Sunday, August 06, 2006
One of the good things about writing books is that it gives you an excuse to do lots of fun things that you might otherwise have no reasonable excuse to do.
As part of my research for the new book, African Sky I was able to track down the owners of two vintage WWII Harvard training aircraft - a type used to train pilots for the allied air forces in Australia, Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) and Canada.
Jeff Mueller showed me around his Harvard at Bankstown Airport and answered a whole host of research questions, including how to go about sabotaging an aeroplane such as his. I think Jeff enjoyed that bit, in a strange sort of way. He was also able to tell me how to crash land a Harvard - something he's had to do himself (not by choice).
Afterwards, Jeff took Mrs Blog up for a joyflight, during which he did some rolls (upside down stuff) and pretended to straff some enemy bunkers around Blacktown and shoot down a Japanese Zero over Prospect Reservoir (Mrs Blog enjoyed that bit, immensely). All this was for a good cause, as Pip Lovejoy, plucky, sexy heroin of African Sky gets involved in a dog fight in a Harvard during her first every flight in an aeroplane, so Mrs Blog relayed her breathless feelings about the flight and I got to take notes.
When the book came out, I thought it would be good to get some PR pictures taken with a Harvard. Jeff had sold his by then (he's upgrading to an ex Russian air force jet and practising his emergcency landing drills!) but he put me on to Norm Longfield, who owns a Harvard at Hoxton Park Airport in Western Sydney.
So it was, that I got to do some more serious plane spotting and have my picture taken with Norm's magnificent, shiny specimen of a Harvard (above). I can't fly, but I like to hang out with guys who can, and live out my Biggles fantasies.