WINGSPREAD E-zine for November, 2017


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
November, 2017                                                                                  James Hurd      

 

Contents

  • New blog article: “Learning to Love Manure Day”
  • New novel
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes

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New blog article: Learning to Love Manure Day

I’ve always hated manure. So on my first day working at Marv’s egg ranch when Ron said, “The real fun here is manure day,” I thought he’d gone mad.

During high school Ron and I worked for Marv. Ron was a bit smaller than I was, but one of the most confident kids I knew, funny and smart.

I would drive my pea soup green 1953 Ford to work. When I had it painted, Marv and Ron mocked its gleaming metallic gold paint—“Hey, Ronnie! Jim’s car’s all dirty. That sick cat must’ve crapped all over it.” And later when my ears reddened at their sexual jokes, they ate me like a baby marshmallow rabbit….

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

 

New novel: I’m working on a new novel about how a devout California boy became an atheist while at Bible Institute. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out real well…)  Estimated publication: summer, 2018.

 

Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861). Victorian English poet. Two of her poems: “How Do I Love Thee?” (Sonnet 43, 1845) and “Aurora Leigh” (1856).

Word of the Month:  Chronology. Make certain your reader doesn’t get lost in time. Give them time slugs, or at least little signals of when something takes place, especially if you’re jumping around in time.

Quiz of the Month:

How do you write a date in your story (e.g., the second day of April)?

Last month’s quiz: Where does the reader’s mind naturally place emphasis? Answer: The reader places emphasis on the last word or phrase of a sentence, paragraph, or chapter. Examples:
Weak: Linda broke her leg when she fell down.
Better: When she fell down, Linda broke her leg.

 Tip of the Month: The shorter the sentence or paragraph, the longer a reader will linger over it. Put your powerful punches in short sentences.

 More “How to write good”

  1. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  2. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  3. They were too close to the door to close
  4. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  5. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer

 Book Reviews
Margaret Craven, I Heard the Owl Call My Name. Dell, 1973. The haunting tale of a dying young priest who is assigned to a tiny Kwakiutl Indian village in British Colombia, his struggles, courage, and ultimate triumph. I’m using this book this spring in my Introduction to Anthropology course at Bethel University.

 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 

Quotable quotes

Epitaphs:

In a Georgia cemetery:

“I told you I was sick!”

 

In a Ribbesford, England cemetery:

Anna Wallace

The children of Israel wanted bread

And the Lord sent them manna,

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,

And the Devil sent him Anna.

 

Playing with names in a Ruidoso, New Mexico cemetery:

Here lies

Johnny Yeast

Pardon me

For not rising.

 

A Vermont widow wrote this epitaph, which sounds more like a want ad:

Sacred to the memory of

my husband John Barnes

who died January 3, 1803

His comely young widow, aged 23, has

many qualifications of a good wife, and

yearns to be comforted.

 

Someone who wanted anonymity in Stowe, Vermont:

I was somebody.

Who, is no business

Of yours.

 

On Margaret Daniels grave at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia:

She always said her feet were killing her

but nobody believed her.

 

Oops! Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:

Born 1903–Died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft to see if

the car was on the way down. It was.

 

In a Thurmont, Maryland cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist

All dressed up

And no place to go.

 

Finally, written on the tombstone my wife picked out for me:

I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen.

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Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Learning to Love Manure Day

I’ve always hated manure. So on my first day working at Marv’s egg ranch when Ron said, “The real fun here is manure day,” I thought he’d gone mad.

During high school Ron and I worked for Marv. Ron was a bit smaller than I was, but one of the most confident kids I knew, funny and smart.

I would drive my pea soup green 1953 Ford to work. When I had it painted, Marv and Ron mocked its gleaming metallic gold paint—“Hey, Ronnie! Jim’s car’s all dirty. That sick cat must’ve crapped all over it.” And later when my ears reddened at their sexual jokes, they ate me like a baby marshmallow rabbit. I resented that they always targeted me, but now I realize that I took myself too seriously.

Marv always treated me well and paid well. He was the kind of guy who only washed from the waist up. A serious, bible-quoting Christian, thick-necked, bulbous-nosed, and rough-edged, he talked like someone had put sand in his toothpaste. My first day, he took me on a tour. “The chicken cages sit in ten long rows there, eight Leghorns to a cage. When they drop their eggs, they roll down the sloping wire floors into the trays.” I inhaled urine and manure smells as he showed me how to push a four-wheeled cart, gathering the eggs. I learned to pick up the eggs four at a time and place them into cartons stacked on the cart. I smelled my own sweat while swallowing the dust that filled the stifling, motionless air. The eggs came with a byproduct—manure. Most of it fell through the cages and accumulated on the concrete slab beneath. But some fell on the eggs and left brown streaks, so we later had to wash them with a mechanical egg scrubber.

Then I had to pee. My clothes were so dirty I couldn’t go up to the house and ask Frances if I could use their bathroom. So I did as Marv and Ron always did—leaned against a cage post and discreetly let fly, watching the little yellow rivulets in the manure beneath—an action which provoked a furious clucking, part commentary and part protest. After the chickens settled down I returned to egg gathering, but when I exited the row, a cart wheel caught on the post, and the whole front stack of cartons dumped off the front, breaking dozens of eggs. Marv said nothing—he was a patient man.

While I gathered eggs, Marv walked down the cage rows to check for any wounded or dying hens. He saw a chicken with a red, tumid butt, pulled it out, and swabbed some foul-smelling purple stuff on it to staunch the bleeding. He said, “You gotta do this, or else the other hens peck at the bloody feathers until they disembowel her, leaving her guts to hang out like a lariat.”

Then Marv saw a chicken that had a lariat and he yelled over to me, “Hey Jamie—look; a cowboy chicken!” He grabbed the cowboy’s feet, smashed its little head against one of the wooden support posts, and hurled the lifeless body onto the manure pile underneath the cage. “It would’ve died anyway,” he said.

  

On one auspicious Saturday, my first manure day arrived. Would I be able to do this? We walked over to look at the Model T truck and manure trailer, and Ron told me, “Marv’s dad designed the trailer.”

Marv walked up, and explained, “The Old Man found this rusty trailer chassis with an axle and two wheels and built a steel bed for it. (I always call him ‘The Old Man’—it’s a navy term for respect.) He rigged up a small gasoline engine that powers this hydraulic pump here. The pump plunger tilts the trailer bed to dump the manure.”

The Old Man maneuvered the truck and trailer down the narrow driveway between the first two cage rows. Ron and I trailed behind, shoveling manure into the trailer from each side. It became a silent competition to finish our row first, and Ron always finished a little ahead of me. Shoveling dry manure would not be so bad, but the night’s rain had turned the dry droppings into a sodden, slippery slurry that oozed out from under the cages. The stinking slime ran off the edge of my shovel and dripped over my tennies. The term “stepping in the cow pie” took on new meaning, although instead of dry, sterile pies, this was more like trodding in a smelly soup. My shod feet squelched through the sticky slush.

