Words on Wednesdays: AvTech


November is NaNoWriMo

“Is Amelia, here?” I asked Anne at the front desk. “She asked me to meet her here.”

“You must be John,” she said, as she continued looking at her screen.

“Wait,” she said.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Amelia is not here. She is off in the field inspecting the avionics in one of the B737s, somewhere out there,” she vaguely pointed.

“Do you know when she will be back?” I asked.

“Maybe, maybe not” she responded absentmindedly.

“Do you like opera,” she asked after eons.

“What?” I asked in exasperation. What the devil is wrong with this woman?

“Are you seeing anyone?” she continued.

Before I could respond, the phone rang, and she was on the phone for a good ten minutes, talking secretive, absurd nothings. I was almost ready to give up and leave. What a strange group of people, I thought. How does Amelia manage to work with this weird bunch?

“How about Yanni?” asked the ridiculous woman interrupting my thoughts.

“What?” I asked stupidly. What does this have to do with Amelia I wondered?

“Can you let Amelia know, I was here? I will be at the Firehouse Grill,” I responded getting ready to walk out and leave this bizarre office.

I could hear strange sounds, as someone in the cubicle next to the front desk desperately controlled himself or herself.

“You must definitely like John Lennon. You seem the type,” continued the ridiculous woman.

“Yes, I like John Lennon.” I humored the woman.

This time, the person behind the cube, could not hold himself or herself any longer. I could hear unconstrained laughter. I walked around to see what the ruckus was, before Jane at the front desk could stop me.

Frank the assistant was doubled over laughing so uncontrollably that I was not sure what it was all about. Seeing me looking at him dumbfounded, Frank finally got his act together.

“Hi!” he said. “Amelia said you would come over at 11:30. Would you like to see how we prepare to return an aircraft to service?” he asked. “Amelia said you might,” before I could respond.

“Sure.” I said.

“Terrific, I am to bring you over so you can watch. It is pretty cool”.

As we walked over to the B737 undergoing checks, Frank made small talk. “Don’t mind Jane. She means well. She is just trying to figure out if your interests are similar to Amelia. You know she is a master matchmaker. She can’t stop herself.”

What? I thought. Yanni, Lennon, maybe Jane was not so stupid after all. I could forgive her if she was on my side. Was she?

“There, you are,” said Amelia. “We have been waiting for you. I thought you might like to see the process to return the aircraft to service. This is one of the first aircraft that has been scheduled to return to service.”

“Yes. I certainly would.” I said as Frank and I joined Amelia and Jack as they walked through the avionics checks.

It takes a full seven days to return an aircraft to service according to Amelia.

Although, what was foremost on my mind was whether I liked Yanni.

NaNoWriMo Wrapup


November was NaNoWriMo. I pledged to write 50,000 words.

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Yesterday, it ended finally. And I failed.

It was an over ambitious  goal to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I knew it right at the beginning. Still all is not lost. I don’t consider the effort a total failure.

While I might not have met my word count goal, I did finally spend time to chalk out the plot line, the events, the characters and the mystery.  And even wrote several chapters.  I didn’t write daily, and in fact didn’t write most of the month. Strangely enough November ended up being way too busy. Way too busy than normal. Did I mention I work 40+ hours?  I flew most weekends in November as well.  I don’t want to give reasons as to why I didn’t write. Considering the few days, actually hours I spent on this, it was still worthwhile. I enjoyed every moment, creating the characters, the scenes, the mystery and  building the plot.

This was the first time I was focused on a full length novel, so it was an interesting exercise to work the details, keep the dates right, the names right and tie all the events together cohesively.

As far as I am concerned, the writing will continue. My goals remains unchanged. And I have a mystery to solve!

Here’s another fragment for your enjoyment. Enjoy!

September

“William Turner Atwater!” bellowed a voice.

“Teddy! Is it really you?” laughed Bill, getting up and hauling Teddy into a warm embrace. Theodore Edward Graham was another legend at the airline. “So you are the surprise. Well. Well. John, do you know Teddy?”

