Written & Illustrated by Written & Illustrated by Zeffrin Bright Zeffrin Bright

On My Wings You Fly Among The Clouds To The Farthest Reaches Of Your Dreams.

The Secret Life of Flying Machines
Written and Illustrated
by

Zeffrin Bright

ZB PRESS

The Secret Life of Flying Machines
by

Zeffrin Bright © 2009 by ZB Press
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission from the publisher.

ZoomerBoomer.com

CONTENTS

HIGH FLIGHT 6 THE GREAT DREAM 8 THE MYSTERY 12 THE SECRET LIFE OF WARHAWK 18 THE SPOT JAMMER 26 FLYING WITHOUT A CAPE 46 THE REAL REASON PLANES FLY 60 THE GREATEST FLYING MACHINE 68 SHERMAN’S RULE 78 MOMENTUM’S COURSE 92 THE INFINITY PARADOX 116 FLYING MACHINES 130 WILD BLUE 150

To The First Human Who Looked To The Sky And Dared Dream To One Day Fly.

Th e d esi re to fl y i s a n i d ea ha n d ed d ow n to u s b y ou r a n c estors wh o, i n th ei r g ru eli n g tra vel s a c ross tra c k l ess l an d s in p rehi stori c ti m es, l ook ed en vi ou sl y on th e bi rd s soa ri n g freel y th rou g h sp a c e, a t fu ll sp eed , a b ove a ll ob sta c l es, on th e i n fin i te h ig h wa y of th e a i r. — Wi l bu r W ri g h t

1902 Wright Bros. Glider – National Archives

5

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds,—and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air…. Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark nor ever eagle flew— And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. HIGH FLIGHT John G. Magee, Jr., Pilot Officer RCAF September 3, 1941.

6

High Flight

Rendering based on NASA Photo

Space Shuttle

7

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

T H E G R E AT D R E A M Since humankind first looked to the heavens and watched a bird soar among the clouds the dream of flight has lifted our spirits, driven our curiosity, advanced our technology, and shaped our understanding of who we are. As much as any dream, the dream of reaching the sky and the heavens beyond has moved the course of human development and stretched the bounds of human understanding. Achieving the dream is among humanities most towering achievements. This book is dedicated to that dream which lives within us all to reach beyond who we are in search of what we can be.

8

The Great Dream

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Ford TriMotor AT-5

9

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

10

PT-17 Stearman “Kadet”

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

PT-17 Stearman “Kadet”

11

THE MYSTERY

12

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

THE MYSTERY
What is the mystique of flight that so captures our dreams and inspires our imagination? Since the very beginning of humankind we have been entranced by nature’s creatures with the ability to fly and in the possibility of human flight. As much as any human aspiration the dream of flight and all it conjures of soaring through the sky above the earth, among the clouds, and to the stars has helped to lift the advancement of civilization from the beginning of time to the present. To reach above the earth and touch the heavens is to touch the place of gods. The earliest humans dreamed of flight and what lie above the earth. The mythology, artwork, and religion of the past are filled with gods, legends, and images empowered with the ability to fly or living in the heavens. Temples built high and on high places bring believers closer to their idols. The sun hangs in the sky to give light to the day. The moon hangs in the nights to give light to the darkness. The stars float in the heavens that help to guide the way. From the sky pours the rain that gives life to the earth. And when all is done it is to the heavens we hope for our beyond. No matter how far humans traveled from one end of the earth to the other; no matter how high the mountain they might climb; or how tall the temple they might build, everything that was in the sky remained beyond their reach but within their dreams. The dream of flight—and the reach for the skies and beyond – has existed in the human mind for countless eons and it has taken nearly all of human existence to finally realize the dream. We may never know for sure when the dream began or

The Mystery

13

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

turned to earnest effort, but we know early cave art envisioned winged man-like creatures; early Greeks fashioned birdlike wings from wood and cloth. In ancient China humans may have flown on kites, and in France the first flight in a balloon we know took place in 1783. Throughout the 18th Century pioneering efforts around the world to devise flying machines laid the foundation to the first flight. Bird flight was most often the model of study for human flight. Finally, based on the work that preceded them the Wright Brothers were able to achieve the first human controlled powered flight in 1903. Their remarkable accomplishment was the culmination of the entire history of humankind. Their very effort was made possible by all that went before and driven by the dream of human flight that has endured since the beginning of human existence. The remarkable progress in human flight in the 100 years since the conquest of the sky both mirrors and drives the extraordinary advances of the 20th Century. We travel near the speed of sound high above the tallest mountain and every place on earth is now within a day’s travel even for the most ordinary person. Humans have gone into space and set foot on the moon. Satellites have explored the planets; reached to the outer edges of our solar system, and looked back almost to the beginning of time. Perhaps more then any single human achievement, modern flight has transformed the world and changed the way we understand and live upon it. Human flight stands as our greatest single achievement. Both the dream and reality of human flight have shaped our past, driven our present, and will undoubtedly help determine our future.

