Sunday, August 4, 2013

Flight Club - Interview with Author/Pilot Wayne Epperson

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Fiona- 
Hi there!

Wayne -
Good afternoon.

Fiona -
It's pouring down rain with some magnificent thunder here - how are things in Texas?

Wayne - 
The heat index is going to hit 104 or so. Hot and dry.

Fiona - 
As a Canadian girl, can I just say that I only go visit my in-laws down in Longview at Christmas for a reason? So you're dry and hot - LOL what else should my blog readers know about you, Wayne?
Map to indicate Texas for my non-American readers

Wayne - 
Not much interesting to tell. Former U.S. Marine, long-time newspaper editor, private pilot, author of two crime fiction books with a third one due out in October.

Fiona
Now see, when you say, "not much interesting to tell" - I think you're going to drone on Babbitt-like about your work-a-day life, and then you sound like the heart-throb in a Texas western.that okay? 

Wayne - 
Getting up off the floor and dusting myself off. I wasn't expecting that.

Fiona -
Ha! Well today we're talking about flying.
What makes you crazy to read about planes or plane crashes that is just flat out wrong?

Wayne -
When someone says, "the plane just fell out of the sky." That doesn't happen. There's a sequence of failures, man-made or mechanical or both, that take place before a plane crashes. Here's an example:
A pilot approaching an airport to land turns from downwind to base and fails to maintain proper airspeed will likely stall the aircraft when banking to final approach. That stall leads to a spin too close to the ground to recover a safe altitude. The end result is the aircraft noses over and crashes. To a witness on the ground, it might look like the plane just fell out of the sky.

Fiona- 
And to the pilot it looks like his life is flashing before his eyes?

Wayne - 
No, he probably left a big smoking hole in the ground. Lights out.


VIDEO QUICK STUDY 747 Falling Out of the Sky (1:09)

Fiona - 
Have you ever had a close call?

Wayne - 
Not really close, but one time the engine cut out when I reduced power at altitude after takeoff. I simply pushed the throttle full forward, the engine returned to life, and I landed that sucker as fast as I could.


Fiona
Bravo!

Wayne -
The mechanic was happy to have the business.

Fiona -
Ha! Okay since you brought up plane crashes. It was posted on
a writers' board recently that an editor was insisting that the author have a huge fire in the cockpit after the plane crashed. Can you weigh in?

Wayne -  
Fire is the most feared thing for a pilot. Because, in flight, the oxygen from the rushing air will fan the flames. A pilot faced with that emergency will seek to land quickly. Following a crash, there could be a fire in the cockpit.

I recall a local training flight in the Dallas area where the student pilot, who was accompanied by an instructor, was forced to land because of mechanical failure. He chose to land in a plowed farm field, the fuel line ruptured spilling gasoline on the heated engine, and a fire ensued. They escaped with major burns.

Fiona - 
Wow! Horrific! Good for them escaping. I guess now they have a great bar story if that's any consolation.

Wayne - 
The aircraft was a four-seat trainer. The airlines are a different story. They have so many safety systems and redundant systems that make a cockpit fire less likely. 
What do you fly?

Wayne- 
I fly single-engine land puddle jumpers.



Fiona - 

And does Frank Knott from Crime and Corruption in Texas fly as well?



LINK to Crime and Corruption in Texas


Wayne - 
No, but his former Marine Corps buddy did.

Fiona - 
This is the one who was a good -guy turned not so good guy?

Wayne - 
And he did a lot of bad things behind the control wheel of a powerful Cessna twin-engine hauler.

Fiona - 
Would it be giving away too much if I asked what he was up to?

Wayne - 
Let's just say he was in a sort of pharmaceutical business. 

Fiona - 
LOL okay we'll go with that. What made you decide to get your pilot's license and can you tell us what it takes in terms of study and practice?

Wayne - 
I tried to be a pilot in the Marines, but was disqualified because I am partially color blind, a condition not uncommon for men. The Navy frowns on pilots not knowing which colors are which when they are told to "call the ball" on approach to an aircraft 
carrier deck. 

