It’s been wa-a-a-y too long since the last flying story!
Two months! It’s not for lack of stories — I have volumes of flying tales, dating back to this time last year.
I had a toxic semester at work, plus the mayhem in Bangkok, plus the daunting task of assembling all the aviation stories and pictures of 2009. Strangely, I was intimidated by where and how to start, what to rave about first.
Bangkok 😦 For six weeks, the city I live in was paralyzed by barricades, riots, and one of the bloodiest political confrontations in recent Thai history.
We live just a few blocks from the epicenter of the final week’s violence. Smoke plumes of burning buildings hung outside our windows, and a dawn-to-dusk curfew was punctuated by machine gun fire, rockets and the harsh clatter of armored vehicles and helicopters. Bangkok is a modern, high-rise city of 8 million people, so the experience was both jarring and demoralizing.
The situation is defused for now, but we were pre-occupied and anxious over it all. Thanks to readers and friends who wished us well and offered advice.
In the past months, I’ve also had an insane schedule — Europe, Asia and the US. My son Gino and I were in Brussels, Berlin and Amsterdam during an unprecedented event in aviation history, when the entire airspace of the UK and continental Europe was shut down by the Iceland smoker formerly known as Eyjafjallajökull.
We were stranded for just a day (our flight home was one of the last to be cancelled), but the entire week was weighed down by anxiety.
Still, there was a silver lining to it all. Gino and I saw the Ardennes battlefields — Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge.
We also spent a day in Arnhem, site of another epic World War II battle.
We have hundreds of pictures of battle sites that have captivated me since I was a child. And we spent a day in Berlin, where World War II and the Cold War overlap in a surreal jumble of historical fragments.
Where to start telling these stories?
A month later, in San Francisco for meetings, I caught a story in the paper about the Collins Foundation B-17, B-24 and P-51 classic World War II Warbirds at Moffett Field. Just a half hour drive away.
The B-17. I flew thousands of missions in that airplane, all in my imagination, as a child, fired up by episodes of Twelve O’Clock High.
I was captivated by the airplane immortalized in books and movies — Big Week, Memphis Belle, The War Lover.
On the other end of our pen, my son, co-pilot and co-writer Carlo has stories to share about a different kind of lift, and the magic of his dream job come true! A lot of things have been going right for him, and he has been tremendously, happily busy too!
And I still need to write about the wonderful flight in a Cirrus SR22 last February (I finally got to fly Angelina Jolie’s airplane!).
Then there was the hair-raising aerial adventure Carlo had with a malfunctioning pitot-static system, our enchanting flight to an island far out in the Pacific Ocean, and one of the most cherished aerobatics I’ve ever flown with Meynard, my aerobatic instructor. We have in-cockpit video of that one.
There’s a lot to read and see, so watch this (air)space!
Posted from Bangkok, June 4, 2010