14

The Mystery

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Buried deep within the extraordinary technological achievement of human flight – which we now take so much for granted – is something far deeper. It is the essence of what makes us human: the power of our imagination to see beyond what never was and to dream of what can be. Without the dream of flight there would never have been the imagining of the possibility of flight, and without the imagining the possibility of flight there would never have been the realization of flight. So it is with all great things of human creation. The Secret Life of Flying Machines is not about flying or flying machines. These are really nothing more then vehicles to carry us on the journeys of our mind. The true secret of flying machines is their ability to lift our dreams and inspire our imagination through the great journey we call life and the human experience. The mystery of flight is knowing it is beyond our grasp to know but within our hope to understand. Two hundred years of human evolution has taught us to believe that whatever we can imagine is within the realm of possibility. No matter how fast or high we reach there will always be something beyond the horizon for us to seek. It is the ultimate metaphor of the human experience that has lifted us from our most primordial beginnings to the first tentative steps beyond our world. As far as we reach there will always be the joy of reaching farther. Sad will be the day when the last flying machine has reached the end of its journey. ~

The Mystery

15

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

16

PBY-5 Catalina Flying Boat

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

PBY-5 Catalina Flying Boat

17

THE SECRET LIFE OF WARHAWK

18

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

P-40 Warhawk

19

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

THE SECRET LIFE OF WARHAWK

I was born into the Curtis-Wright family toward the end of the 1930's when the era of biplanes and fabric-covered wings was giving way to mono-wings and metal skins. The faint clouds of the Second World War had just begun to darken the horizon. At the time the nation was still struggling under the weight of the Great Depression so it was all they could do to raise me during such difficult time. The lineage of the Curtis-Wright family carried me back to the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtis, the great pioneering giants of Aviation. With such illustrious heritage, there was much anticipation for me, yet from the very beginning I know I was a disappointment. Despite being given all that they had and taught all that they knew it seemed in every way I could not perform up to their expectations. Something about me seemed not quite right. It was not that I was so bad or entirely ugly and ill proportioned. In fact there were those who thought I was handsome in a rugged sort of way. . But I had the hefty lines of a workhorse rather then the sleek muscles of a thoroughbred. To carry my hefty build I lacked the strength to move as fast, reach as far, or turn as sharp as was intended. Even II could feel the disappointment and my dreams for future glory quickly faded.

My name is Warhawk and I was made to fly.

20

The Secret Life of Warhawk

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

My bulk and lack of strength held me back. The fact that I was tough and durable was little consolation to me for my otherwise mediocre performance. I suppose if there had been any other choice I would have been ignored entirely, but the clouds of war had quickly turned to a fierce storm that spread around the world. The times were now desperate and I was all that they had. Even so, attention had already turned to younger and more favored siblings and II soon found myself sent off to a distant land and forced to fight under a different flag. I was to be sent to England, already in the second year of its struggle against the German onslaught, but as desperate as they were, even they did not consider me adequate to their needs. So, in the fall of 1941, my life's purpose seemingly over before it had even begun, I found myself on a ship bound for Burma and ultimately destined for China. China had already been at war since 1937 when Japan first invaded but in reality their struggle began years earlier when they were forced to give up Manchuria. Against Japan’s modern army and Air Forces, China's entire coastal region was overrun, cutting it off from desperately needed supplies. Now only the nearly impassable 1,000-mile long road carved through the Mountains of Burma by the hands of 100,000 Chinese Workers linked China to the outside world. The thin, winding thread of the Burma Road was China’s lifeline to India, but under constant assault from Japanese planes and their advancing Army was on the verge of being overrun. The war was at its darkest when I finally arrived in Burma in the early fall of 1941, brought there by my mentor, the extraordinary General Charles Chennault in a