The Old Man loved driving the truck, and relished the banter of his shovelers. You would have thought Ron loved this job more than anything—he seemed to savor every shovelful. Then it got fun, because these manure guys planned for crazy. We all took jabs at each other, but I usually ended up as the butt of their jokes. Marv drew upon his vast repertoire of manure stories, flavored with colorful, short Anglo-Saxon words. When he threw the “cowboy chickens” into the trailer, he made comments that were less than complimentary to the chickens.

After we filled the trailer with manure and piled a few bloodied, dead chickens on top, we drove out into the orange grove and stopped at a wooden access cover that hid a large, underground pit. Marv said, “Jamie—Take off the cover.” The acrid stench of manure and decayed flesh almost overwhelmed me. We tilted up the trailer bed and shoveled all its contents into the hole, carefully scraping out the last of the slurry. Then we went back for another trailer load. After several more loads we were done, leaving only a manure-less concrete surface under the cages. The whole job took four or five hours.

 

I assumed I was destined to do great things for God, but until now I never knew it would include shoveling manure. And yet shoveling taught me not to take myself so seriously. How could I, when my shoes were stained brown and my clothes smelled of rotting chicken flesh? Manure days taught me that even tiring, stinking work can make you proud because you feel as if you’ve accomplished something. Marv and Ron targeted me with their jokes, but they also helped me learn how to work well with other people. And I learned to love Marv—at once a worldly, somewhat profane man, and a good Christian—one of the best bosses ever. I confess that even now, I miss Saturday manure day.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for September, 2017

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
September, 2017                                                                                       James Hurd      

 Contents

  • New blog article: “California Luau”
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • Quotable quotes

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New blog article: California Luau

 Shawn wondered if Rod would be here. Of course he would be here; Rod had to be here, mainly because Sally was here. Rod was barely 5’8” tall (Shawn was a full six feet), and had just completed his first year at Fullerton Junior College. What he lacked in good looks he made up in wit and confidence. Shawn was certain Sally looked at Rod as older, more mature, a man with a plan, already in college and on his way to a skyscraper corner office. How could Shawn compete with that? Like Shawn, Sally had just graduated from Orange High School. Read more here: https://wordpress.com/post/jimhurd.com/1081

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: John Grisham. A Time to Kill (1989), The Firm (1991), The Pelican Brief (1992), The Client (1993), The Rainmaker (1995). A novelist who writes criminal and legal stories. Some of his novels are very long (e.g., 250,000 words). Good page-turners. Driving narrative.

Book of the Month: John Grisham, The Chamber (1994). A longer novel, but engaging. An attorney attempts to save a condemned death row murderer from the gas chamber.

Word of the Month:   In medias res: “In the middle of things.” The cure for writer’s block. The cure for “where do I start?” In the middle of things. Try starting just before, or just after, the crisis or climax in your piece. Just jump in—in media res.

Question of the Month: Where does the reader’s mind naturally place emphasis?

Last month’s quiz: When do you use a hyphen, an en dash, and an em dash?
Answer: The hyphen joins two modifying nouns (half-pint bottles). The en dash is used for page numbers (Pp. 2-6). The em dash, the longest, shows an abrupt change of thought within a sentence (He jumped—actually fell—from the tree). Not all text programs support all three of these dashes.

Tip of the Month: Try mixing action and dialogue to make your dialogue more believable. Judy was eating her hamburger. Finally she said, “I don’t think I’ll go.” She popped the last bit of bun in her mouth.

The Great Mix-up
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
When it doesn’t rain for a while, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, because now my time is UP, so……

It’s time to shut UP!

Book and Film Reviews
John Grisham, The Chamber [as in “gas chamber”]. A typical Grisham adventure in criminology and law. Fast-moving narrative. The lone attorney for the accused holds a secret incentive to defend him. Will he be successful?

Movie—Dunkirk. A docudrama of the small civilian boats trying to rescue thousands of allied soldiers from the coast of France. Spitfires defending hundreds of small boats offshore that are taking fire from German Messerschmitts.

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 Quotable quotes

Economic wisdom

♠   The world will always need economists, if for no other reason than to make meteorologists look good.      Tim Essenberg

♠   Inflation is like sin; every government denounces it and every government practices it.       Sir Frederick Keith-Ross

♠   An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.    Laurence J. Peter

♠   To err is human; to get paid for it is divine.    William Freund, economic consultant

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Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

California Luau

The long afternoon sank into the sea, the brown Los Angeles basin smog turning the sun fantastic, distorted, like a rotting orange. Summers in Southern California heat to almost 100 degrees at midday, but the dry, desert air quickly cools at night. Shawn liked the beach best on these late afternoons and evenings.

He’d asked Sally to go with him to the Calvary Church luau, but she said, “I’m driving down with Cindy and Saundra; we have to take a bunch of food.” So Shawn drove down with Bill, a year younger that he, who had no car. They pulled into the blacktopped Huntington Beach parking area, found a space and revved the engine of his 1953 metallic blue Ford—-nosed, decked, and hung, with twin glasspak pipes.

Shawn and Bill walked onto the beach barefooted, the sand squishing between their toes. They wore Bermuda shorts and teeshirts over their swim trunks. Shawn carried a watermelon and Bill, a six-pack of Pepsi, their respective contributions to the luau. The beating of the waves on the sand grew louder as they inhaled the salt spray.

Shawn wondered if Rod would be here. Of course he would be here; Rod had to be here, mainly because Sally was here. Rod was barely 5’8” tall (Shawn was a full six feet), and had just completed his first year at Fullerton Junior College. What he lacked in good looks he made up in wit and confidence. Shawn was certain Sally looked at Rod as older, more mature, a man with a plan, already in college and on his way to a skyscraper corner office. How could Shawn compete with that? Like Shawn, Sally had just graduated from Orange High School.

As they walked up to the Calvary group, Shawn stared at the girls—maxi-skirted, with hibiscus flowers in their hair, bare feet and painted toenails. They walked with grace, and stooped over as they made food preparations. Saundra wore a tiny silver chain around one ankle.  Cindy was a bit more robust, and wore a cover-up over her purple swimsuit. Melanie was less than five feet tall. Shawn noticed her long maxi skirt and the bathing suit top above her bare midriff. He pulled his eyes away.

Shawn smelled the smoke from the Tiki torches, and the loud music coming from a portable radio excited him. The Luau had been Saundra and Melanie’s idea. Melanie was Rod’s old girlfriend; one of several. When Shawn asked her out once she said, “I’ll have to ask Daddy; I’m only 13 going on 14.” Daddy said yes and they had gone to a football game, nothing more.