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but of course I have heard about him. Who hasn’t?” I responded, shaking Teddy’s hand.

“He and I were together at Nam and fought side by side. We quit the army around the same time and chose a career in aviation. Thirty years. And it comes to an end soon. I heard you are retiring soon, Teddy.” Bill said, looking at Teddy.

“Yep. In fact today is my last day. I jump seat with you to LAX, pick up the flight to DC. My last flight.” He answered wistfully.

“Are you planning to retire in the Capital?” questioned Bill.

“No, just have to take care of some business out east, and then I will move permanently to Lancaster, CA. I still own a home there. Millie and I will settle down there. How much longer do you have?” Teddy asked.

“I have one more year to go. Good to hear that you are still going to be in California. Jill and I plan to retire in San Luis Obispo, so we will be practically neighbors.” Bill responded enthusiastically.

“Captain, ready to load the passengers?” asked Nina, our chief flight crew member, peeking into the cockpit.

“Yes, better get them in, before they start a strike,” joked the Captain.

Thirty minutes later with the passengers loaded, weight and balance resolved, we finally closed the airplane doors and taxied in line to depart from Runway 28L.

I like these early morning departures. Daylight was barely breaking through. There was some early morning fog hugging the coastline. The lights of San Francisco were like beacons suspended in space. Off to the right was the Bay Bridge glistening in silver. Even this early in the morning, I could see traffic trickling through. And to the right, glinting golden with the streaks of dawn was the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Wisps of white fog floated. We climbed steadily and headed towards Point Reyes, before turning to intercept the radial to Woodside VOR.

I always enjoyed flying the Golden Gate Arrival during evening twilight or dusk as well. It is breathtaking, or sometimes, as is often possible, when the fog rolls in and the Golden Gate remains suspended in space, resplendent in the evening glow. Seeing the Golden Gate any time of the day or night means coming home. The setting sun over the Pacific, the crisp sunny skies with fog looming over the valley, were a comforting sight. I loved flying from my home town of San Francisco.

The trip to LAX was a mere one hour. Within minutes we were headed direct to AVX VORTAC and cruising in level flight. Arriving at AVX we will execute the arrival procedure into LAX. Over the last two years, I had flown this route many times. I could literally fly this route blind folded.

I could hear the bantering between Bill and Teddy as they joked about bygone days. I wished the flight were longer. One did not get the opportunity to fly with not one but two legends in the same cockpit. Bill flew the plane with expert precision and finesse.

We had arrived at AVE and were already working through our before landing checklist, when a call from our dispatch office buzzed in. Seconds later, we had communication with the Air Traffic Control.

Neither of us knew that moment, how irrevocably, all our lives were going to be changed.

#NaNoWriMo: Teaser


50,000 words in one month is an incredibly challenging task to accomplish. Especially for a brand new, wannabe author, with no experience with serious writing!

I have two themes that are close to my heart. Over the last few years I have pondered about them now and then, and kicked around the back ground, characters,theme  and setting for a while. I tentatively started on my ideas last year, but made little progress. Until now I haven’t taken my writing seriously.

A few weeks ago, I started noticing references to NaNoWriMo again, as November approaches. I always perform better when I challenge myself and am on a deadline. So this seemed the perfect time to put my ideas on paper, commit to a deadline and see if my ideas are any good 🙂

NaNoWriMo officially kicks off today at midnight. I hope to write a little each day. So let’s see how far I will get to by the end of November. If you are a budding author like me, Good Luck! May the force be with you!

Here’s another snippet, a teaser, in passing for your enjoyment…
Happy halloween!

Disclaimer: As always this is work in progress, not edited for grammar and punctuation. Constructive feedback always welcome!

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“There is nothing wrong with your flying,” I said, as I wrote in the log book. “Don’t be shy. If you let the aircraft get ahead of you, you are going to have to work doubly hard to return to normal. It’s okay to anticipate and aggressively correct your attitude. Don’t be afraid.”