The Secret Life of Warhawk

21

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

desperate effort to stem the Japanese advance and save China from total collapse. As everyone knew, as China went so would open the doorway to Japan's conquest of India and all of Asia. I didn’t know it at the time but I was among the first to be part of a group of 100 ill equipped planes, poorly trained misfit pilots and maintenance crews secretly sent from America by President Roosevelt that would become part of the Chinese Air Force known as the "American Volunteer Group". At the time Pearl Harbor had yet to happen and America itself was not at war. When I first arrived at our base near Rangoon there were fewer then 30 planes among us while against us was nearly 500 hundred Japanese Planes. We had little in the way of facilities or spare parts, and fuel was in constant short supply, yet ingenuity and determination was able to keep us flying, though on any given day usually no more then 20 of us could get in the air. The now famous Shark Teeth painted on our nose, inspired by markings on British planes, seemed a perfect fit to our form and what had always been an awkward oversized nose now made us deadly and fearsome looking. I suspect it did more to build our own confidence then strike any fear into the seasoned Japanese pilots. But at the time, believing in ourselves was all that we seemed to have and all that we really needed. My first taste of war did not come until December 20, 1941, just two weeks after Pearl Harbor. We still wore the flag of China when we into battle but knew it was for America that we were really fighting. Against 10 Japanese Bombers we shot down 9 of them. At last, this is what I was born to do and what a glorious triumph it felt against our enemy.

22

The Secret Life of Warhawk

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

But a few days latter the reality of war hit us hard. We shot down six Japanese bombers and four fighters, but we lost four planes and two pilots. It was sobering and the harsh truth of being vastly outnumbered and fighting against the far more maneuverable Japanese Zero quickly highlighted our shortcomings. It was apparent that going into a dogfight against them was certain death. Yet the war did not give us the luxury of running the other way. On Christmas day Rangoon was attacked by 80 Bombers with 48 Fighters flying cover. We couldn’t go up against them directly so we adapted our tactics to dive from above reaching speeds approaching 500 miles an hour and firing our guns as we passed through the Japanese formations without stopping. At times it seemed I would shake apart but now that hefty build, the armor, and self sealing fuel tanks which had originally slowed me down became the attribute that enabled me to withstand the withering fire and return time and again to fight another day. During the next 10 weeks, as the air battle raged over Rangoon we really earned the title of the "Flying Tigers" given to us by the people of Rangoon. At any given time our strength varied between five and twenty planes, yet we returned again and again to face the overwhelming numbers of Japanese planes: Our commander, Claire L. Chennault, summarized the battle this way: "The tiny force met a total of a thousand-odd Japanese aircraft over Southern Burma and Thailand. In 31 encounters they destroyed 217 enemy planes and probably

The Secret Life of Warhawk

23

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

destroyed another 43. Our losses in combat were four pilots killed in the air, one killed while strafing and one taken prisoner. Sixteen P-40's were destroyed." Winston Churchill, himself, likened what we did to the Great Triumph of the RAF against the German Air Force in the Battle of Britain. Others have pointed out that the odds against us were far worse. For me the patches of sheet metal that cover my countless bullet holes are my badge of courage and knowing I brought my pilot home time and again is all the honor I need. I learned from that time you are not measured in what you are given or by how fast you are, or how sleek you look, or what others may think of you, but rather your real measure is in what you make of yourself. We faced overwhelming odds and pushed beyond our own limits not because of courage but knowing it was right and it was our duty. I came to know that determination, skill, and daring could make you a match for even the deadliest enemy. If there is any greatness in what we did it is not in what we were but in what we became in the face of adversity. In the beginning we were less then others expected, but in the end we had become far better then anyone ever hoped. The Curtis-Wright P-40 Hawk is a legend to this day. It is an enduring reminder of a time of when a few brave men rode into battle on old tired warhorses against a vast armada of enemy planes and won the day.

24

The Secret Life of Warhawk

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

In the dark early days of WW2 when the fate of the world hung in the balance they did not falter. Their accomplishment is a lasting testament to the power of determination and courage even against the most fearsome odds. To share the traits of the WarHawk is to be a true Flying Tiger.

~

The Secret Life of Warhawk

25

THE SPOT JAMMER

26

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

B-17G Flying Fortress

27

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

28

B-17G Flying Fortress

Some planes made it back despite incredible damage, others not. There was no rhyme or reason to who made it and who did not. Chance, skill, experience made no difference. The righteous and the wrong, the young and the old met their fate without fair measure.

Too many died, too many lost. The only thing in good supply was courage. When we cease to remember them what is left worth to remember.

Images from National Archives.

