This summer when I was home in San Diego, I went on a very special research trip.
I took a flying lesson over La Jolla in an experimental airplane built by the pilot, Jeremiah D. Jackson. The plane — the Urban Coyote — had recently been rebuilt after crashing in the mountains, an accident that Jerry describes in his gripping book Four Minutes.
My lesson was part of my research for my own book, Tempting the Player. It’s about Matt, a professional rugby player who’s terrified of flying, and his best friend Libby, a commercial airline pilot who helps him overcome his fear. In this video, you won’t hear Jerry or me talking (in fact, the sound seems to have disappeared completely, but trust me, it was LOUD in that plane) but you’ll see beautiful views as we leave the Pacific Ocean, fly just north of the Coronado bridge and come in to land at Montgomery Field. Also, I have NO IDEA why the thumbnail is gray. I chose a different thumbnail for the video, but it’s not showing up. Technology, eh?
We flew over the ocean (which I tried to video but my phone froze and the video didn’t save). It was so beautiful, but I was really nervous. I used to love being in planes when I was younger, but when I was in my early 20s I suddenly developed a terrible fear of flying. These feelings helped me get inside Matt’s head, but I decided to take a flying lesson to find out more about what he would feel when Libby hands control over to him.
Answer: scared as shit.
Jerry and I my dad have been friends since second grade, so I know he has about as much experience flying as he has walking. He’s also a scuba diver and a skydiver. When I was in high school, he helped make science relevant and fun for me. I remember when I had to do a project for my chemistry class, and Jerry came over with a bottle of soda and explained how air embolisms form in scuba divers. Basically, he’s brilliant, and he showed me how cool scientists can be. He also showed me around his work as an environmental engineer one day and encouraged me to consider engineering as a career. (I studied English instead.)
I was waaaay more comfortable when Jerry was in control of the plane, but I still managed to execute a turn over the ocean. Let me tell you, when you’re staring down at the ocean, a thousand feet suddenly doesn’t seem very high. In fact, it seems like you could close that distance in about a second. And I really felt for poor Matt and all I made him suffer in the book.
Want to know more? You can read about my flight in December’s issue of RT Magazine!
Have you ever flown a plane? Did you enjoy it? Have you ever forced yourself to do something you had a phobia of?
P.S. I wanted to share a really cool article about Tempting the Player on one of my favorite blogs, Romance Novels for Feminists. Jackie Horne wrote about Matt’s fear of flying and traditional masculinity. Hope you’ll read it and maybe leave a comment!