“John Francisco Adams, there you are,” said Chung. “Do you have a moment?”

The world has Cher and Madonna. We had our Chung. No one knew whether it was a first name, last name or a nickname. He was only known as Chung. He worked the front desk daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, efficiently and reliably. He had the annoying habit of addressing every one by their complete name including their middle name. But we forgave him. Simply because he was the most efficient and reliable front desk helper we had in a long while. He was good natured, helpful and always cheerful. So who were we to complain? Especially considering he had to put up with the Beast, we were happy to let him handle the Beast, which he did with much aplomb. If there was anyone who could manage the Beast, it was Chung. We were happy to leave him to that and accepted the “Chung”.

Most people called me “John or Frisco”. But to Chung I was still “John Francisco Adams”. It was traditional at Desert Flying to give a nickname to all newly minted Certified Flight Instructors in the tradition of Naval Aviators. Mine was “Frisco”, not the least because I was born and brought up in the great city of San Francisco, but also because my middle name happened to be Francisco.

“Is this important? As you can see I am finishing up with my student,” I responded apologetically, not taking my eyes from the log book, as I finished adding my certificate number. “It’s Louis,” Chung voiced, as though that explained everything. For some reason, Chung never used Nathan’s full name. It was always Louis. I could still never understand why Nathan Louis Pierce was always Louis to Chung. Granted we all knew Nathan for what he was. Once he had his daily fill of alcohol, no one knew, if what he said was the truth or not.

Nathan was the local AME, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and looked after all the flight school airplanes. He was a distinctively, unique character on the airfield. How he got away with it was another matter. To him, everything he said was important. There was always some conspiracy or the other. Once he started talking you might just question the logic of your reasoning. Nathan also had another quirky trait. He thought, none of us knew it, but we all knew: his large thermos supposedly filled with coffee, was spiked with alcohol. He thought, no one knew. But he didn’t fool us. But we let it slide. Because he was the best Mechanic in the desert. In his sober mood, he was one of the best there was. And he could tell incredible war stories.

“What about him,” I asked
“He wants you to stop by his shop,” he persisted.
“Okay. I have a few minutes free, after my next student, and I will go visit him,” I replied, preoccupied with my next student.

It was after 4:30 pm that I finally walked over to the hangers where Nathan Pierce lorded over his maintenance shop. I was still pre-occupied with my thoughts. How can I get my latest student to realize that he needed more practice? I understood he was on a budget, but heck he was nowhere near finishing his training.
“Nathan,” I called out, a trifle irritated. “Where are you? I have another student in 30 minutes. You know, I am too busy for your games,” I called out.

I walked into the hanger: irritated and preoccupied with my next student. Fred was a good student. But not one, who resonated confidence or due diligence. I needed to really work on Fred to get him prepared to take his check-ride. It was still too soon to schedule a check-ride.

“If you don’t come out in the next few minutes, I will not be here, you lousy man,” I shouted. Why did I ever give Nathan a damn? He was just drunk as usual and passed out in the rear of the hanger. A good night’s sleep was what he needed to get over his drunkenness. Why was I wasting my time here? I turned around the corner, and there he lay in the back of the hanger, as usual, too drunk to respond.

“Nathan, wake up,” I muttered as I shook him repeatedly. He opened his eyes, “John! Good you are here. I wanted to tell you about Amelia and Doc.” And the ridiculous man dozed off.
“What were you saying about Doc?” I interrupted him rudely, wanting to press on, so I could return to my next student.
“Nathan,” I kicked him over, not too gently. “What did you want to say to me? Wake up you sod!” I kicked him again none too gently. I was almost about to turn and return when I heard him feebly mutter.

“Doc, no please don’t. I won’t betray you. Please. You are hurting me,” with that he trembled uncontrollably over and over again in fear, for what seemed like incredibly long moments, before he went completely still.

“Nathan,” I shouted and patted him. But there was no movement. He remained completely still. “Wake up you fool,” I tried again and again. But he remained immovable. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think I wanted to believe it.

