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The Mission’s Not Over Until the Paperwork’s Complete

December 2, 2014
Fort Davis Rocks E Book

Fort Davis Rocks E Book

Years ago, when I was flying tankers in the Air Force, we often got back to the squadron after a mission late at night and spent some time getting our post-mission paperwork in order.  Sometimes that meant re-writing the nav log or some other fabrication of official records, and we would often leave a stack of empty beer cans on the table to impress the morning flight planners.  Our slogan was “The mission isn’t over until the paperwork is complete.”

In the business of writing, when you type “The End” you are just at the start of the hard work.  Getting your novel ready for publication without professional help is a different skill set from writing it.  Fortunately, I am multi-talented.  To a certain extent.  I hired Tatiana to do the e-book cover, as I couldn’t figure out how to do it myself. Nice!  I spent a good deal of last weekend preparing it for Smashwords, and am well on my way to their premium catalog listing.  The way to do it is follow their style guide, all 117 pages!  I will make my three other books available through Smashwords, and I expect that I learned enough on this one to do the rest in half the time, maybe as little as 5 or 6 hours.  By the way, Kindle and Nook are very simple in comparison – you just upload a Word document.

My first training in the tanker (KC-135A) was at Castle AFB, CA – a simulator session to learn the before engine start checklist – which took 3 hours (from midnight to 3 AM), about as tedious as going through the Smashwords style guide.  But I still remember the start engines checklist – “Battery Switch – ON.  Reserve Brake Pressure – Check.”  Then it was turning 4 and off we went.  Check out the book  on Kindle or Nook – I am pretty sure that if you read the first couple of pages, I’ll have you hooked.

Here is a photo of the beast I spent a few of my formative years in:

kc 135 a\

I may write a novel about flying that beast.  There is a long flash-back scene in this novel of mine.

From → Writing Fiction

  1. 3 hours for pre-start in (basically) a 707? Sounds like the Air Force added a few things. 🙂

    I’ll tell you, there are not enough flying books out there. Let’s see: Richard Bach, Stephen Coonts, um, well that’s about it. There was that one about the self-flying stealth, but I just can’t count it in with the rest. There are a few good memoirs like Into the Mouth of the Cat, but not very many novels that come to mind.

    Guys like me watch pre-start checklist videos on Youtube. (You flip the pack switch from ground to flight AFTER starting the engines. Who knew?) I’m betting there’s an audience for a good tanker story, especially by somebody who can write about the procedures authentically. You know how demanding the the aviation crowd can be – “It’s not an elevator, it’s a stabilizer you moron.”

    Not sure how it is in the Air Force, but in the Navy, Texaco is an unsung hero totally essential to the fast movers. Their legs get real short real fast. I can already see a great hook. Eagle driver (or better yet – a Phantom!) is limping back from KTO/Pak Six and can barely reach out with channel Y. The radio crackles with broken transmissions. Somebody’s almost out of gas and you’re the only thing between them and the mouth of the cat. you’re already 30 minutes past your relief point, but the next guy hasn’t shown up yet. Bingo is just around the corner. You have to get it right before you have to turn back or ditch. The flight engineer (what are they called in the Air Force?) recognizes the voice. “It’s Dutch!” Now, it’s personal…

    Yeah, there’s an audience for a good tanker book. Let me know when it’s ready for proof. Seriously, I’d read that book.

    • The three hour before engine start checklist was in a simulator with an IP and another student, learning how to run the checklist the first time; it happened to be from midnight to 3 AM, my introduction to SAC. I don’t remember how long it took by the time I was qualified, probably 10 minutes. The copilot did the checklist while the aircraft commander did the walk around. I have good memories of long takeoff rolls in the tanker, 10,000 feet or more on the runway, and now and then some exciting stuff in the middle of an ocean. Mostly it was hours and hours of boredom, ice crunching under your boots on the way to yet another day of the preflight on alert. Have you read my novel Awol 21? It’s flying stuff from one end to the other, it was my first novel.

  2. Robert, Thank you for following Renaissance Musings. Maybe we can collaborate!!

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