All the food lay on gunny sack cloths atop a woven mat of green palm branches. Succulent hunks of pork hung on skewers for roasting kabobs Sweet corn still in the husk, watermelon, potato chips, and rice that the girls had piled on banana leaves. And for dessert, big frosted chocolate cakes. Mango drinks sat cooling in a red ice chest. Most of the boys assumed that their greatest contribution was their presence, although some had thought to bring fruit or chips.

Shawn and Bill dropped off their watermelon and Pepsi, stripped off their teeshirts and shorts, and ran toward the water. The defiant sun sank to the horizon as the waves washed farther and farther up the beach.

They dove into one wave after another, sometimes jumping on top of the peaks and body-surfing in the foam toward the beach. Pacific waters are cold, even in summer. But the huge, pounding waves throw you around so much you don’t realize you’re getting numb.

They just let the smaller waves break over their waist or shoulders, but they could see two or three waves forming in the distance, and with experience they knew which one of them would be big. With these you try to jump up onto the peak and then swim furiously as it carries you in to the shore.

Shawn saw the monster wave approaching.

He and Bill jumped just before the wave broke, but they didn’t jump high enough. Instead of lifting them, the wave crashed over them and somersaulted them. Shawn tumbled helpless against the power of the foam; then he hit the ocean floor hard. The force kept him underwater and he panicked, afraid he would run out of air. But the relentless wave rolled him all the way into the shallows where he weakly stood up, spit out salt water, and felt the sting from the scrapes on his back and knees.

Then he saw Rod, barely visible, out beyond the breakers, calmly swimming parallel to the shore. Clearly showing off. Shawn never went out there; he lacked the confidence. Shawn glanced toward the firepit and saw a couple of girls looking past him out to sea as if he were invisible, watching Rod. One of them was Sally.

One of the other guys had helped Glen bring some dead wood from his home orange orchard, and some eucalyptus chopped into firewood lengths. Neither woods were native to the area. The Spanish had brought in the orange trees in the 1700s, and the tall-growing eucalyptus trees came from Australia—local orange growers used them to form windbreaks. Glen struck a match (no one carried cigarette lighters), lit a wad of newspapers he’d thrown into the firepit, then carefully added splinters of eucalyptus. When it blazed up, he said, “Throw on some orange branches; let’s get this thing roaring.”

Saundra said, “The fire’ll be great for the kabobs. We’ll roast pieces of pork, along with onions and green peppers.”

Melanie said, “Hey, you guys, pick up a skewer and load it up with meat and pieces of vegetable. There’s some bacon over here. We’re not going to do it for you.”

Sally said, “Why don’t we have a prayer before we eat?” People paused, bowed their heads, and she prayed a spontaneous prayer of thanks. (Calvary people always prayed spontaneous prayers.) Sally was not only pretty, social, intelligent; she also had the requisite Fundamentalist piety. At that moment Shawn thought to himself, I think I’m in love.

People grabbed their skewer sticks and loaded on pork pieces and vegetables. Everybody sat around the firepit roasting kabobs.

After dinner people took marshmallows to roast. Saundra cut the chocolate cake in pieces. “There’s more Pepsi, you guys. There’s some orange in there too.” Calvary was no-alcohol. Some of the guys occasionally imbibed, but never here, never with their church friends.

People ate cake and marshmallows. It was really dark now, and the seaward breeze had blown away the smog. The air chilled and the bonfire began to feel good as everybody sat around talking. Someone started Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version of “Michael, row the boat ashore…” We sang at church, so we had to sing here also.

Shawn saw Sally walking down to the edge of the rising waves, and followed her. His low social skills and low self-confidence with girls set his heart beating fast. “Great luau. Thanks for fixing the food.”

“Oh; Saundra and Melanie did most of it. It was good.”

“Are you accepted to BIOLA Bible?

“Yeah; but I’m also looking at Multnomah School of the Bible. Are you still going to Moody Bible?”

Shawn told her he hoped so. “I love the idea of going east—I’ve never been east of Texas. Old brick and stone buildings, snow, thunderstorms, and miles of corn fields. Moody has a great aviation program. I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m not accepted. Mission aviation—-that’s all I want to do.”

Shawn wondered, was he talking too much about himself? Let Sally talk.

“Roddy’s going to Fullerton JC to study business.”

Roddy? Shawn hated it when Sally talked about him. What did she really think of Rod? They’d gone out a few times; how serious were they? Rod swam in, walked back up the beach and lay on a towel, exhausted. Shawn accidently kicked sand in his face.

Sally had come with Melanie, but she rode home with Rod. Shawn and Bill left together with Cindy, who needed a ride home.

A great luau, but what Shawn really cared about was Sally—-and it looked as if she was slipping through his fingers.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for August, 2017


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
August, 2017                                                 James Hurd      

 

Contents

  • New blog article: Twin Trials in Texts
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes

*****************************************

New blog article: Twin Trials in Texas

 I guess I was too overconfident that Sunday afternoon in 1965. I’d only flown the Cessna 310 a couple of times, and now I had three passengers aboard and was shutting one engine down. But even when I wound up the other engine to full power, the airplane continued sinking toward the earth. What could I do to save us…?

 Read more here:   https://jimhurd.com/

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

 

Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: The Venerable Bede. Seventh-century English scholar who wrote the amazing Ecclesiastical History of the English People. He is referred to as “The father of English history.” Buried in splendor in the Durham Cathedral, England.

Word of the Month:   Beats: Short interruptions in dialogue that reveal something about the speaker.

Example: “I’m ready for this!” Jane lowered her head, folding and unfolding her hands.

As you revise your piece, try highlighting the beats.

Quiz of the Month: When do you use a hyphen, an “en” dash, and an “em” dash? [The hyphen is the shortest, then the “en” dash, then the longest, the “em” dash.)

 Last month’s quiz: What’s the difference between flaunt and flout?
Answer: They’re spelled differently. (Just kidding!) Flaunt means ostentatious display. Flout means to ignore, disobey. “He flaunted the fact that he regularly flouted college regulations.”

 Tip of the Month:

“Always use ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ …     Except when either your weird feisty neighbor or his eight foreign heirs forfeit their beige heifers and seize freight. A good label for this mess: “fun for new English speakers.”

 

Book and Film Reviews

Death of a Salesman. A 1940s Arthur Miller play about a family, organized around their salesman father, Willy Loman. Aging Willy, full of a salesman’s optimistic counsel to his two sons, is the last person to discover he’s washed up. Intense family drama.
The Shack (book and movie). A grieving father gets to take his complaints to the tribune of the Trinitarian God in a wilderness shack—and gets much more than he bargained for.
 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 

Quotable quotes

Faint praise for other people’s books:

♠   “I can find only three things wrong with your book—the beginning, the middle, and the end.”

