#mothersday #avgeek #aviation #blog
Today we honor those daring young women in their flyin' machines!
This pilot biz is tough enough as it is. Wannabe pilots spend years of training and tens of thousands of dollars on the mere hope of a successful airline career. But, historically, this has been a notoriously "macho" business. From before the days of Amelia Earhart, "aviatrixes" have had to contend with that great glass ceiling in the sky—every single day they strap into the cockpit.
To that end, today we honor those women—many of them mommies—who have had a hand in this tough business. Some are pilots, some are flight attendants, some are "stay at home pilot's wives"...but ALL have overcome the odds to "make it!"
Karlene Petitt, over at "Flight to Success" (http://karlenepetitt.blogspot.com), is an A330 pilot for a major U.S. airline, and is a very prolific blogger and succesful author of the novel, Flight for Control. In her own words: "A wife of 31 years, mother of 3 gorgeous daughters, grandmother of Kadence, Miles, Khoyn, Carter, Ellis and Anthony. A pilot for 8 airlines, 7 type ratings, 2 masters degrees, and my 1st novel, Flight For Control, is published!" Mrs. Petitt is now working on the first sequel, Flight For Safety.
Just this past week on our wildly popular BLOGGING IN FORMATION series, Mrs. Petitt wrote about her struggles as a female dreaming to be a pilot, in a time when "girls don't fly." Read it here: http://tinyurl.com/bp534ye
Here's to YOU, Mommy Petitt!
—and, where do you find the time?
—and, where do you find the time?
Joanna over at "Daddy...Daddy, Come Back!" (http://comebackdaddy.blogspot.com/) and "Pilot Wife Healthy Minute Meals" (http://pilotwifehealthyminutemeals.blogspot.com/) blogs quite candidly about the life of a pilot's wife and mommy—warts and all. Her life is not for the faint hearted!
Happy Mommy's Day, Joanna!
Another aviation blogger and mommy is the host of one of my all-time favorite blogs...Miss TWA of http://misstwa.blogspot.com. She's got a wonderful, zany, haphazard writing style that is sure to put a smile on any readers' face...
even if we all really do "Miss TWA!"
Happy Mother's Day, Miss T!
I would especially like to thank one of my personal favorites, Mary "Mug" Ann, who has been specially trained to serve ol' Cap'n Aux his coffee in a preheated mug! Uh, that is, as long as Cap'n Aux is nice to her first!
Between flying the often un-friendly skies and rasing her three rambunctious, twenty-something boys, Ms. Ann finds the time to be a competetive body builder—who consistently places in the Top 3!
Happy Mother's Day, Mary Mug!
Mary Mug's eldest son, Gino, is the talented graphic designer of the excellent new cover for The Last Bush Pilots!
And speaking of the Last Bush Pilots, one of my readers' most beloved characters is a female "aviatrix" trying to cut a respectable niche in the notoriously macho bush pilot world—while escaping a dangerous past.
We'll wrap up this tribute to our favorite female aviators with her story:
(Warning: this story is seriously PG-13+!)
CHAPTER 8: Veronica Onassis Redding
The day her husband backhanded her into the china cabinet was not the day she left him. Nor was it the time he bragged to her of the many waitresses on his truck route impatiently awaiting his services. Nor the day he forced her to bare her breasts in front of his buddies to show off his prized property. Not even the time he threw his plate of roast turkey back at her for being too cold, sending her to the emergency room for eight stitches to the forehead. Afterward, she apologized to him for being so clumsy and inattentive to his needs, and he forgave her by mounting her briefly until getting off.
For Veronica Redding to leave her loving husband, it nearly took suicide.
Ever since she was a kid, Veronica dreamed of flying. She would sit on her father’s shoulders and stick her arms out to each side, blonde locks flying and lips Brrr-ing as he trotted through the park. When she was five, he took her on a small plane tour over their home town of Los Angeles.
Veronica was awestruck. All those cars below looked like toy matchboxes, the people like ants. The thrill of accelerating and pulling away from the earth’s gravity, like an angel flying to heaven. And, perhaps most thrilling of all, the powerful aircraft responded so obediently to the pilot’s commands. It was nothing short of magic. She trembled with delight when, after the flight, the grey-haired pilot pinned a pair of plastic wings to her blouse.
Little did Daddy know, from that day on the hook was set. Veronica was determined to become a pilot.
Later, Sergeant Robert Redding, U.S. Army, realized how serious his daughter was of the fool notion. He sat her down on his knee and explained.
He said, “Honey, girls don’t become pilots. All pilots come from the Air Force or the Army or Navy. There is no such thing as an airline aviatrix.”