But even I knew, he was long gone. Nathan would never wake up again.

NaNoWriMo: My First 1000+ Words


How  you  can help? By your feedback.

Here is my updated Prologue. I appreciate all your comments. Positive or Negative. If you like it, say so. If you hate it, say so.  If you have any thoughts , feel free to leave me a comment. This is work in progress and not corrected for grammar and punctuation. I first posted my working prologue here.

Here is the updated prologue. Thanks for your feedback.

Prologue

There was no escape.

Sweat ran down my face in rivulets. My throat was parched. I screamed! But heard nothing.

My arms ached. My legs ached. It was the most uncomfortable position to be in. Trussed up, hands tied behind my back to my ankles, bent over backwards, and blindfolded with tape over my mouth. My head felt heavy and painful. As though I had smacked my head over and over again, against some hard object. My body ached all over. My arms were sore. My feet were sore. My stomach growled. My throat felt parched. Sweat rolled down.

I did not know if it was day or night. I did not know where I was. I did not know what day of the week it was, when and how I got to be where I was. My hands hurt. In fact, my whole body hurt from being twisted over uncomfortably. I did not even know why I was there. Where ever that was.

I yanked furiously, aching to free my hands and only hurt them more. I panted in desperation and my heart beat erratically.
“This is not the time to panic,” I urged myself. “Stay calm. Think,” I ordered myself.

It was easy to say, but hard to focus. How could one go through this and stay sane. I never thought, I was claustrophobic. It was the worst possible time to realize maybe, just maybe, I was just a little claustrophobic!

The deafening silence was unbearable. It only enhanced the erratic beating of my heart, the sound triple enhanced.
I willed my heart to slow down. An impossible feat I thought. It only quickened and raced harder.

Who could have done this to me, I wondered. I tried to recollect the last thing I remembered. Earlier in the day, Chung had told me that Dr. Johnson wanted to talk to me and would be in his hanger, prepping the Bonanza for his flight the next day. I never made it there. I remember turning around the last corner and being coshed with something hard.

Why? Who could have done it? I really needed to get hold of myself, calm down and think.

Hell! I had promised Amelia to help her plan for her upcoming trip to Ensenada. She was never going to forgive me. Thinking of Amelia brought back a smile. I could still see her face, when I had gone down on my knee and proposed, the day before. She hadn’t expected it.

I saw the confusion cross her face, followed by the joy, and finally the tears. “Johnny,” she laughed in disbelief. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say yes, before my knee gives way,” I had joked.

“Yes, of course yes!” she had shouted in exultation. “How could you even doubt it will be any other response? I’ve been waiting ages for you to get the courage to pop the question, you maddening man,” she had teased me lightly.

“You never called me Johnny before,” I replied sheepishly, as I gathered her into my arms for a kiss.

“You will always be Johnny to me,” she smiled mischievously. “Oh no, look at the time. You promised to help me prepare for the flight. You know I have never done this before,” she said worriedly.

“It will be fine. You are a terrific pilot. And Bill is not only a proficient doctor, but an excellent pilot. He always breezes through his flight reviews fabulously. And his Bonanza is always in tip-top shape.”

Thinking of Amelia, calmed me down. It always did. She always brought a sense of fresh breath where ever she went. When she walked into a room, people forgot everything else. I would have really liked to have been with her, right now, right this moment. But here I was, all trussed up.

Calm down and think, my mind protested. As the minutes ticked away, I finally felt my heart beat slow-down.

First, I felt the heat: the familiar heat of the desert beating down on me. The sun was beating down on the desert floor. This was evident in the sweat raining down, unwarranted. At least I was still in the desert, I thought triumphantly.

As my heart beat slowed to a normal pace, almost, I barely heard it.
How could I miss it? Through the silence of the moment I heard, the exhilarating whirl of a propeller: an aircraft. Taking off, possibly into another glorious hot, summer sky. That could be my Amelia, departing to Ensenada!

“Help,” I shouted.

But all I heard was garbled and muffled sounds, barely in a whisper.