Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Riders of the Wind by Robert DeBurgh

   Historical Fiction Adventure

Riders of the Wind is an epic novel of adventure and romance set in the scene of aviation during the turbulent times of the nineteen twenties and thirties. The book follows the lives of Charles and Doretta Cross through the era of the great depression, prohibition, the airmail, and the formation of the infant airlines. It graphically portrays the danger, excitement and romance of flight in the pioneering years before World War Two and takes the reader into the cockpit with the airmail pilots of the twenties and the airline route survey pilots flying the heart of the Amazon jungles. . The reader will experience the golden age of aviation including the great air races, rumrunning, the birth of the airlines, exploration in the jungles of Brazil and much more. This novel is filled with romance, adventure, humor, sadness and mysticism, something for everyone. A “must read” for anyone interested in aviation or, for that matter, anyone who is merely interested in the history, dress and lifestyle of the pre-WWII era. This is the first novel of the epic “Riders of the Wind” series.

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INTERVIEW 

Tell us about your current release.

   Riders Of The Wind is an epic novel of adventure and romance set in the scene of aviation during the turbulent times of the nineteen twenties and thirties. The book follows the lives of Charles and Doretta Cross through the era of the great depression, prohibition, the airmail, and the formation of the infant airlines. It graphically portrays the danger, excitement and romance of flight in the pioneering years before World War Two and takes the reader into the cockpit with the airmail pilots of the twenties and the airline route survey pilots flying the heart of the Amazon jungles. A “must read” for anyone interested in aviation or, for that matter, anyone who is merely interested in the history, dress and lifestyle of the pre-WWII era.



   Winds of Fate, The second novel in the series is now in publication and tells the continuing story of Charles Cross and his wife, Doretta during the WWII years and their lives and adventures in the skies over India, Burma and China.  Winds of Fate tells of Charlie’s life as a pilot for Air Transport Command flying the difficult and dangerous Hump operations over the Himalayas and tells Doretta’s story as a pilot and instructor for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), an equally dangerous duty. Both novels are packed with action, adventure, romance, joy and tragedy set against the background of aviation.


Tell us about your next release.




   The Winds of Kunlun Shan  is book three in the series and follows our characters through China during the early post-war years during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The novel includes a romance begun during WWII, a spy story and a chase across western China during the famine of 1946, culminating in the crossing of one of the world’s deadliest deserts; the Taklamakan and over the Kunlun Shan mountains into the Kingdom of Mustang.. This novel should keep readers on the edge of their seats for all of the 500 odd pages. Release is due in late summer of this year.


Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

The person who inspired me most to begin writing was my high school literature teacher who was a published author herself and mentored me through the first sci-fi stories I had published while still in high school.


Who is your favorite author?


I cannot pick one favorite author but one of my favorites is Ernest Hemingway, another would be Ken Follett and a third would be Ernest K. Gann.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?


I think the hardest part of writing my books is the research necessary to keep them historically correct. Since my novels are based on historical events and some historical characters, I find it necessary to take great pains on the research.


What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?


(According to my wife) She is very proud of me and does all she can to help with proofreading and editing. She also helps with the formatting required for publication because that is all Greek to me. The dogs don’t seem to care one way or the other.


Who are your books published with?


The ebooks are published with Smashwords, Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble. The print versions are with Createspace.

How do you describe your writing style?

I describe myself as a descriptive writer. I like to bring my reader into a scene as if he or she was there in actuality. I try not to use too much in the way of allegory or metaphor and try to write my dialogue as if the reader was listening to a conversation.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

I do use a pen name, which is Robert F. DeBurgh. I chose it because it is the original family name that dates from the eleventh century. At the time that I began writing under Robert DeBurgh, I was writing some articles that could have posed a conflict with my former career and the name just stuck.


Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it?  If so, can you share it?



THE VALLEY

Charlie was lost; there was no doubt about it. He was not merely disoriented nor was it his imagination, he was definitely lost. He had left Newark two hours ago bound for Elmira on a night express mail route in an unfamiliar airplane on a run he had never flown before, over terrain that was unknown to him and unfriendly, to say the least. He should have known better.

Pitcairn Aviation had inherited the plane, route and pilot from a small mail contractor who had gone broke. The plane was an almost new Boeing model 95 biplane. With a wingspan of nearly forty-five feet, it was physically large, powered by a five hundred twenty five horsepower Pratt and Whitney Hornet engine that gave plenty of performance. Equipped for instrument flight, it had the newest in radio gear plus all necessary lighting and instruments.

The route was not a particularly difficult one but over much mountainous terrain, which offered no safe haven to the airman in trouble. It was off the regular airways so there were no lighted beacons to follow and only one emergency field about mid distance to Elmira.

The pilot who had been regularly flying this run was Tony Rispoli, a highly qualified, reliable airman who had been unfortunate enough to come down with the grippe the preceding day. Not having a reserve pilot who was familiar with the area it was Charlie’s job to make the trip himself. A simple, straight line two and a half-hour flight, but not so simple when one factored in the weather.

There was snow forecast over the Catskills, possibly heavy at times, winds from the southwest at twenty miles per hour, gusting to thirty-five at Elmira. No one knew what the winds aloft over the mountains were but obviously Charlie had underestimated them. Therefore, he was well and truly lost.

He was flying now with no forward visibility whatever in an intense snowstorm, the wind and turbulence rocking and shaking the big aircraft so badly Charlie could hardly focus on the instruments. He tried again to tune the radio to the standard broadcast station at Elmira. All he heard in his headset was snow static, a rush and hiss of the discharge of static electricity from the friction of the snow brushing by the plane.