29

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

THE SPOT JAMMER

would like to tell you the story of my cousin, Sherman “Sherry” Klein. He was born in New York in 1924 and grew up in Baltimore. On October 7, 1943 he enlisted in the Air Force, what was then called the Army Air Corps. He was 18 years old. For about a year he trained in the United States – mostly in Sioux Falls, SD - to be an RCM operator on a bomber – Radio/Radar Counter Measures – sometimes referred to as a Spot Jammer or SJ for short. While he was there he met up with Robert Lamons, also in training. The two met when they snuck out of one of those lectures about woman by climbing out a window. In the early part of 1945 he was assigned to the 600 Squadron of the 398th Bomb Group, part of the 8th Air Force. His air base was at Nuthampstead, England where he flew as a Spot Jammer on B-17 Flying Fortress’. Each B-17 typically carried a crew of ten: Pilot, Co-pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Radio Operator, Top-Turret Gunner, Bottom Ball-Turret Gunner, two Waist-Gunners, and a Tail-Gunner. The plane typically flew as part of a large group flying in close formation with each other in an attempt to provide cover fire from attacking enemy fighters. As the name “Flying Fortress implied they bristled with fifty-caliber machine guns out of the front, back, top, bottom, and sides.

I

30

The Spot Jammer

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

A usual bombing mission might involve dozens, even hundreds, and on occasion over a thousand bombers flying in waves over a target. This bombing campaign went on throughout the war in an effort to cripple the German war fighting industry. Oil Refineries, aircraft factories, weapons manufacturing, and ball bearing plants – an essential component of engines – were prime targets. As you can imagine, the German military did its best to stop them. Both sides’ understood destroying the ability to make weapons of war was critical to the outcome of the war. Missions might last 10 hours or more with the planes flying deep into enemy territory at high altitude in temperatures that could reach below minus 60 degrees. There was no pressurization and the planes were open to the freezing cold. Crewman wore heavy layers of clothing with built in electric heaters. The only benefit of the cold was it helped to slow bleeding in case you were wounded. The missions were flown in broad daylight to enable the bombardiers to see their targets. This made the bombers highly vulnerable to heavy enemy anti-aircraft fire – referred to as flak – and enemy fighters that would horde in upon the formations like a swarm of bees. Mechanical problems were almost as much a threat as the enemy. Through the early part of the air campaign the bombers were mostly sent out on their own. There were no fighters that had the range to escort them all the way to the targets. The operations were so dangerous that crews were required to fly only 25 missions before being allowed to return stateside. Of those that flew during the earlier years 65% never made it.

The Spot Jammer

31

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

As the war progressed the enemy defenses were weakened and long-range escort fighters were developed that accompanied the bombers all the way to the targets. Things got better but there were never such a thing as an easy mission or what was called a “milk run”. If the enemy flak and fighters didn’t get you mechanical failure often did. A mission was never over until you were safely on the ground and the engines turned off. The mission requirements were increased to 30 and later 35 but even by the end of the war 20% never survived to reach the goal. For those who might think flying above the battle was a safer place to be then on the land, for the 8th Air Force that conducted the air campaign in Europe the mortality rate was double any other branch of service including the Marines. Nearly 15% of all aircrews - 26,000 - never maid it home. Oddly enough on any given mission one group of planes might have a fairly easy time of it while for another it was the worst day of their life. There was no telling who might get it and who might not. Sherry flew his first mission on February 22, 1945, to Stendal Germany. It was part of an all out bombing effort with 2,000 bombers taking part. The common – and mostly true - image of bomber crews from those days is of each plane’s close-nit crew that flew together, lived together, played together, and sometimes died together. However, tor the Spot Jammers such as Sherry they were not part of any regular crew. They were typically assigned different planes on different missions. On any given mission only one in five planes carried a Spot

32

The Spot Jammer

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Jammer. Sherry never flew with the same crew more then once. So it was that many of the Spot Jammers lived apart and were a breed apart from the rest of the aircrews. You might think of the Spot Jammers as the original Wizzo’s. These are the backseaters on many of today’s front line fighters and bombers who operate the sophisticated electronics used to target weapons and avoid enemy radar detection. During WW2 the Germans had developed effective radar assisted anti-aircraft guns. To counter them the allies equipped some of the bombers with a special transmitter to identify the German radar and transmitters to jam the signal. SJ’s such as Sherry were trained to recognize the signals and counter them as protection for the surrounding planes. Some say that the spot jamming actually drew the enemy fire rather then making it more difficult, but who knows? Even while the end of the war appeared at hand, there was no let up in the intensity of missions or danger. Almost every other day Sherman flew a mission and on every mission at least one plane was lost, and crewman dead or injured. Mechanical failures, flak, and enemy fighters still took their toll right up to the very last day of the war. On April 8, 1945 Sherry was on a mission to the Marshalling Yards for Oil Storage Plants at Derben – a small town about 80 miles from Berlin. His plane, number 4483276 N, was one of 31 planes of the 398th Bomb Group who flew that day. He was one of two SJ equipped planes flying with the 10 aircraft of the Low Squadron.