♠    “I’ve read your book, and much like it.”

♠    “Your book has several gripping moments, punctuated by boring half hours.”

♠    “Thank you for sending me your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.”

 

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Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Twin Troubles in Texas

I guess I was too overconfident that Sunday afternoon in 1965. I’d only flown the Cessna 310 a couple of times, and now I had three passengers aboard and was shutting one engine down. But even when I wound up the other engine to full power, the airplane continued sinking toward the earth. What could I do to save us?

 

The day before, I’d landed at Dumas, Texas, near my Uncle John’s ranch. He said he would be traveling, so I called Charlie, who managed the 1,500 acres of corn and cattle on Derrick Ranch. I circled overhead and gunned the engines, signaling Charlie to drive out and pick me up at the airport.

Driving back to the ranch, we sat in Charlie’s green pickup truck passing acres of beef cow ranches and the donkey pumpers scattered over vast oilfields. Soon we rolled through the ranch gate with the wrought-iron oil derrick design on top, the branding iron shape for Uncle John’s 4,000 head of Hereford cattle.

Charlie was a few years older than I, a farmer’s farmer—disheveled brown hair, a crooked grin, high-topped work shoes, and a gentle manner.

He told me, “You can drive our tractor to compress down the corn silage in that open pit over there; then I’ll give you my .22 to hunt rabbits.”

It was fun driving, but I endangered no rabbits that afternoon. In the evening I had dinner with Charlie’s family, then he and I went to the Dumas drive-in to see In the Heat of the Night. The only part I remember now is the policeman looking into the house at the bare-breasted woman.

Charlie, his dad, and brother were eager to see the ranch from the air, so on Sunday the four of us drove out to the airport. Nobody asked any questions—they trusted me. Feeling the heat radiating up from the tarmac, I walked around the airplane checking fuel drains, control surfaces, tires. We took off, and soon soared above the Texas panhandle. I switched the fuel valve from main tanks to aux tanks, planning to later switch back to the mains. We turned toward the ranch and circled over the tiny houses.

I said to Charlie, “I want to practice some single-engine work, so we’ll climb up to 4,000 feet.” Charlie nodded as if this was perfectly normal.

When we reached our altitude, I pulled back the right throttle and watched the right prop slow to windmill speed—a big, useless spinning disk. Immediately a shrill horn blared—the airplane thought we were going to land and was complaining that the landing gear was not extended, so I lowered the landing gear to silence the horn.  To help us maintain altitude I added full power on the left engine.

Then I feathered the right propeller, watching it slow and stop, the blades aligning with the slipstream. This reduced drag and the airplane sprang forward.

We made a couple of circles; then I tried to start the dead engine. I cranked and cranked. Nothing. Cranked and cranked some more. Puzzling how fast we were losing altitude on one engine. Charlie and friends were oblivious, staring at the tiny panorama below. “There’s no irrigation water running on that side of the cornfield…. Hey; there’s Mom walking across the yard!”

Although I had full power on the left engine we were still sinking fast. Why? Probably because we were near gross weight, I reasoned, and because the day was hot.

I furiously scanned the gauges, checking and rechecking to discover why the right engine wouldn’t restart. I cranked and cranked again—nothing. By now we were getting really low—about 1500 feet. Sweaty palms. I turned around and said to my passengers with a false smile, “We’ll land on one engine.” Their smiles and nods told me they were thinking that pilots do this all the time.

I was late making the one-engine landing decision, and we had only one chance to land because the airplane wouldn’t climb. My brow glistened and my heart pounded. Maneuvering to enter downwind leg for runway 19, I began my prelanding check. At that moment I discovered two things.

When I ran down the checklist to “fuel valve” I discovered that both valves remained on “aux” tank. I had plenty of fuel in these, but, since neither aux tank had an electric boost pump, no fuel was feeding up to the engine-driven fuel pump! I switched both tanks to “main,” and cranked the right engine again. The feathered right prop immediately spun and the dead engine started.

Relief. I could now make a normal landing. I continued my checklist by pushing the gear lever, but it was already down! I remembered I had put it down when I heard the annoying “gear up” horn. So that was why we were losing so much alititude!

We glided in to an uneventful landing.

 

Sometimes pilots brood. That night I lay in bed chastened and humbled. How could I have made two stupid mistakes? Well, I hadn’t had enough respect for the complexity of a twin engine airplane, and should have spent more time reading the manual, especially the part about the complicated fuel system—two main tip tanks and an aux tank in each wing, a crossfeed system to allow feeding one engine from the opposite tank, and especially the part about no submerged boost pump in the aux tanks; you can only start an engine on the main tank!

And when I was having trouble starting the dead engine, I should have gone through a more thorough checklist. Then I would have caught the landing gear issue.

I fell into a fitful sleep.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for July, 2017

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
July, 2017                                                                                                         James Hurd      

 Contents

  • New blog article: “Multiengine Multitasking”
  • Writer’s Corner
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes

*****************************************

New blog article:  Multiengine Multitasking

At Moody Wood Dale Airport, humid summer arrived with her long, languid days. I relished the cut grass smell , and I loved seeing the tethered training aircraft rocking in the wind. We constantly eyed the skies. Sometimes a squall blew through, erasing the heavy humidity and bringing a bracing breeze. and the strong, whipping winds that beat the windsock into a frenzy, The towering cumulus transformed into black thunderheads that unleashed their tremendous downpours.

That summer capped an amazing two years. I remembered my anxiety during early private pilot training, the constant fear of washing out, the training for commercial pilot and flight instructor that demanded sharper skills. But this last summer I longed for something that seemed out of reach —- a multiengine rating. Time was running out, twin engine time was expensive, and no instructor was available….

 Read more here:   https://jimhurd.com/2017/07/07/multiengine-multitasking/

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

Writers’ Corner

Writers love other writers, their books, and their words. So…

Writer of the Month: Patricia Cornhill. She writes crime novels featuring her heroine, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner. She says, “It’s important for me to live in the world I want to write about. If I want a character to do or know something, I try to do or know the same thing.” She lives in New York City. Other of her books: Postmortem, Hornet’s Nest, Southern Cross. Cornwell has also done a biography of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham.

Book of the Month: Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell. A delicious novel featuring Kay Scarpetta as she closes in on the perpetrators of two murders. Rich descriptions of people and places. Deep psychological excursions. Some violence, but no gratuitous sex. Pocket Books, New York. 1991.

Word of the Month: moodle: To dawdle aimlessly; idle time away. Example: He moodled about, waiting until she appeared at the door.