“But what about Amelia Earhart, Daddy? She did it,” she said.
He laughed. “Sure, and look what happened. Her dingy, female sense of direction got herself lost at sea.”
At high school, guidance counselors, male and female alike, also urged her to reconsider her crazy dream and instead become something more palatable with society. Say, a homemaker or a nurse.
But their “sage advice” clashed head-on with her dream, and she would have nothing of it.
One night at the dinner table, the Sergeant learned of the counsellors’ talk and his daughter’s disappointment. He said, “Look, if you really want to fly, why not become a stewardess?”
Mother lay a hand on hers. “Your father’s right, dear. Who knows? Maybe you could find a rich husband that way, maybe even a real pilot.”
Shaking her head, she said, “I don’t wanna marry a pilot. I want to be a pilot.”
He slammed his fork down. “Enough of this nonsense,” her father snapped.
“Now, Sam,” her mother interjected. “Let’s not—”
“She’ll do what I tell her to do,” he said.
“Yes, sir,” Mother said meekly.
Veronica threw her fork down. “I’ll do what I want, goddamnit!” She bit her lip, too late to catch the slip.
Crimson-faced, the Sergeant raised up, his shadow eclipsing her small frame. He slapped her so hard she fell to the floor.
“Go to your room,” he boomed, “and don’t come out till you stop talking your idiotic little girl nonsense.”
Veronica sat at her vanity mirror, eyeing the welt as it grew and colored on the side of her face. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the plastic wings pinned to the wooden frame.
Perhaps Daddy was right, she thought. Girls, especially stupid ones like little Veronica Redding, didn’t have the capacity to become pilots. She blushed in shame. She yanked the wings off, tossed them in the bottom drawer and mumbled, “Might as well try to be an astronaut.”
She became despondent, lost, a plane without a rudder. Her grades dropped. Each night she came home late, in deliberate defiance of her father’s authority. He spanked her, whipped her, grounded her; she would sneak out again. Each confrontation drove the wedge further between the two. After her high school graduation party, she didn’t come home until late the next day, still drunk.
“You’re impossible, young lady,” her father screamed between belt straps. “What you need is boot camp. First thing Monday morning, we’re taking you to the recruiters and you’re joining the Army. Teach you some discipline. Hah! Try telling them you want to be a pilot.”
That Monday, Veronica snuck out early, withdrew her life savings from the bank, and left. Plastic wings pinned to her backpack, she stuck a thumb out on the interstate.
She was seventeen, but a very naive and sheltered seventeen. She was heartbroken, scared, lonely. And strangely relieved.
Liberated, somehow. She could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. Her destiny lay in the power of her own tiny hands. Remembering her silly old dream, she chuckled. “Hell, I could even become an aviatrix,” she mumbled with a roll of the eyes. But she knew she was too poor and too stupid. Daddy had made sure she knew that.
In a truck stop between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, her plans—and her life—derailed.
His name was John Bolt, and like his namesake, he struck her like lightning. He was tall, handsome, suave and worldly. He had traveled all over the States in his rig, and he made it sound as exciting as a flying circus.
Spellbound, she lost herself in his endless, dark brown eyes. From beneath a crop of slick black hair, they blazed at her with enthusiasm.
With one comment, he hooked her. He said, “Drivin’ a big rig’s like bein’ captain of an airplane.”
Bolt bought the starving, wide-eyed girl a slice of lemon meringue pie and reeled her in. He said, “You’re your own boss. You take orders from nobody. And you can go damn well wherever you please.” He sat back and crossed his arms. “Hell, it ain’t no big thing. Why a cute little missy like you could do it.”
Drive an eighteen-wheeler! So maybe it wasn’t an airplane, she thought, but it seemed the closest she’d ever get. That night she left with him.
In the same night, she learned to drive a big rig and please a man.
The next two months were pure bliss. Everything seemed so right. In Reno, days after her eighteenth birthday, Miss Veronica Redding became Mrs. John Bolt. His next road trip became their honeymoon, after which he moved her into his small Ulysses, Kansas trailer.
She called her parents to tell them the good news. Against her mother’s pleas, the Sergeant hung up on her. Abandoned, all she had left was her new husband.
But Mr. Bolt soon tired of the new Mrs. Bolt. He began leaving her at home on trips. And when he returned, his home never seemed to be in the order he liked. She could do nothing right by him. The young bride’s cooking was atrocious, he told her, and any decision on her part turned into disaster. He made sure she knew, both physically and mentally, that he had married a worthless mess.