The Spot Jammer

33

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

The planes and crews assembled on the ground at 5:40 in the morning. Engines were started at 5:50 and they began to taxi out at 6:00. Take-off began at 6:15 and by 6:35 the Low Squadron was the last of the planes to begin their take off. Flying time to the target was about four hours -- as the crow flies about 600 miles each way. The entire mission would take about 10 hours, most of it on Oxygen. Over the target the skies were clear. The Low Squadron approached the target at 12,000 ft, the higher squadron at 24,000. There was no anti-aircraft fire to speak of. Despite the clear weather smoke covered the target area and the mission commander ordered the planes to go around for another pass. The formation made a wide 360-degree turn and came back around. The higher squadrons were able to drop their bombs but the smoke hid the target for the low squadron and they were forced to go around once again. You can well imagine the difficult decision of the Commander to make the call and the grumbling of the crews even as they knew what must be done. On the third pass they dropped their bombs and continued north following the railroad tracks. Twenty miles or so past Derben Sherry’s flight came under heavy anti-aircraft fire. The lead plane was shot in the rear and most of the stabilizer was blown away. With it went the tail gunner. The crippled plain was still able to make it home. Moment’s later Sherry’s plane was hit in the wing between the number 1 and 2 engine. It folded up in flames and the plane made a dive toward the earth, exploding in the air before it hit the ground.

34

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Waist-gunner Bob Templeton somehow managed to pry open the hatch and bail out in the 20 seconds before the plane exploded. In a moment of fate that defies our effort to make sense or reason Bob had gone to help the tail-gunner who had been hit by shrapnel. As he was returning to his position the plane was struck in the tail, killing the gunner he had just helped. Almost certainly the blast would have killed him as well. Moments later the plane was hit with the fatal blow to the wing. Bob was taken prisoner and after the war would later recount to Leonard Streitfeld what had happened. Leonard was a bombardier on the plane right behind them and saw from the outside what had happened. The picture of a plane falling without its wing is as close as likely to imagine it must have looked to Leonard. In the moments before he escaped the plane Bob Templeton saw “a photographer in the radio room taking pictures of the bomb strike” who never made it out. In those brief moments Bob could see enough to know he was already finished. In fact that photographer was actually Sherry. So it was that Sherry, the Spot Jammer, was just a nameless face even among the crew. The plane went down in Krusemark, a small town some 25 miles north of Derben. Except for Templeton all where lost. The entire crew included: Lt. William E. Wells, Pilot; Lt. Thomas A. Clark, Co-Pilot; Lt. George C. Munroe, Navigator; S/Sgt. Clement A. LeScale, Bombardier; T/Sgt. Bill Wickens, Engineer; S/Sgt. Marion B. Hamilton, Radio Op.; Sgt. Robert A. Templeton, Right Waist Gunner; Sgt. Lamar Q. Coleman, Ball Turret Gunner; Sgt. Jack E. Roush, Tail Gunner; SSgt. Sherman S. Klein, RCM.

The Spot Jammer

35 The Spot Jammer

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Bob Templeton was the lone survivor. Sherry and several other members of the Wells crew are now buried at the Margraten Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, To this day there are members of the local community and the veterans of the 398th who go to pay their respects and honor their sacrifice. The people of Nuthampstead have also erected a monument to their service. In reading the diaries written by members of the 398th Bomb Group who flew that day to Dreben some described it as the best day of their life – it was their last mission and by standards an easy one. For others it was the worst and most harrowing mission of the war. For Sherry and his fellow crewmembers it was the last moments of their life. The 398th Bomb Group flew 11 more missions before the war was over – almost every day until the end. The unit’s last mission was only 2 weeks later on April 25, 1945. On that mission the units last plane was lost and all aboard killed. A week later the war in Europe was over. My mother tells me that Sherman was a very fine young man. There are few pictures of him but the ones we have show him to be handsome, good-natured and decent in every way. I never met him but if he was anything like his younger brother Marvin then he was of exceptional good character. Like so many family and friends of soldiers during the war, my mother sent “care packages” and he in turn sent her letters. She received one shortly before he died telling her the end of the war was near.

