60 you had to see the flight surgeon and 80 could not be exceeded. To be sure, military flying is different to an extreme, especially flying fighters.
Which brings up another aspect; banging off the pointy end, flying over a hot combat zone, air to air re-fueling, and then returning to land on the same ship. All on a stormy, pitch black night, just doesn’t compare to flying from Dallas to Tulsa. Or accelerating your F-4 Phantom II, to 1.5 Mach and zoom climbing high enough to see the curvature of the earth, at sunset, off the west coast.
To be sure, thunder storms, crosswinds and the occasional emergency keeps the blood rate up in airliners. But to say it is the same would be disingenuous. It is not. And I did love it. Even when the adrenaline spike made my knees shake as I held the brakes after a night carrier landing, waiting to be chained down to a pitching deck.
So do I still love to fly? On a clear night over the Amazon watching the lightning jump from thunder storm to thunder storm in the distance and then looking up at the stars, that go on forever. On nights like that, yes. It is what I’ve tried to capture in my books: Project 7 Alpha, Vengeance, ENDGAME and very soon CODE NAME Infamy. my intent is not only to capture these moments but also to pass them to my readers.
Watch NASA’s video above and you will see why.