I’ve been working on the details of publishing a book lately, not writing, and I’m itching to get back to writing. Print copies of Fort Davis Rocks showed up on my porch this afternoon, so it is time to get back to work. What next?
Lately I have been remembering what it was like to fly the KC-135A in the 1970’s. The newer models of the airplane have computers and big freaking engines and precise navigation stuff and radar that can see weather – I’m sure they have challenges, but back then we were just one step above seat of the pants flying. The Cold War was on, and I was a young lieutenant, copilot on Combat Crew E-114 at Rickenbacker AFB, Ohio. I can hear the ice crunching under my winter boots; wind chilling me through a winter flight jacket and long johns; low, grey overcast skies; ice or freezing rain a constant threat. Pre-flights in the dark on cold mornings, the thrill of an alert taxi exercise, taking the runway number four in a five ship, setting the throttles as the airplane lumbered down the runway for an impossibly long takeoff roll.
Death always lurked close by, too – in the burned out hulks of airplanes just visible on the far side of the runway, in the night landing approaches with low ceilings and blowing snow, in the long flights over oceans with minimum nav aids and unexpected headwinds.
I think there is a story there. My working title could be Killer 21, a call sign I once had, and something of a joke, as we were usually unarmed. I’m going to get out my old Dash 1, the checklist, some photos. I’m going to put myself back in that place, and see what happens.
Enchanted Rock White will have to wait. There are some ghosts out there, beckoning to me, wanting their story to be told.