36

The Spot Jammer

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

I can’t help but think that with the war so close to an end the pain of loss for his mother and father must have been so much more unbearable. You have to wonder upon the children that will never be born and the lives that will never be touched by his never coming home. I was named after Sherry, a name I am so proud to carry. As you might imagine I always was curious about him. According to family history the most I knew growing up was that he was shot down at the end of the war and was killed trying to escape. A few years ago I wanted – or perhaps needed – to know more. The “need to know” seems to run deep in many who have lost a loved one. The story I have told you is as best as I will ever likely be told of Sherry’s fateful day. It was made possible thanks to the extraordinary help of the veterans of the 398th Bomb Group. Like so many other military units from WWII they carry on the memory of their fallen comrades and the days when the future of the world hung in the balance and those young men did not flinch from their duties. With so many of the veterans of that time now gone and the memories faded and forgotten it remains for us the living to live on in their honor. As much as Sherry’s life still remains something of an enigma I have carried his memory with me throughout my life. Carrying his name and even knowing what little I did helped shape my life. Of course I am saddened by never having gotten to meet Sherry, and that his life was taken away so young. It was a loss to his mother Myra, his father Arthur, his brother Marvin, his friends and all his family. There are children he might have had

The Spot Jammer

37

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

that will never be born and future generations of his the world will never know. Who can know what tomorrow has lost with Sherman and all the rest? Being named after Sherman has always been and will always be a great honor I carry with me. Thought I never met him yet I remain inspired by him. It is probably why I joined the Air Force when I was still 17; why I have such a strong interest in aviation. More then that his sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all the rest has left me with a lasting respect for what it is to be free and what it means to fight for freedom. It has taught me to value life as well as not to fear death. Remember, Robert Lamons, who knew Sherman from their training time in Sioux Falls when they both jumped out a window to get out of listening to one of those regular "Talks about Woman" events common at military bases. It was not that they became buddies but they shared that common moment that made them familiar to each other and whenever they ran into each other they would flash a V for victory sign as their secret greeting of that moment. Coincidently they both got assigned to the 398th 600th Sq., but Robert was part of a regular crew so they really didn't hang out. Still they shared that moment from back in Sioux Falls whenever their paths crossed. On April 7th, the day before the Dreben mission Sherman came to visit him at his Quonset hut. Richard actually found this surprising because he didn't even know that Sherman knew where he was.

38

The Spot Jammer

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

As Richard describes it Sherman put his foot up on the locker and rested his arms across his leg and they just shot the breeze as any two young fellows might do. There was nothing in the conversation that was anything suggesting a premonition, in fact they joked about Richard wanting Sherman's jacket because it had a extra fine quality or fit to it in case anything happened to him. Sherman replied, "There's no way the German's will ever catch me, but if they do you can have it." Richard still has that jacket to this day. By one of those moments in time that defy reason or understanding which sometimes connect people in large or small or unimaginable ways, or took lives, or saved lives, Richard has continued to hold in him a part of Sherman's memory to this day. The conversation I had with Richard was very moving for both of us. Sherman is one of thousands of stories on the vagaries of war – and of life itself – who lives and who dies. There is little hope we have of figuring it out or controlling its outcome. Some might find such randomness and senselessness disconcerting. They may seek faith in a higher power for comfort amidst the confusion as an easy means to resolve the un-resolvable. All of us would like to think we are in control of our living and yet as we are reminded by Sherry’s brief life – and that of all his fellow airmen - how little control we really have. I don’t find that discouraging at all.

The Spot Jammer

39

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

I am indebted to their sacrifice and the only way I can honor them is to approach life – every uncertain moment of it – with the courage, dignity, and honor of these young men. Each day they climbed into their Flying Machines knowing there was a good chance they would not return yet they did not turn from their duty. The sky is a place of great beauty and also of great danger. For those whose life takes them to the sky there is no way of knowing when it will ask its price. We may not be able to control how or when we die but we can control how we choose to live. So it is with every one of us who ever climbed into the sky since the beginning of time. We go there believing we shall return but knowing we may not. And when we do return – for most of us – it is only until the next chance we have to go again. The sky does not care whether there is a good time or a right time for us mortals to die. We may have beaten you but you are forever reminding us that you are never beaten. Your power to inspire in us dreams of tomorrow remains alive for all of us and the power of your beauty remains for all of us to see. Soon all who lived through those desperate times will be gone. Left will be a few pictures and words – merely footnotes to the history of another time -- but the people, the people who lived through those most desperate of times and saved the world will be gone forever and mostly forgotten. The lost dreams and possibilities of their lives will only be truly lost if we allow ourselves to give up on our dreams.

