Up, Up, and Away – –

Jack makes it in time again – just – – –

I came across a photo recently that brought back many memories of one of my teenage passions.

I think I was first introduced to the magic of flying model planes by my Dad – he was recuperating from two broken ankles and built a model glider from a kit. Then a beloved woodwork teacher at the high school I attended started a model building after school club when I was about thirteen. He and some of his adult friends went on to establish Dunfermline model aircraft club and rented an old empty house in a village just outside town. I joined that and could go there any time to work on my models or just hang out with my pals. We also shared copies of two popular specialist magazines – Aeromodeller and Model Aircraft.

We lived on the edge of town with fields right behind the house where I could test fly my planes, but the club had permission to fly on farmland further away. So most weekends when the weather allowed I would walk the thirty minutes to the clubhouse and then a further thirty minutes to the flying site.

Most years a group of us would rent or borrow a van and drive to the Scottish and British championships, although we rarely won anything.

I was most interested in two specialist types of planes – competition free flight and ½ A team racing. Free flight involved the model corkscrewing up vertically under power for 15 seconds and then gliding for as long as possible in circles. You were allowed three flights and if any exceeded three minutes that was termed a ‘max’. All those that got a full set of maxes went on to the next round and so on until you had a winner.

But there was one member of the club who was a few years older than me that became a big influence on me. He introduced me to jazz music and he was snappy dresser, so of course I became a snappy dresser too! Ian wasn’t interested in free flight; his passion was team racing. This involved planes flying very fast (80 – 100 mph) in a circle aiming to be first to finish. They were ‘control line’ models (U control in the US), with the pilot in the middle of a 100 foot circle holding a U shaped handle with two thin wires attached to the plane which controls the up and down movement. The models have a specified size, engine capacity and fuel tank capacity. Up to four planes fly simultaneously with all the pilots entwined round each other in the middle. I was the ‘pitman’ and my job was to refuel the racer and restart the engine while dodging the other ones flying over my head.

I continued as a member of the club until I was about twenty and over time there began to be quite an overlap between models, jazz and eventually folk music.

That link eventually re-emerged when I was booked to sing at Dunfermline folksong club about twelve years ago. My old high school woodwork teacher, George Simpson, was in the audience!

Many years later and after I retired and moved to the US I revisited my teenage passion and discovered that electric motors had taken over as well as cheap and easy radio control. Much less messy and much less likelihood of losing models – or breaking a finger with a back-firing diesel engine!


Filed under between books, crafting, Life reflections, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: THE DISAPPEARED by CJ Box

Paul Garrett, a regular contributor to THE MONDAY BOOK, reviews The Disappeared. It’s not his fault it’s appearing on a Tuesday.

My introduction to C. J. Box was his 2013 thriller The Highway, a book about a semi-driving serial killer. I picked up the book around ten-thirty one morning and the world stopped until 11:30 that night when my wife admonished me to put the book down and go to sleep. Since then, I have read several of his novels.  While he once produced a book about every couple of years, lately he has been pumping them out at a brisk pace, James Patterson style.

 In Disappeared, he continues the story of Joe Pickett, a Wyoming game Warden. Over the years we have become familiar with Joe, his wife, who is a librarian and sort-of silent partner in his investigations, and his two daughters, one adopted.  Along with the investigations, we have followed their personal difficulties.

Joe once again teams up with Nate Romanowski, a renegade and former special operator (think Jesse Ventura with an even bigger attitude). He once yanked the ears off a recalcitrant perp.

When A British celebrity and a fellow game warden both go missing at about the same time, the new governor sends Joe out to investigate.  Joe sets off on a search that jeopardizes his career as well as his life and that of his adopted daughter. On the trail of the missing, he crosses paths with the [PG1] standard variety of ne’er-do-wells and unique characters who populate his stories.

Like most of the Pickett stories, this is a procedural, wherein we follow Joe as he chases clues and goes down various blind alleys and switchbacks on the way to solving the crime. Picket stories take place in Northwestern Wyoming, and as usual the breathtaking and often desolate setting, brutal weather and environmentalism play important roles. Joe’s workmanlike prose gets the job done without flourish or extravagance.

The story develops like an avalanche crashing down Gannett Peak; slowly at first but gaining speed and momentum until reaching a final deadly crescendo. Though I consider myself adept at prematurely guessing the outcome of these types of stories, I was totally unprepared for the final plot twist that put everything in perspective.

The Disappeared will not disappoint C. J. Box fans. For those new to Joe Pickett, it will be a satisfying intro.


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Filed under book reviews, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Wendy Welch