Monthly Archives: April 2012

Flying high with John J. Nance

 

Planes at Orly airport

"Big ol' jet airliner/Don't carry me too far away..." Image courtesy of Nino Andonis, Morguefile

Maybe it’s all the hoopla over NASA’s space shuttles winging their way to their new homes, but I’ve had aviation on my mind this week. I’ve always felt that there’s something magical about planes — their majestic size and their ability to whisk you away to a new country and culture. And going to an airport is an education; I like to explore the airport prior to boarding, watch my fellow passengers, and make entertaining guesses about where they’re from and what they do for a living.

(Okay, so it’s no fun being squashed into a flying aluminum can, people, but the arrival makes it all worthwhile. I need to have a serious chat with Boeing about giving us more legroom in the economy section. Wonder if they like chocolate?)

As a pilot and aviation expert, author John J. Nance understands the world of aviation — both for passengers and for airline crew — and it shows in his novels. He is the classic example of “write what you know”.

I like just about everything the man writes, because Nance tells a great story and he’s the perfect relaxing read after a long week. Pandora’s Clock and Medusa’s Child are my favorites. In Pandora’s Clock, a passenger is infected with a deadly virus and no airport will allow the jet to land. In Medusa’s Child, five people are trapped on a cargo plane with a nuclear bomb that has been rigged to explode if a pacemaker in one of the passengers travels too far away from the bomb. Both books were made into movies, which is how I first heard about John J. Nance.

However, I have my doubts about reading Nance’s novels when I’m actually on a plane. I wouldn’t want to risk real life imitating art! (Just kidding, people.) And can somebody please tell me, because I’m curious: How did the space shuttle Discovery stay attached to its transport plane? Cables? Brackets? Really BIG glue gun? I still haven’t figured it out.

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