When one of my editors went through Shifty Business, she commented on how “real” the airplane scene was and how she empathized with Gerry. There’s a good explanation for that realism. I’ve felt it! My husband is a pilot and just before we were married he purchased a 1958 Cessna 172—a “classic.” Now the hubby is an excellent pilot, but we’ve had some events that make a person like me awfully nervous. I tapped into those when I wrote the flying scenes.
Also, the airplane Nicky flies is an “old straight-tail.” Any pilot will know what that means and most of them sigh with nostalgia and remember the first one they ever flew. I sometimes think all pilots must have started out in an older Cessna 172. It’s a much-beloved airplane, sometimes called the Impala of the skies: durable and easy to fly.
So my dear husband calls our airplane American Pie II. His Cessna came off the assembly line the same month Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper went out on the Winter Dance Party Tour which would eventually lead to their deaths in an airplane crash… an airplane called American Pie. It may seem like a bad omen, but that “beautiful old bird” took us many a mile. And the story about her name is always a fun one to tell, especially since the Big Bopper was from my region of Texas and Buddy Holly was from the hubby’s hometown of Lubbock.
Don’t you just love how small the world is sometimes?
The hubby and I sold that gorgeous plane a few years ago and I know that he missed her a lot. Still, it gave us a lot of fun and adventure for about 20 years!