Quiz of the Month: What’s the difference between flauted and flaunted?

 (Last month’s quiz: What does the thesaurus bird eat for supper?  Answer: A synonym roll)

Tip of the Month: Ya gotta do research. Of course, some things are undiscoverable now—the color of your grandmother’s dress on May 15, 1959, or what your best friend said to you that night when you were both 15, lying out on the beach. In these cases, trust your memory. But you must research what is discoverable—only because there’s that one reader somewhere, sometime, who was there, and knows it wasn’t “Woodale,” but “Wood Dale,” knows that the runway designator for John Wayne Airport is 20, not 18. You lose credibility, especially if the careful reader blabs about your mistake. Dorothy Sayers, after writing The Nine Taylors, her great novel about bellringing in English cathedrals, confessed that she had made 31 mistakes about the art of bellringing! (Somebody outed her.) So, the rule is, do your research.

English is a crazy language

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

P.S. Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’?
Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood faith (the Fundamentalist variety) led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Quotable quotes

♠   I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.              Anonymous

♠   What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.                        C.S. Lewis

♠   I don’t believe in astrology. We Scorpios aren’t taken in by such things.
Doug Weller

♠   To pray only when we feel like it is more to seek consolation than to risk conversion.           Joan Chittister

*    *    *

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Multiengine Multitasking

At Moody Wood Dale Airport, humid summer arrived with her long, languid days. I relished the cut grass smell , and I loved seeing the tethered training aircraft rocking in the wind. We constantly eyed the skies. Sometimes a squall blew through, erasing the heavy humidity and bringing a bracing breeze. and  strong, whipping winds that beat the windsock into a frenzy, The towering cumulus transformed into black thunderheads that unleashed their tremendous downpours.

That summer capped an amazing two years. I remembered my anxiety during early private pilot training, the constant fear of washing out, the training for commercial pilot and flight instructor that demanded sharper skills. But this last summer I longed for something that seemed out of reach —- a multiengine rating. Time was running out, twin engine time was expensive, and no instructor was available….

Multiengine at Moody

Then something wonderful. Moody needed somebody to install radios and instruments in a borrowed Apache. So during that summer of 1963, John Gettman (the brains behind the operation), Norm Hamilton and I spent many hours upside-down under the Apache instrument panel amidst a maze of wires. We cut holes in the panel, mounted and tested radios and instruments, wired and rewired. Then we got to fly the Apache. Mr. Berry agreed to instruct the three of us, and in return for my instruction time, I repainted part of his car. Looking back, he gave us such a generous gift.

Mr. Berry would sit in the copilot seat, each of us took turns in the pilot’s seat and the other two sat in the rear. The day I first took the left seat, I started the right engine first because the right had the airplane’s only generator. I loved opening the small pilot’s window and yelling, “Clear right!” Then I started the second engine and taxied out to the runway for the preflight check.  At the end of the check I pulled the prop control back to verify that it went into feather.

Mr. Berry said, “If the prop won’t feather, it’s a no-go item, because even with full power on the other engine, you can’t maintain altitude with the dead prop windmilling.”

Then the takeoff. A thrill to apply full power and feel the plane leap forward.

We climbed up to 3,000 feet and leveled off. After months of bouncing around in the Cessna 150 trainer, the Apache felt like an airliner —- solid, less at the mercy of wind gusts.

Piper Aircraft built this plane in the mid-1950s and equipped it with two 150 HP Lycoming engines (on later models, these upgraded to 160 HP). Bereft of grace, Apache N1137P had a bulbous nose, and wings as fat as air mattresses. You dealt with more complexity than in a single, paid more attention to procedures and checklists. Its recalcitrant gasoline-fired heater was almost as hard to operate as the plane itself. Mr. Berry told us, “Prime it only a couple of times; you don’t want a fire in the air.”

Mr. Berry says, “There’re only two kinds of pilots —- those who have already landed gear up and those who are going to.”` Every pilot obsesses about retractable landing gear. The Apache checklist says “gear down,” but it’s easy to get distracted and busy with all the tasks of landing. One pilot I highly respect landed an Aero Commander, then pulled the gear out from under it. (The gear lever is in the same position as the flap lever in the more familiar Cessna 180 he usually flew.) A month later, another pilot did the same thing. So when I flew retractable years later, I would always tell the passenger in the right seat: “See that little green gear-down light?” If it isn’t green when we land you’ll hear a harsh, scratchy sound. Scratchy’s bad, and it’ll take lots more power to taxi up to the terminal…” So in the Apache, I focused on those three little green lights. Once I put the gear down and only two lights came on. I recycled the gear; same thing. When we scrambled to switch the burned out bulb, the welcome green light came on.

After we got used to flying the airplane, Mr. Berry would shut down one engine in flight. The day he first pulled the power back on me and said “engine failure,” the airplane yawed severely to the right. I caught my breath, trying to determine which engine had failed (“strong foot on the rudder equals good engine; limp foot equals dead engine”). I pulled the right throttle back, then pulled the prop control back to feather. The right prop blades slowed, twisted parallel to the wind, then stopped. Feathering reduced the drag and we maintained altitude with full power on the left engine. Mr. Berry said, “You still need strong pressure on the left rudder to keep the airplane straight.”

Most critical is an engine failure on takeoff. Once, Mr. Berry pulled the left throttle back just as I was lifting off the runway. As I scrambled to overcome the yaw to the left and shut the bad engine down (simulated), he said, “Keep the speed at 90 or above. If you drop below 85 mph, the plane will slowly roll over on its back.”

I thought that might be counterproductive, and we were barely gaining altitude on one engine.

If an engine fails, you lose more than thrust and directional control. The Apache had only one generator (right engine) and one hydraulic pump (left engine). If you lose the right engine you soon run out of electrical power. And once when Mr. Berry shut down the left engine we lost hydraulic power and had to pump the gear down by hand. So much for redundancy.

One clear, dark night we were airport-hopping across Illinois when suddenly silence—both engines quit. Each wing contains one main and one aux fuel tank. We were crossfeeding both engines from the left main, and had exhausted the fuel in that tank. I swallowed hard, then reached down and switched to the right main.

After visiting several airports, we began a long, gradual descent into DuPage with air calm as stone and so clean it quivered. You could see the runway lights 20 miles out. I tried to judge my descent by the trapezoid of the runway boundary lights —- longer and narrower means you’re overshooting; wider and fatter means you’re undershooting. I felt like I was at the controls of a great airliner piercing the darkness, gliding down a silver trail in a large aluminum cocoon.

I looked over at Mr. Berry —- asleep. Does that mean he trusted me? Or more likely, he was sleep-deprived. Moody didn’t pay much, and he drywalled nights and weekends to make ends meet. Terse, soft-spoken, he never smiled, and gave you feedback only after you were back on the ground—we all liked him.