40

The Spot Jammer

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Sherman Rattner Reference information about the 398th Bomb Group and their remarkable story at http://www.398th.org/

~

The Spot Jammer

41

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

42

C-47 Skytrain “Gooney Bird”

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

B-29 Super Fortress and P-51 Mustang

43

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

44

F-4U Corsair

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

P-59 AiraComet

45

FLYING WITHOUT A CAPE

46

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

F-86 Sabrejet

47

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

FLYING WITHOUT A CAPE
was flying above the streets of New York, not more then a hundred feet or so off the ground. It was an incredible sensation. Sometimes I sped up to traveling faster then the cars below as I weaved through the canyons of buildings along the main thoroughfares and side streets of the city. When something caught my attention I slowed down to take a closer look. If it was particularly interesting I occasionally hovered in place over the street below or in front of a window or other detail of the cityscape that caught my attention. I steered wherever I wanted in complete control. No one seemed to notice me. No one even looked. You might think I was indivisible or even dead – an angel hovering between heaven and the earth. What is particularly amazing is that I was not in any kind of flying machine. Not a plane or helicopter, balloon or jet pack. I was simply, effortlessly, and with no apparent aid of any kind, flying. The closest I can describe it is a humming bird – able to dart about or hover at will

I

48

Flying Without A Cape

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

whenever the nectar of a flower drew attention and then using its long beak to suck out the life sustaining juices that carried with it the seeds of tomorrow. But the hummingbird is not quite right to describe the sensation. The hummingbird moves with such fits and starts, darting from place to place. The rapid movement of its wings – the humming of the humming bird - is far to frenetic compared to my easy effortless flight. You’re probably thinking superman or some comic book hero’s kind of flight, but no, that is not quite right either. Here is the closest I can describe which you yourself might have experienced. Have you ever roller skated or ice-skated? What an mind-blowing sensation to roll effortlessly down the street weaving in and out through moving crowds of people and around or over obstacles. Twirling, twisting through a leisurely turn or a skillful pirouette. Gliding backwards, spinning around, pausing on a whim whenever it suits your or hovering about. Just as easy as racing down the street is an effortless glide taking in the sights. Roller skating, or ice-skating, if you prefer, is what I call the art of effortless controlled state of being in a constant position of almost falling down without ever actually hitting the ground. The same can pretty much be said of what flying is. Now imagine you are skating in the air and you can move just as effortlessly up and down and all around, except fully in three dimensions - including backwards – and

Flying Without A Cape

49

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

any combination of movements that suites your fancy as you discover the nectars of life that feed your imagination. Not only am I free to move in all directions through space but just as freely alter my orientation in space. If I choose to stand on my head while moving up and backwards and twisting along a center axis its as easy as walking down the street for a Sunday afternoon stroll. That is the way I am flying. Pretty nifty – huh? I bet you wish you could fly like that. I bet you might have already thought of what it is like to fly something like that. Ordinarily such flying is reserved for angels, but not if you know the secret of how to do it. First you have to learn how to skip. It helps if you have ever roller or ice-skated. Next you have to believe you can fly. To do that you have to know that like the bee there is no reason you can’t fly because you have already flown. Every time you jump, or run -- when even for the briefest moments you have left the ground -- you have flown. The problem isn’t if you can fly, its for how long you can fly. So here you go. Find an open space – preferably a flat grassy field. Pick a day with a pleasant cool breeze and lots of billowy clouds spread around a clear blue sky. Now begin your skip. Remember, a skip is not a run. You hop twice on one foot, then

50

Flying Without A Cape

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

a long jump to the next foot and two hops on that foot. Repeat the move over and over going faster and faster. Now swing your arms as if you are reaching for the sky. Pretty soon -- if you skip fast enough and reach high enough -- and for a longer moment that might surprise you, you will be flying almost close enough to reach the clouds. And for a moment that will seem longer then you might imagine you will find you almost did fly and the sensation that maybe next time you will fly. And so it is with all of flight, where the possibility seems just beyond our reach but somewhere within our grasp, and the very real possibility that if we dare to grasp for the stars we just might actually reach them. And that is what has taken humankind from where it began to where it is and where it will someday be. ~

