The Map of My Dead Pilots is about flying, pilots, and Alaska, the beautiful and deadly Last Frontier. Author Colleen Mondor spent four years running dispatch operations for a Fairbanks-based commuter and charter airline, and she knows all too well the gap between the romance and reality of small plane piloting in the wildest territory of the United States. From overloaded aircraft to wings covered in ice, from flying sled dogs and dead bodies, piloting in Alaska is about living hard and working even harder. What Mondor witnessed day to day would make anyone’s hair stand on end. Ultimately, it is the pilots themselves—laced with ice and whiskey, death and camaraderie, silence and engine roar—and their harrowing tales who capture her imagination. In fine detail, this series of stories reveals the technical side of flying, the history of Alaskan aviation, and a world that demands a close communion with extreme physical danger and emotional toughness.
This fascinating account of the development of aviation in Alaska examines the daring missions of pilots who initially opened up the territory for military positioning and later for trade and tourism. Early Alaskan military and bush pilots navigated some of the highest and most rugged terrain on earth, taking off and landing on glaciers, mudflats, and active volcanoes. Although they were consistently portrayed by industry leaders and lawmakers alike as cowboys—and their planes compared to settlers’ covered wagons—the reality was that aviation catapulted Alaska onto a modern, global stage; the federal government subsidized aviation’s growth in the territory as part of the Cold War defense against the Soviet Union. Through personal stories, industry publications, and news accounts, historian Katherine Johnson Ringsmuth uncovers the ways that Alaska’s aviation growth was downplayed in order to perpetuate the myth of the cowboy spirit and the desire to tame what many considered to be the last frontier.
Sarah Andrews' newest geological mystery finds geologist and investigator Em Hansen helping out the Salt Lake City police on the murder of a fellow geologist. Dumped in a gravel quarry, his arms and legs removed and his face bashed in so he'll be unrecognizable, Em IDs him anyway because of a strange tattoo—a geological map of the world—she spots on his body: It's Afton McWain, a controversial figure who worked in big oil in Colorado but who now works in the field of water and droughts. In Andrews' universe, things are never what they seem, and the murder may have as much to do with McWain's personal life (his ex or his common-law wife?) or his overzealous dedication to the "green" lifestyle (the traditional neighbors of his liberal ranch)? as it does with his job. Either way, the combination of suspense and science makes this novel another winner.
Jim Alter was a sophomore in college when Japan attacked the United States. He enlisted, and after an Army programme that condensed years of officer training into a few frantic months, was flying over Europe, dodging German gunners in a B-24. Alter proudly recounts the achievements of his heroic generation as he details this defining chapter of his early life. His memoir focuses on the business of turning citizens into soldiers, and in so doing highlights the tremendous benefits of asking all citizens to sacrifice for the war effort.
Recovering from a broken marriage, schoolteacher Mike Stanton has decided to abandon his life in California and immigrate to New Zealand. With high hopes, a large backpack, money, and documents in hand, Mike boards a Pan Am flight from San Francisco bound for adventure. Trouble arises immediately when his flight develops engine trouble and is diverted to Hawaii. During the days of waiting for another flight to take him onward, Mike falls in love with the beaches, surf, and island girls but is still content to leave when the time comes. Upon his arrival in New Zealand, however, he is informed he cannot immigrate after all. With only three months until his visa expires, Mike decides to explore the stunning countryside—and soon finds himself caught up with a gang of passport counterfeiters. He is stalked and mistaken for an FBI agent, and in the serenity of this South Pacific paradise, he is kidnapped, the first in a series of treacherous events that the wayward teacher may not survive. In this thriller, one man on an extended vacation in New Zealand finds himself out of his depth, mixed up with international criminals, and facing dangers that could end with his death.