After about twelve hours of instruction we all flew over to DuPage Airport for our multiengine checkrides. As with all my other checkrides, I felt uneasy, wondering what the FAA examiner would demand. But it all seemed familiar, just a repeat of what we learned in practice. After some stalls, some single-engine work, and a couple of landings, I walked away with a fresh multiengine endorsement on my commercial license. To celebrate, I filled out an application for a hot air balloon pilot rating because, at the time, you didn’t even need a checkride. I’ve never gone up in a hot air balloon, but I still proudly carry the license.

 

Those years at Moody Wood Dale, with that strange mix of piety and technology—a few earnest young men seeking to save the world through mission aviation. Two years of anxiety and comradery. What a beautiful experience —- excellent instruction, good friends, great flying experiences.

The multiengine training that summer was the last act at my beloved Moody Wood Dale—when I left for California, I never saw the airport again. Years later I searched it out, but the airfield had sprouted large industrial buildings. The little grass airport had disappeared.

Down to Baja

A year after leaving Moody, I worried that I would have no chance to get more multiengine experience. I was enrolled at Cal State Fullerton, and in the afternoons mechanicked at Chino airport for “Hank” —- a garrulous galactico who ran a tiny maintenance operation modestly named “United California.”

Hank deposited an irrational trust in me —- I was basically on my own, a novice mechanic who worked all day alone, including work on replacing all the fabric on a Taylorcraft.

I did not reciprocate Hank’s trust —- he seemed too casual. He told me about when he’d forgotten to take the control locks off a DC3, and had to put both feet up on the instrument panel to pull the elevators up enough to land.

He raced around with his ears back, and bragged that he could take off and land an Apache on one engine. I guess you would just slowly advance the power on takeoff so the yaw wouldn’t pull you off the runway, then rotate after you reached 100 mph or so. Still, who would ever want to try that?

One day Hank said, “I need you to do a 100-hour inspection on my red Apache.” I stood with a wrench poised in the air staring at this beautiful red and white machine. I enjoyed working on it, but even more, I longed to fly it.

One Thursday in May, 1964, I got my miracle. Hank was brokering with some guys, stalling them until I arrived that afternoon. He said to me, “Hey; some guys here want to charter my Apache for some Baja marlin fishing. Wanna’ take ‘em down?”

How could I say no? But I’d never flown in Mexico; never been to Baja California, and I had less than 20 hours in the Apache. I mentally cancelled my weekend plans, searched for the aeronautical charts and began to plan the trip.

I asked Hank, “What about customs at the border?”

“No problem; just land in Mexicali and clear Mexican customs. Give ‘em a tip and they won’t check through your baggage.”

The clock already said 1:00 pm. “What if we can’t make it down in daylight?”

“Don’t worry; there’s lights at the airport.”

I stuffed the three fishermen in the plane with all their gear and we took off about 2:00, so heavy that the bulbous nose of the Apache rode high, like a speedboat. The summer heat beat backwards beneath our wallowing wings.

At Mexicali, the Mexican customs guy sniffed around the plane until one of the guys gave him fifty cents. He waved us through.

We took off headed south. The panel clock nibbled away at the daylight, and we still had a long flight ahead. Our destination, Buenavista, lay on the eastern coast of the Baja peninsula, only about ninety miles north of Cabo San Lucas.

The westering sun sunk lower as we landed at Bahia de Los Angeles to gas up.

As we hurtled along at 150 MPH, I looked off east at the darkening, wind-wrinkled waves, and wondered about Hank’s, “it’s a lighted field.” Embarrassing if Buenavista had no lights and we crashed in the desert. Did I mention I had some trust issues with Hank? I told the passengers, “We’ll land at Bahia de Los Angeles and overnight there; I don’t want to fly at night over territory I’ve never seen before, so we’ll head down to Buenavista early tomorrow morning.” We landed at about 7:00, and taxied toward the buildings. I felt completely rendered.

That evening we had a great roast turtle dinner with rice and beams, then sat on the veranda and watched the thin moon rise over the bay with her upturned horns.

Early next morning they served us salchicha and huevos a la ranchera for breakfast. We rolled out a couple 55-gallon drums and serviced the airplane with red 87 octane av gas. I drained each of the four tanks to check for water, then flung the cup of gas onto the sand.

We flew the hour and twenty minutes to Muleje, our last fuel stop. As we slowed, the plane’s small wheels sank in the sand and I had to add power to keep going. As we fueled up and taxied back out I wondered, how will we ever take off in this sand?

The wind dictated a north takeoff over some low bluffs, so we pulled the aircraft way back into the sandy soil at the south end of the airstrip. As I maneuvered into position, we got stuck. We pushed and pulled, but no luck. At last, a passing stake truck tied a rope to the nose wheel strut and pulled us out. My guys gave them a good tip.

Finally we started the takeoff roll, barely building speed in the soft sand. Halfway down the strip we got airborne, but the bluffs loomed ahead of us. Too late to think of turning. As we skimmed over the bluff I could count the cacti. After we cleared, I looked down and realized I was so preoccupied with the takeoff I’d forgotten to turn on the auxiliary fuel pumps. With each hour, I was gaining more respect for the Apache’s complexity.

We flew the 260 miles to Buenavista. Circling above the airport, I saw no runway lights along the airstrip—Hank must have been selling smoke. I was glad we’d overnighted in Bahia. We landed, parked, gassed the plane up and then walked over to the buildings.

One of the guys said, “Do you want to go out marlin fishing with us?

“I guess not… I think I’d better stay ashore and study for my classes.”

“Okay. Order whatever you want to from the bar.”

They fished for two days. I ordered meals and a couple of cokes, eschewing the alcohol, then moodled about people-watching in the lazy heat, inhaling the hot air of human perspiration.

The night before we flew back, one of my fisherman guys asked, “Can we take our marlin back with us?”

“I don’t think so… we’re as loaded as when we came down.”

“Okay. At guess we’ll just cut off the sword nose and take it with us.”

That Sunday morning the sun rose hot, with just a cloud or two in the sky. I preflighted the mud-mottled Apache and we took off, as heavily loaded as when we had left home.

We stopped for fuel in San Felipe, cleared customs again in Mexicali and then flew back home to Chino.

 

That evening I sat in my Cal State dorm room, reflecting. The Apache had felt pretty familiar, but I could have used more experience in it before a long, international flight. I had no time to plan and wasn’t familiar with the route. We were landing on sandy, dirt strips and we had the pressure of failing daylight.

I had a new respect for the complexity of a twin engine airplane —- single-engine procedures, fuel tank system, and especially emergency procedures.