For six years she endured his abuse. She couldn’t remember a world without John Bolt. Each time he left on a trip, she dreaded his return yet longed for it, never knowing whether he would walk through the door bearing flowers or fists. She filled the void of his absence with cigarettes and alcohol and food. Over the years, she loaded her thin frame down with pounds of physical and emotional baggage.
His trips became longer. Days went by without a phone call. Finally, after two weeks away without a word, he called to tell her he’d picked up yet another run.
“When will you come home?” she asked him, her voice pleading, her words slurred by vodka.
“Come home to what?” he snapped. “A fat, drunken pig in a stye? I’ll be back sometime next week, if I feel like it. Hell, I may never feel like it.” He hung up.
She flew into a blind rage. Minutes later, she sat crumpled on the floor in a pile of shattered dishes, broken ceramic statuettes and smashed bottles of booze. Through the alcoholic fog and the raining tears, she realized that, upon seeing the mess, he would kill her. Or worse, leave her for good.
Might as well spare him the pain, she thought.
She crawled through the rubble to John’s gun cabinet. With trembling fist, she pounded the glass until it shattered. She did not feel her sliced palm. When she retracted her hand, it held an ancient Colt .45 handgun, loaded. She put it to her head.
Everything went dark.
She was an angel now, her spirit flying away from her dead, battered human carcass, up through the roof and into the heavens. She looked down and saw John Bolt. He yelled at her to come back down, fists shaking above his head in rage. But from way up here, her husband’s voice sounded comically high. His rig looked like a matchbox, and he like an ant.
She woke up laughing. She had no idea how long she had passed out. Veronica looked at her hand. The glass cuts, while deep, wouldn’t be permanent. She stared at the pistol for one long minute. She again lifted it and aimed, this time at a photo hanging on the wall. A photo of John Bolt.
She pulled the trigger. The rusty hammer jammed. She looked at the gun quizzically. Suddenly, the hammer dropped. A loud explosion ripped through her ears. The kick knocked the pistol from her hand. Once again everything went dark; the bullet had hit the table lamp.
Her mouth, open in astonishment, slowly changed to a faint smile, then a larger one, then a Cheshire grin. The grin turned to a chuckle, then a laugh. She guffawed hysterically, rolling on the floor, her hands wrapped about her stomach.
She picked herself off the floor, walked to the bathroom, and showered for the last time in John Bolt’s home. She dressed the wounds on her hand, then dug through her junk drawer.
Finally she found it, buried in the back. Her most prized possession: her plastic wings. She pinned them to her chest.
She wrote him a ’Dear John’ letter. This note, however, read slightly different:
Dear Auntie Em,
Hate you. Hate Kansas. Left for Oz.
In three days she hocked his car, pawned his furniture, cleaned out his bank account and maxed every credit card with cash advance. That done, she took one final look around the wrecked and deserted home.
“To hell with you,” she said, and left for the farthest place from Kansas she could think of: Alaska.
From Anchorage she called her mother. Her father grabbed the receiver and yelled, “It was unforgivable of you to marry that man without our consent. But even so, a wife should be loyal to her husband under any circumstances. And now you have the gall to call us and blame him for your failure.”
This time it was she who hung up.
Divorce was foremost on her mind, but she feared the proceedings would flush her out. To her great relief, she found that her marriage had never existed; there had been a previous Mrs. John Bolt, and still was.
Nevertheless, she knew her life was still in danger. She cut and dyed her California locks and became just another Alaska brunette. But appearance alone was not enough to escape him.
By court order of the State of Alaska, Miss Veronica Onassis Redding became Miss Holly Shannon Innes.
At an abuse crisis center in Fairbanks, Holly Innes began intense therapy. But more than shrink sessions and weight loss regimens were needed to rebuild her.
Her counselor quickly found the key. At Fairbanks International Airport, he enrolled her in flight school.
The change was dramatic and immediate. Her first day of flying did more for her mental recovery than a year of therapy. The booty snatched from John Bolt paid for lessons. How appropriate, she thought, to use a nightmare to bankroll a dream.
After her first solo flight, she wept tears of joy.
For more info and more sample chapters, visit http://lastbushpilots.com
To view and order on Amazon:
—in Print: https://www.createspace.com/4053153
—on Kindle/ebook: http://goo.gl/yVHJV
50% of proceeds go to Alaska charity!
"Sunrise at Altitude"
A special video tribute to our wonderful moms out there!
Direct link: http://youtu.be/355idJjmvkY
This post is dedicated to the life of my wonderful momma Lois
|L-R: Birthday brother Allen, sis Patty, Cap'n Aux, Momma Aux, birthday brother Gary|
Here's to all of you wonderful "Aviatrixes!"
Happy Mother's Day!
Posting May 15 @ 11:00 PHX: