THE RISKIEST CAREER OF THEM ALL.
More military pilots die in training than at war.
Air Force Reserve Major Ford Stevens is a veteran military pilot, upholding the prestigious family practice of service to the nation in the face of danger.
His younger brother, Charlie, a fresh Lieutenant out of pilot training, joins the family tradition seeking to prove himself.
With the rivalry still strong, all he wanted to do was follow his big brother’s footsteps…
Now, Charlie joins his brother Ford in the same flying squadron, both men putting their lives on the line each time they strap in the jet, whether in peace or war.
It will be an initiation by fire as they hunt a saboteur killing aircrew, uniting the competitive brothers in the ultimate test of life and death…
“Ford Stevens is giving Jack Ryan (the recurring hero from Tom Clancy thrillers) a run for his money for the title “coolest patriot on the block.” -Frank “Gus” Biggio, Author of The Wolves of Helmand
LAWRENCE A. COLBY
- This caught my eye. MILITARY FLYING–THE RISKIEST CAREER OF THEM ALL.
More military pilots die in training than at war. Is that really true?
Unfortunately, yes, it is true. The military reported just over 1000 major mishaps last year, a slight decline from 1,036 in 2018. Regarding aviation loss of life, the military lost a total of 13 service members who died in mishaps last year. The year prior, we lost 39 aircrew. In a recent example, six Marines died in a 2018 aerial refueling collision when the tanker and fighter jet collided. It is a dangerous and unforgiving business.
Sometimes aircraft maintenance issues cause the errors, other times it is the pilot or an aircrew error. Causes can be all over the map, from weather to not flying enough. This novel has many themes, and one of them is on the mishap investigation process and what it is like to help determine the cause of an accident.
My point in writing the opening line you’re asking about is that high-performance flying is very dangerous, whether you are in peacetime or wartime. The danger is real 100% of the time, day or night, sun or rain. You have to be on your game, all the time, when you are in the aircraft.
- In The Buffalo Pilot, how does the family tradition affect the relationship between Air Force Reserve Major Ford Stevens and his brother Charlie?
Some people say that it’s lonely at the top when you’re in charge. Modern day management and leadership books discuss this very issue. It’s tough being in a leadership position, and what makes it tougher is when you have family members in the same organization. It’s a unique dynamic. The person in the leadership or managerial role can’t play favorites, and you have to enforce the rules and maintain the same standards as everyone else.
I thought it would be a unique look at the human condition to focus on this struggle for a story. Our squadron commander, Ford Stevens, now has his younger brother, Charlie, in the flying unit.
Many readers may not know that family members do serve in the same Reserve and Air National Guard units across our 54 states and territories.
- Since this is your third book, has your writing process changed since penning The Devil Dragon Pilot?
I still follow the same process by scouring current events in the news, being curious about why certain decisions are made in the military, business or government, and devour books in a variety of genres. My personal reading load has increased to about 60 books a year and split maybe 75% non-fiction and 25% fiction. If I combine my reading load with long-distance running, the ideas flow.
Generating a rough outline to give a good start helps, but I learned from author David Baldacci to never stick to it and not divert. I never really know where the characters will take me. Observing and being curious is the special combo, and the ideas are everywhere for that certain character accent, piece of clothing or major storyline. For “The Buffalo Pilot,” the connection to organized crime will catch people off guard. One just needs to look around to find the ideas for their own writing process.
- What’s the best thing about writing military aviation thrillers?
The military is just a smaller snapshot of American society. Working in human characteristics of topics like alcoholism, cancer, PTSD, unique family dynamics, and career success and failure, and linking it to a dangerous career such as flying, is what makes a story come off as authentic. These are real situations that many people are faced with in life, and sometimes dangerous professions have the same challenges as non-dangerous professions. Writing about the highs and lows of the flying professions, the people in them, and their families, is what makes the stories unique. While my stories do have heroes, I like to focus on their faults as well. The readers tell me that’s what keeps it real, and what I like to refer to as being authentic. Because I wore the flight suit as a pilot, I write from personal experience.
- What’s one thing you’d like readers to know about The Buffalo Pilot?
“The Buffalo Pilot” focuses on the men and women of the Reserve Component portion of the U.S. military. You would never know by looking at someone uniform if they serve in the Air Guard, Reserves, or in the Active Component on full-time active duty. These are the men and women in your communities who serve in a traditional, part-time capacity, but do a full-workload that’s not known to many neighbors.
These Reserve Component members work nights, weekends, and go away for weeks and months at a time, while maintaining the same standards. They also have entire separate careers in every job field imaginable, and leave their jobs and family to serve in the military when they are called. It’s a real sacrifice that often goes unnoticed in the media, film, and television works.
I wanted to highlight this sacrifice and give credit though this third book to my former flying squadron, the 914th Air Wing at Niagara Falls. A tremendous group of individuals from western New York, mostly Niagara Falls, Rochester, and Buffalo. I loved these fellow aircrew and this novel is a nod to them.