glider on tow

SINK RATE, ROPE BREAK, SIDE SLIP. Odd names for crime/detective novels. No “Murder”, “Blood”, “Mystery”, or “Death”. Oh, there’s plenty of all of that in the stories but there’s much more. The titles come from terms used flying sailplanes, gliders for most of you. Something I did a bit of some years ago. The Child Bride sacrificed fancy dishes and curtains so we could pay for towplanes and annual inspections. She helped drag the sailplane to the end of the runway and held the wing tip until launch allowed enough air to flow over the wing and put control into the stick. Even tracked me down in the countryside for a few off-field landings. What a peach.

But alas funds were re-directed to more useful things like homes and kids and the sailplane moved on to new owners who put it to good use. The memories remained though and found their way into my fiction. Added dimension and setting for the characters.

The first novel, SINK RATE, has been out since last fall and the second, ROPE BREAK, is scheduled for release soon. SIDE SLIP will be out later this year and the next one is forming in the laptop when I’m not distracted with “other” things. Now my flying is by proxy. It’s not as much fun but oh so less expensive. From ROPE BREAK:

Grace followed Ken around the big two seat glider as he did a pre-flight inspection. He took his time even though the plane had been in service without a problem all day. She’d watched the pilots of the commercial jets she worked in do this many times, but always took it for granted.

Ken said as they approached the open cockpit, “It may seem silly, but I don’t cut corners when it comes to flying. You can’t pull to the side of the road and call for a tow truck if your ride craps out at five thousand feet.” He put her to work pulling the glider out to the end of the runway. He kept looking over his shoulder at the landing pattern to be sure no planes had slipped in without calling in on the field frequency. There was no control tower and the local pilots announced their landing and takeoff intentions on an open channel. The trainer had a radio and it had been quiet after Will dropped the last sailplane upwind and coasted back onto the field.

Ken watched Grace easily climb into the front seat and helped her adjust and buckle the restraints. He pointed out the airspeed indicator, altimeter and variometer on the panel and the big red ball for the tow rope release. He followed her into the glider and buckled himself in the back seat. A young kid brought the tow rope over to the front of the glider and Ken pulled the knob from the backseat so the kid could hook them up. The kid moved out to the left wing and rocked his arm to tell Will to pull the tow plane out onto the runway and take up the slack in the tow rope.

Ken had already checked that the stick and rudder worked the control surfaces properly and found he did not need to adjust the rudder pedals. He closed the canopy and tapped Grace on the shoulder, “Okay, Grace. You handle the takeoff.”

She didn’t move or say anything. Suddenly her head whipped around and she found Ken grinning broadly. “Gotcha,” he said. “Just relax and gently put your two fingers on the stick and follow my movements. We’re ready to go.”


  1. Mike,

    So happy for you that Number Two is released. I can’t imagine how proud you are. Great job tying in the aviation angle. Always good to know that there are pilots that can actually write. Gives me hope!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rob. I miss it but I will continue to give my characters (and readers) the thrill of stick and rudder. The Supercub has a big part in this book. Has them asking, “Who is that guy up there?”


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