Later I would fly other twins—Cessna 310, Twin Comanche, Aztec. But my heart still clings to that pudgy red and white Apache that carried us down to the tip of Baja.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for June, 2017

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
June, 2017                                                            James Hurd      

 Contents

  • New blog article: A Dream Dashed
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes

*****************************************

New blog article: A Dream Dashed

It’s 1959, I’ve just turned 18, and I’m standing in the ready room of a tiny airport outside of Chicago, scanning for my name on the list of students Moody has accepted into their two-year aviation and mechanics program. I have no other goals, no other plans, except flying. I read down the names—Doerksen, Hoisington…

Read more here:   https://jimhurd.com/2017/06/02/a-dream-dashed/

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

 Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: Gregory Boyd

Greg Boyd is crazy, but mostly crazy good. He writes about theology—not the boring kind, but stuff you care about. His most recent book: Crucifixion of the Warrior God. Fortress Press. 2017. He addresses the question: Is the enemy-loving Jesus the son of the Old Testament Warrior God?

Other of his books:

Letters From a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity (1994); reprint edition, 2008.

 God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict (1997). The reality of spiritual warfare.

The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church (2006). A critique of the church’s involvement in politics.

Word of the Month:   Epigram

A short quote or aphorism at the beginning of an article or chapter.

Quiz of the Month: What does the thesaurus bird eat for supper? (Answer next month!)

 Answer to last week’s quiz: Disinterested means   a.  Impartial

 Tip of the Month: Your first paragraph is the most important, and must do several things: 1. Compel the reader to read the second paragraph. 2. Define the “envelope,” the parameters, of your piece. 3. Raise several questions in the reader’s mind. 4. Create tension. 5. Signal the genre of your piece—is it mystery? memoir? essay? 6. Signal the style of your writing—humorous, formal, casual?

 More “How to write good”

  •  I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer.
  • To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Book and Film Reviews 

Anne of Green Gables: A new beginning. First in a Netflix series based on the book by Lucy Maud Montgomery about an orphan girl on Prince Edward Island who is adopted by Matthew Cuthbert and his sister, Marilla. Warm, engaging. This is a new movie interpretation.

 Gregory Boyd. Crucifixion of the Warrior God (2 volumes, Fortress Press, 2017). Boyd views the violent images of God in the Old Testament through the compassionate lens of the New Testament Christ. A powerful portrait of the enemy-loving God. Nerdy, heavy going, but he promises a “Cliff Notes” version coming out soon.

Subscribe free to this E-zine 

Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  Ezine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

Quotable quotes on egotism

♠   Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

♠   The nice thing about egotists is that they don’t talk about other people.                                                                                                          Lucille S. Harper

♠   Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.
Frank Leahy

♠   I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but now I see I should have been more specific.
Lily Tomlin

*       *       *

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

A Dream Dashed

I laugh to see your tiny world, your toys of ships, your cars.
I rove an endless road unfurled where the mile stones are the stars.
— Gordon Boshell

It’s 1959, I’ve just turned 18, and I’m standing in the ready room of a tiny airport outside of Chicago, scanning the list of students accepted into Moody’s two-year aviation and mechanics program. I have no other goals, no other plans, except flying. I scan the names Doerksen, Hoisington…

Two weeks before, the Moody van dropped me off at the white hangar, into the care of Mr. Bob Rich.

“Hello, Jim. Welcome to Moody Wooddale. I’ll show you your bed.” He’s 30-something, square-jawed, clean-shaven, with glistening dark brown hair, sartorially perfect in his crisp collar shirt and tan pants. A man on a mission.

He walks me up the steel hangar stairs to the sleeping quarters.  Twenty-four cots sit in two neat rows. “It’s all temporary — in two weeks the students will find their housing elsewhere,” he tells me. I neatly stack my clothes under my assigned cot and lay my Bible next to the pillow.

I’m a late arrival. Mr. Rich turns to the men who are already settled in. “Men, this is Jim Hurd.”

I scan the room and recognize only one person—Dave Hoisington, a California friend from high school. He’s sandy-haired and confident in his black flying boots, sarcastic but not cynical. “Hi, Jim! Welcome to Moody’s All-weather Airdale Woodport and Country Club.” The other men I don’t know—some seem about my age; a few older. In two weeks, the instructors will winnow these down from 24 to 12.

Mr. Rich tells me the hangar was built in the early 1900s. Exposed steel trusses support its half-Quonset roof. We walk over to a railing and look down onto the gray hangar floor, clean enough to eat off of. Mr. Rich points to the huge yellow T-6. “That’s our WWII trainer—600-horsepower Pratt & Whitney radial engine. We use the blue and white Comanche next to it mainly for cross-country flights. And the Seabee in the corner there is a WWII amphibian with a pusher prop up behind the cabin. Those little floats support the wings on water.” I stare at it—could those stubby wings lift anything into the air? He says, “Those two long tables down there are where you’ll eat your meals.”

It’s hard to believe I’m standing here. Growing up in California, I had only one bright dream—flying. I visited airports. I imagined every farmer’s field a potential airstrip. Now it’s for real. My pulse quickens.

We descend the stairs and walk through a door into the flight ready room, its dark wood walls smelling of lacquer. Mr. Rich introduces me to a tall, sober man who sits in one of the offices. “This is our chief pilot, Mr. Van Dam. He came to Moody from the Air Force Academy because, he says, he got tired looking at the backs of cadet’s heads.” I shake his hand. When he speaks, the earth tremors. I think, if I mess up here, he’ll eat me like a baby marshmallow rabbit.

A brass-tipped wood propeller with a clock for a hub hangs on the wall. Underneath is a Chicago aeronautical chart. Mr. Rich points to the bulletin board. “We’ll post the names of the successful candidates here.” I stare at the blank space. Will my name appear here in two weeks?

We exit the admin building into a languid July day. A dozen metal lawn chairs sit on the grass, and white cumulus clouds float overhead. “The flight students usually sit here for lunch,” Mr. Rich says, “and they listen to Paul Harvey on the radio.” (I remember that famous voice: “Paul Harvey… Good day!”) A Cessna 140 sits on the flight line beside an older twin-engine Apache, and three yellow J3 Cubs, their wings rocking in the breeze. “You’ll fly one of the J3’s with Mr. Lance,” he says. I don’t tell him that I’ve only been up in a small plane once —as a passenger.

Moody Wooddale airport is a pasture. I look out across the wind-wrinkled grass and see a red Farmall tractor and mower. Mr. Rich says, “Each summer, Mr. Anderson tractors for hours. He sets bright yellow cones along the runways. For night flight, he marks the boundaries with flare lamps. After a heavy downpour, the field turns into a soggy airplane trap; gotta watch out for the mud.”

