Solo: My Adventures in the Air
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
When Clyde Edgerton was four years old, his mother took him to a local airport to see the airplanes. Eighteen years later, she would take him to the same airport to catch a plane to Texas for Air Force pilot training. She’d been his first passenger when he got his aviator’s license. She’d supported his decision to join the Air Force. All the same, she wished he’d kept up his piano lessons instead.
But Truma Edgerton’s only son had fallen in love with flying, and had fallen hard. His plan was to pilot the newest, sleekest, fastest aircraft available. The first time he soloed in a jet, he felt “a strange pride and power.” By then, the only access to the cockpits of fighter jets was via the war in Vietnam. So he spent a year flying combat reconnaissance over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and he won the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Back at home, he took up another passion—writing. By and by, he bought himself his own airplane, a Piper Super Cruiser that he named Annabelle. Now, thirty years after Vietnam, Clyde Edgerton looks back at his youthful passion for flying, at the joy he took in mastering it, at the exhilaration—and lingering anguish—of combat flight.
Solo is a story told with empathy and humor—and with searing honesty that will resonate with every pilot who remembers the first take off, the first landing, the first solo. For those of us who always choose the window seat, it’s a thrilling story to experience vicariously.
on the back floorboard), our truck had been saluted and waved on in. We didn’t know if driving the general’s car out would be so easy. I was selected to see if keys were in the ignition. I walked casually to the car and looked in the window. Yes—and the door was unlocked. I returned to our truck and told the boys. Piece of cake. Fireball and I approached the car, I got in and put the car in neutral, and then we pushed it out the driveway and into the street. I jumped in and cranked it as
an airplane wing: flat along the bottom (the palm) and curved over the top, with the edge out front (the index finger) thicker than the trailing edge (the little finger)—a shape that creates lift. When your hand is at just the right angle to the onrushing wind, you feel your hand being lifted. Think of that as the angle at which the wing is fastened onto the fuselage (or body) of the airplane. If your hands were big enough and you could stick them out both car windows and hold them stiffly at
through the notebooks and found his entry for his first successful flight in his third-generation homebuilt. It went something like this: “The aircraft lifted off and flew about one hundred yards. I taxied back and, just before reaching the dock, ran out of fuel.” I flipped through a few pages and found hand-drawn charts and diagrams and short statements like “This didn’t work, so I tried this.” It was as if he’d used my character’s notebooks as a guide. They were both—all three of us,
size, his tattoo spread wide, and at first I thought the finger was wrapped in black leather. It wasn’t—that was skin. He survived, of course, but he wasn’t as lucky as he’d been when he was simultaneously bitten by two rattlesnakes a few years back. He’d been feeding them. They “knew” him, he claimed, and thus the bites had been dry, without venom. Tim died of cancer in 2002, and I lost a true and valued friend. He and I flew together in Annabelle several times after that day back in 1989 when
flying machine, the dream of flying, seduced me. Late in the war, I wrote in my journal a quote from somewhere: “There is no country but the heart.” A FRIEND OF MINE who lived in Vietnam after our war there wants to read this book because, having heard so much about the point of view of Vietnamese on the ground during the war, she wants to know the point of view of the pilots in the air. I’ve not asked her what she knows about the point of view of those on the ground. I know it’s varied and