Title: Reach for the Sky
Author: James Scott
Genre: Historical Fiction
Southern California, 1929. It is the Golden Age of American Aviation, when dashing young men pilot flying machines and women are told they don’t belong in the cockpit.
That means nothing to fifteen-year-old Shannon Donnelly. Orphaned and on the run from her parents’ killers, she stumbles into the world of aviation. Inspired by a chance encounter with Amelia Earhart, she pursues a dream to fly, becomes part of 1930s Hollywood, and is shadowed by a man determined to see her dead. Along the way, she wins the hearts of two men—one she will marry; one she cannot forget—and falls into a love triangle culminating in a daring rescue mission into Nazi-occupied France.
Take flight into a slice of 1930s Southern California life—air races, Hollywood, movie stars, dangerous flying machines, the Great Depression, and more in an adventure set in the same period as The Rocketeer and Chinatown.
“Lockbourne Tower, this is 641. Request taxi instructions for one-hour local flight. Pilot Shannon Patterson, over.”
Shannon’s heart felt like it skipped a beat at mention of her name as pilot of the massive war machine.
“Six-four-one, you are cleared for Runway One-Zero to the southwest, over.” She heard Ellis run through his checklist, requesting information on the wind and the altimeter setting for the aircraft. When he had that, and had been given his landing code, he terminated the conversation.
Shannon throttled the four big engines all the way back and got ready to taxi, then signalled the ground crew to remove the external power source and move the wheel chocks clear. She increased throttle on the outboard right-side engine to turn the aircraft to the left and line up for take off.
“Wheel lock off,” Ellis said as they approached the turn.
“Wheel lock off, check.”
The moment they completed the turn, Ellis called out, “Wheel lock on.”
“Wheel lock on, check,” Shannon said firmly. Locked into a straight line ahead, the wheel would not turn to the side and take the rear of the plane with it while moving to takeoff speed.
“We’re cleared for take off,” Ellis said. “The aircraft is yours.”
Shannon stared at the runway in front of her, gaze burning into the long strip of concrete, the thrum of the engines coursing through her like a fire in her blood. She had never been so ready. “Brakes off,” she said. She advanced the throttles and the B-17 began to roll, ever faster until at one hundred miles per hour the wheels parted from the ground and the big aircraft roared into the blue sky ahead.
James Scott (formerly writing as B J Scott) is the multiple-award winning author of seven novels, six of them historical and one of speculative fiction. His awards include the Will Rogers Bronze Medallion for Western Romance, and the WILLA Literary Award sponsored by Women Writing the West. All his novels feature a common factor: they’re built around strong female protagonists: women who want men in their lives but don’t need them to succeed; adventurous, fearless, and determined.
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