Charlie figured that the wind had blown him north of his intended course but he had no idea how far. He switched on his landing light to see nothing but streaks of snow speeding by and a halo of snow reflected red and green by the navigation lights on his wingtips.

It doesn’t look like I’m getting any ice, thank goodness. I guess the snow’s too dry. It’s the heavy wet stuff that builds up on the wings and brings an aircraft down.

He looked at his fuel gauge, finding that there was at least three-quarters of a tank left. At least this thing carries a lot of fuel. I think I’m gonna need it tonight.

He looked on top of the panel where the cat and duck reposed in their usual position and smiled at them. Boy, I wish that story was true, I’d love to just throw that duck overboard and follow him down. Just my luck he’d find a lake to land in. Think I’ll make a course correction to the left about ten degrees, fly for another twenty minutes and if I don’t see anyplace to let down to get my bearings, I’ll turn south into flat country, at least flatter country. Maybe I’ll find a hole once I get out of these mountains.

When I run out of fuel, then I may consider bailing out, maybe not. I’ve never lost an airplane, I’ve no intention of losing this one. Wish that damn engine didn’t sound so funny.

The hairs on the back of his neck began to stand up with the vague feeling of apprehension pilots develop when they know some trouble is impending but just can’t put their finger on the problem, a pilot’s sixth sense.

Charlie came to the conclusion that the Pratt and Whitney just had a different tone to the exhaust than the Wright engines and forgot about it for the moment. He made his course change, peering into the snow blown blackness ahead to no avail. There was nothing visible in front of the airplane, although he could see a little straight down.

Without warning there was great gout of flame from the exhaust that lit the entire underside of the Boeing followed by a streamer of heavy smoke. The engine died with a clanking rattle, seizing solid with the prop stopped in a diagonal position. Charlie knew the symptoms, a connecting rod had let go, jamming the rest of the internals of the engine. His grip on the stick tightened and his heart rate jumped one hundred percent. He didn’t panic though, going through the procedures for engine failure at altitude as if it were a practice drill.

Fuel off, magnetos off, leave the master switch on for when I need the landing lights, establish best glide speed. What the heck is it on this plane anyway? Let’s see, it stalls at fifty-six, about sixty-five ought to do it. Let down in a shallow spiral and we may see what we’re going to hit and be able to avoid it. Cat and duck, do your stuff!

Four thousand feet. How high are these mountains here anyhow? C’mon Charlie, use some sense and bail out now while you still have the altitude. Not a chance there’s too many lakes and forests around these mountains. I can just picture me hanging up in a tree for the rest of the winter, frozen stiff as a board and scaring some hikers when I thaw out in the spring. Nope, I’ll ride ‘er down.

At three thousand feet he broke out of the overcast to see in the dim snow light that he was surrounded by mountains. He had descended into a narrow defile only about a mile wide between ridgelines. Most of the mountain peaks were now above him, obscured by cloud. Looking down he could see nothing but trees and they were approaching rapidly.

Oh hell, there’s no place to land this thing, just stall ‘er into the treetops straight ahead I guess.

Time had seemingly slowed to a crawl, a thousand thoughts going through Charlie’s mind in an instant; thoughts of home, warmth and safety, thoughts of Doretta, how heartbroken she’d be if he were killed or badly hurt. At that instant something seemed to touch him on his right shoulder. Looking around to see what it could be Charlie spied a small clearing that seemed to be just within gliding distance. Turning toward it he saw that it was way too short and way too close.

“Well I can’t do anything about the short but I can sure do something about it being too close,” he said aloud.

He slammed the stick to the right and the rudder to the left, putting the Boeing into an all out sideslip. He dropped like a stone, kicking the plane straight just before he touched down at the edge of the clearing. They bounced once, slewing sideways. He kicked the rudder to straighten his course toward the far edge of the field.

Oh shit, too short, too short, too short and too damn fast.

The big aircraft plowed through the drifted snow, throwing plumes high into the air. Just before they reached the trees at the end of the field the landing gear struck something buried in the snow. The wheel broke off, spinning the charging plane around to the left so the right wing was the first part of the ship to hit a tree. The wing snapped off like a twig to the accompaniment of the sounds of breaking wood, tearing fabric and the screech of rending metal. The headlong slide of the Boeing came to an end with the side of the fuselage against a tree that caved in the area just ahead of the cockpit.

Charlie’s head snapped forward on the first impact, smashing against the instrument panel. He never felt his leg snap or the steel tube that penetrated his calf. Except for the muted hiss of falling snow silence once again reigned in the tiny valley.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert F. DeBurgh was born and grew up in the northeastern United States. From a very early age his entire life has been dedicated to aviation, from flying airplanes himself as a professional pilot to writing about the people who fly them. His first recollection of flight is sitting on his aunt’s lap in the front seat of an open cockpit biplane flown by his uncle at the tender age of five.


He learned to fly at age fifteen, and obtained his commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates at eighteen.   After completing his military service he returned to college and obtained graduate degrees in psychology, sociology and education and a master of arts in psychology, supporting himself and paying his tuition by doing what he loved best, flight instruction and writing about aviation.


His writings have included aviation and sports car columns for several newspapers, many articles for American and foreign magazines, short stories in the realm of adventure, science fiction and fantasy and much poetry. He has  also worked as associate editor for “American Roadracing Magazine.” At the present time he writes articles for “Indian Aviation Magazine” and several US magazines and is the author of the widely acclaimed novels, Riders of the Wind and Winds of Fate. In each of these novels DeBurgh has woven a tale of high adventure set against an accurate background of actual historical events. His new novel, The Winds of Kunlun Shan, due to be released in the summer of 2012, is the third book in the Riders of the Wind series.

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