 The Farmall rolls up and Mr. Anderson leans over to tell Mr. Rich, “Last week I set out two flare lamps at the lip of Runway 18 so Mr. Van Dam could see to land. But he got a little confused, and started letting down instead over the high tension wires to the west. After that, he asked me for more flare lamps.” As I inhale this story along with the tractor exhaust, I’m secretly glad this flying galactico has feet of clay. Schadenfreude. My insecurity gives me illicit joy at another’s missteps.

The next morning we breakfast in the main hangar, then walk over to the maintenance shop. Mr. Mayhew comes out, smelling of solvent. A wartime aviation mechanics instructor at Purdue University, he’s now chief mechanic here at Moody. In his 50s, he wears a thin moustache—a no-nonsense, blue-collar guy. As we gather around the long shop tables, he tells us to rivet together two aluminum sheets. I drill the hole, insert the tiny rivet, and pull the rivet gun trigger. Pock, pock, pock! The air pressure is too high and the gun leans a bit, putting a smiley face in the aluminum. On the next try, the bucking bar cocks and ruins the butt-end of the rivet. My sweat drips onto the metal. Mr. Mayhew breathes over my shoulder.

And then he introduces us to the turnbuckle. I’d never heard of one. It’s a small brass tube with an eye-screw at each end, for tensioning aircraft control cables. He says, “I want you to safety-wire this.” He gives each of us a turnbuckle, a few inches of stainless steel safety wire, and two pages of opaque diagrams.

I look around. Some of the farm boys plunge in immediately, seemingly a task as familiar as their nose. They’ve probably been safety-wiring turnbuckles on thrashing machines or something since they were five. I look over at Dave—relaxed, dexterous. I hate them all.

After a few minutes I’ve wrapped a tangled ball of safety wire somewhere in the vicinity of the turnbuckle, which lies atop the crumpled instructions. Mr. Mayhew watches, then writes in his little notebook.

The next day, Mr. Lance leads a few of us out to the flight line and introduces us to the J3 Piper Cub. He stands under the wing with his hand on the strut. “Gentlemen, this is an airplane.” We all write it down.

He stands about 5’7”. Handsome, with manicured brown hair, button-down shirt and crisply-pressed pants. Black flight boots. Neatness gone to church. He flew in Yarinacocha, Peru for JAARS, the air arm of Wycliffe Bible Translators. As serious as a heart attack, he carries an unaccountable sadness, and smells faintly of cologne,

He walks us around the yellow, fabric-covered plane. “The J3 weighs 680 pounds empty. Punch your thumb in the fabric. If it leaves a dimple, the fabric’s rotting. Always look underneath the plane to see if there are any tears.” I run my hand over the smooth skin. “Climb up on the wheel here and look into the gas tank. This wire sticking out of the cap is the fuel quantity indicator.” Then he stoops down under the engine cowling. “This is a gascolator. Drain a little gas to see if there’s any water in it.”

I peer at the 65 HP Continental engine with its finned cylinders sticking out from the cowling, evoking the eyes of a huge prehistoric insect.

This day it’s my turn to fly. I climb into the rear canvas sling-seat and buckle up. Mr. Lance hauls himself into the front seat and closes the bottom portion of the door.

Since the J3 has no starter or electrical system, Mr. Rich comes out and hand-spins the propeller. The engine belches, then settles down to a tractor-like clack. I inhale a whiff of exhaust.

There’s no intercom, so Mr. Lance bellows instructions back at me. “Taxi ‘er out, but keep the control stick back in your lap. Steer with the rudders and push your heels to brake.” He advances the throttle and I pull the slack stick back. We start to move, but I can’t see anything except his haircut. “S-turn slightly, so you can see ahead,” he says. I S-turn, inhaling the sweet smell of freshly-mowed grass.

 Since the brisk wind is from the south, we taxi out to the head of Runway 18, make a few checks, and then taxi into position. Leo says, “I’ll advance the throttle, and you keep her straight with the rudder pedals. She’ll want to swing left.” He closes the side window and advances the throttle. As we accelerate, I smell oil mixed with burned avgas. I feel his slight control movements under my own hands and feet. Soon the tail rises, we rotate, bounce into the air, and begin climbing to depart the airport.

 “Keep the nose about four inches above the horizon to climb. Look left and right—each wing should be the same distance above the horizon.” I sit rigid, feeling that if I lean, the airplane will tip over. I move the live stick to bank or raise the nose, the throttle to climb or descend. Below lies a crazy-quilt patchwork—roads, railroads, woods, and summer crops, the small lakes reflecting summer’s light. Cars are pass us on the expressways.

We’re out in the practice area perhaps 20 minutes; then we head back to the airport. “Reduce power and establish a glide at 60 mph. See; the nose will ride about eight inches below the horizon.” When we throttle back to descend I feel like we’re falling. We sink down, turn 90 degrees, and line up with the airstrip. “Before we cross Thorndale Avenue, waggle your head to check for cars.” I waggle. Skimming low over the highway, the J3 touches the smooth grass and we roll to a stop. Mr. Lance turns the controls over to me and I taxi back to the gas pump.

Now it’s two weeks later. Decision day. We eat breakfast, then spend an hour or so out near the flight line talking.

Gary Jenkins walks over to where we’re sitting on the grass. “They just posted the names.”

I feel the adrenalin rush. This is it, the day I’ve dreamed of since I was 12 years old back at Orange Intermediate School! The day I’m convinced God has given me, to fulfill God’s plan for my life.

Gary and I walk silently into the ready room. We’ve become friends, feel we’re in this together, two men with a common destiny.

There’re only 12 names listed. I scan down—Doerksen, Hoisington… My name should be next. It isn’t. I didn’t make the cut. Neither did Gary.

Neither of us say much. What’s there to say? I have no Plan B. My dream feels ripped up, root and branch. We pack up and ride back to the downtown campus.

The van rolls into Moody’s asphalt campus and we disembark to search for an assigned dorm room on Edgren Hall’s fifth floor. The heavy Chicago air oppresses.

What to do? It seems I will never be a pilot, and yet I still want to be a missionary. Should I redirect and go into Bible translation?

Against all my expectations the sun comes up the next morning, but I can’t appreciate it through the bleak haze of failure. I stay that summer, enroll in Bible classes, and get the first two C’s of my life. I’m just not interested.

But then the summer brightens. Nobody knows me here; I’m 1800 miles from home and I’m starting over. I’ve left behind me the awkwardness and loneliness of high school. Gary and I hang out with other students and commit sophomoric acts of mischief. For the first time in my life, I feel like I belong to a group of friends.

And something else. That summer I learn that I can study Bible courses two years downtown in the “pre-aviation” program, then reapply for flight camp. My renewed hope burns like hot coals amid the ashes of failure.