Monday, January 11, 2010


This one will date me. Remember Idlewild? Remember when air travel was exotic? I can still visually recall my first trip in an airplane, we were heading for my sister's graduation in Minnesota. It was a prop jet. The sensation of weightlessness as we lifted off was exhilarating. I even enjoyed the turbulence. Those were the days . . .

Amelia was correct in predicting that flying would become routine. It has, much to my chagrin. But by setting my book in 1980 I give Amelia a chance to find a little fading glamor. She wants to get back into the cockpit, but to do so means catching up with forty plus years of aeronautic innovation. So she heads for the local airports; she haunts (okay I know this is too apt a verb) JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. She befriends crews as they get their breakfast, she chats them up and knows what questions to pose, but really she lets people talk and they talk about what they do and what they love. She's an excellent listener.

I used to find airports romantic. Waiting for a flight out, I'd find a spot where I could watch the planes as they took off. The most powerful dreams I ever had were flying dreams, in those I didn't need a plane. I just lifted off and soared.

I haven't had that dream in more years than I care to think about. But I feel that sensation sometimes, writing. That pure energy, that sense of losing myself. You lose yourself to find yourself, or so they say. I really hope it's true and now, back to Amelia and her search for a pilot's license . . .


  1. Is she searching for a pilot license under a fictitious name? If she's still using her real name, she doesn't have to get a new license. Pilot licenses don't expire, they just have to be kept fresh with recurrent education. What she would need to get current for flying small general aviation aircraft (i.e., not jetliners) in 1980 is some classroom or textbook instruction in the national airspace structure, instruction in the use of VOR or NDB navigation if her plane is so equipped, and a reading of the latest Federal Aviation Regulations. Plus a checkout in the particular make and model of plane she's going to use.
    Am I being too literal?

  2. No you're not,but how can she really use her own name . . .you see there's the rub, she's been declared dead for one thing, for another she's knows enough to realize that saying she's who she is will cause people to think she's well . . .nuts. So she has to invent another identity, then use it to gain access to a small plane. I have her heading for Teterboro. I know how to build an identity from scratch, there are ways, but I don't know how long it would take for her to get into the cockpit, I have her insinuating herself into the airport in a convenient though unusual way and then getting "lessons" from a willing source. Any input is greatly appreciated, even fiction has to have some basis in reality. Even fiction where ghosts come to life . . .

  3. If there's a flight school at Teterboro, all she has to do is sign up for lessons. Legally she needs to pass a written test and get 20 hours of flight instruction, 10 hours of solo practice, and another 10 hours of some combination of the two, then pass a flight test, to get her private license. I suspect she'll breeze through it. Today's training planes aren't greatly different from hers, except that they're easier to land than the "taildraggers" she flew. (Two wheels in the front and one small wheel under the tail.) If the weather permits flight lessons every day, she could get the whole thing done in a month or two. Most people require far more than the legal minimum of 40 hours to become proficient enough to pass the flight test, so her instructor will probably be pretty impressed with her aptitude. She might even be praised as a "veritable Amelia Earhart." :)

  4. I think it means you're in your element when you're writing if you get that sense of pure energy like in flying dreams. It does seem ironic that when you're so lost in the "flying" of writing that you lose yourself,and in that loss you find yourself, but I relate totally to what you're saying. It seems funny that in those moments that we lose ourselves- in creativity, or even in great sex, or in some mundane moment of total absorption in what we're doing- that we feel we have actually found ourselves. I love this oddity of finding ourselves in losing ourselves.

  5. Vis a vis the flying lessons at Teterboro, great info and thanks. It's what I imagined but now I have confirmation. I did think she'd breeze through, how could she not, right? For her job at Teterboro, well stay tuned . . . and as for writing and being in one's element, I do love when it happens, so much of the time it's a job, but sometimes the prose sings. As for losing one's self in great sex. . .yes, that works too.