I finally scraped up the money to pay for my training as a civilian
private pilot where the color restrictions are not so severe. 

It takes a minimum of 40 hours of training before a student pilot can take a check ride with an FAA licensed examiner. It took me
something like 50 hours, which included a solo cross-country flight to an airport about 90 miles away. What did my training cost? I will
never put that number in writing.

Once the check ride is passed, the new pilot then really begins to learn what it means to be a pilot. The lessons never end. 


I just thought of another situation that is irksome.


Fiona -
Yes, please.

Wayne - 
Many fatal accidents of small aircraft involve bad weather. 

There was a case in East Texas a year or so ago where a family
of four was wiped out in a crash because the pilot father flew into
weather he was unable to navigate. He was not instrument rated
(trained to fly in the clouds) and his plane was not capable. 

That was a classic case of pilot error.


Fiona - 
Thank you - that makes sense. And from what my husband tells me of Texas weather, it can be unpredictable and violent.


Wayne - 
He's right. Another pet peeve is the writer being too lazy to research the type of aircraft involved in whatever kind of story. Too many times the reference is simply, "a Cessna private plane crashed." And the aircraft was a Bonanza. That drives a pilot nuts ... if he isn't already there.

Fiona - 
Ha! In my book, MISSING LYNX, I got to go to the airport and get on all the small planes to figure out which one I wanted to steal - I mean my character wanted to steal. Apparently, plane theft isn't all that hard to do.

Wayne - 
All airports have signs posted about reporting suspicious activities in and around the hangers or the tie-downs. Aircraft theft is a big business.

Fiona - 
Well, they are darned expensive. This is the part of the interview where you have a decision to make.

     1) You can tell me about your favorite scar. 

Or 2) you can tell me about your upcoming book.

Or 3) you can do both. 

Wayne - 
Frank Knott walked away from "Chasing Bad Guys" with a memorable scar, but we don't want to describe it here. 

The third book in the series is entitled "EPIC Justice." Frank goes
undercover at the El Paso Intelligence Center to find out who has been tipping off a powerful crime syndicate about smuggling opportunities on the border. Readers will be urging Frank to quit and go home, but there's no back up in this former Marine.

Fiona -
I'm posting a picture of your plane. 




Wayne at the controls of his Piper Cherokee 5398W

Wayne - 
I sold my plane. :'(

Fiona - 
Oh, now that's just pitiful. LOL. COWBOY UP!

Wayne - 
Your husband's from Texas? How did you end up in D.C.? And how's the ankle?

Fiona - 
Ah, the reporter in you is turning the tables. I wondered how long 
it would take. Thank you so much for being a guest here on ThrillWriting.

Wayne - 
Take care ... As pilots always say, "Good day."

Fiona - 
Why do they say that and not "sunny skies" or "safe landings"?

Wayne - 
Good day covers it all ... 




Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

5 comments:

  1. Enjoyed this post, especially since I just returned from Oshkosh. You can ask any pilot about this event, and they'll tell you it's probably the largest aviation event in the world with over 10,000 planes. We sleep under the wing of a friend's plane for ten days and generally just hang out with friends from all around the country. (Our plane is too young to park in Vintage with all our friends, so we borrow someone else's wing and park ours with the other newer planes (please note, I said "newer," not "new. Ours is a 1980 C-182.). It's a great event -- hard to describe unless you've seen it. Here's a link to the EAA website with a picture that funnily enough has our plane in it -- before they caught on that it was too new.

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    1. Oh the link and pictures didn't come through ... I'd love to see it! Can you try again? Thanks for posting! Fiona

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  2. As a pilot and author of airline thrillers, I too hate it when writers get aviation details wrong in their stories. Interesting post.

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  3. Informative and helpful as always! From our perspective we deal a lot with aircraft evacuation and rescue but very little with the different types of aircrafts. The concept that plane theft is a serious and ongoing crime is fascinating. Brilliant, thanks

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  4. This is CANDY! My protag will be playing for the "away" team and this is all good info. Thanks, as always, for sharing, Ms. Quinn.

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