Flying Without A Cape

51

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

52

L-1049 Super Constellation

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

F-102 Delta Dagger

53

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

54

YB-49 Norton Flying Wing

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

YB-49 Norton Flying Wing

55

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

56

B-52 Strato Fortress

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

B-52 Strato Fortress

57

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

58

Boeing 707

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Boeing 707

59

THE REAL REASON PLANES FLY

60

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

THE REAL REASON AIRPLANES FLY

in the air. For example, you may have heard of Bernoulli’s principle – essentially it says because of the curve on the upper surface of a wing the air on top of the wing moves faster then the air on the bottom of the wing thereby causing a lower pressure on top and the plane is pulled “up”. In fact this is only a partial explanation and in fact all explanations are based on theories and experimental data rather then a complete understanding. However, none of them are the real reason airplanes fly. The fact is we don’t really know exactly why and how planes, birds, or insects really fly. This is quite remarkable when you consider how routinely we get into a plane carrying hundreds of people that flies thousands of miles near the speed of sound thousands of feet above the ground. Except for some vague notions concerning the forces of lift, drag, thrust, and gravity we really don’t know how it actually works. Fortunately for all of us we don’t have to know how something works to it to work or for us to have confidence it will work, but we do need to believe it will work if we hope for it to actually work.

There are a number of scientific theories of flight – of how and why things stay

The Real Reason Airplanes Fly

61

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

One day I was traveling aboard a 747. It was my first flight on this gigantic flying machine. As we taxied from the terminal I looked first toward the front of the cabin and then toward the back. As many times as I have flown I can’t help but be awe struck by the staggering size of a 747 cabin and all the people sitting inside. As much as I know the principles of why planes fly each time I travel I am still in wonderment that such a mammoth structure can actually take us aloft and carry us high above the earth for thousands of miles as casually as if we strolled across town. By every appearence it seems to defy appearences that such a large thing can possibly fly. Looking out the window while the planes taxis its way toward the start of the runway you may notice how there is a certain hum of the engines and a slow bobbing of the plane as it passes over irregularities in the paving that causes the wings to gently flap slightly up and down. Watching this out the window made me think of a bird stretching its wings early in the morning getting ready for its first flight of the day. You probably have also noticed that even when the plane is in the air the wings tend to flap up and down. Sometimes when the air is particularly rough the flapping movement of the wings moves so far in each direct that you can’t help but wonder if they will fall off. With extraordinarily rare exception, they always manage to stay on. The true wonder is in the Human ability that we can create such things. Of course I know all about Bernoulli’s Principle and Newton’s third law as to why planes fly, but on this particular occasion as the plane taxied out to the runway and the wings bobbled up and down, and the hum of the engines filled the vast space of the cabin, I noticed there were two kinds of people on board. The first group so

62

The Real Reason Airplanes Fly

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

casually went about their business you might think they were having morning coffee. They were completely oblivious to the fact that they were sitting in a machine nearly the size of a football field that was about to lift them to an altitude of 35,000 feet above the earth and carry them 3,0000 miles across the country at 600 miles an hour. I thought of them, “What an astonishing leap of faith in the abilities of humanity to create such marvels of ingenuity.” By all of their upbringing and all of their knowledge and experience they had come to know that the plane would fly just as surely as putting one foot in front of the other would lead them forward. They no more had to think about the plane flying as they would have to think about walking. For most of these air-travelers the wonder of flight had given way not just to indifference but actual annoyance. Flying had become merely an unavoidable inconvenience of getting from one place to another. 20,000 years or so of the human dream of flight and had made it possible to cross a continent in a few hours rather then months and all they could care about was the minor annoyance of sitting on the ground longer then they expected. As casual and indifferent as the first group was toward the approaching wonder of flight, the other -- and much smaller group -- seemed just as intently drawn to stare out the windows in anticipation. I could feel their excitement, and perhaps even a twinge of their fear at the uncertainty of what lay ahead. Suddenly, as I watched these two groups I realized that Bernoulli and Newton had nothing to do with why this plane would or could take to the sky.

The Real Reason Airplanes Fly

63

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

The Plane turned onto the main runway and I could hear the engines go to full throttle. I could feel it start to accelerate down the runway and my body shuddered as it strained to pick up speed. Faster and faster it went struggling down the runway to free itself from earth. At that moment I realized how silly it was to think merely air rushing over the top of a wing could somehow lift us off the ground. No, flying had nothing to do with that. Bernoulli’s Principle. Newton’s’ third Law. These were not the reasons the plane would fly. They were merely the reasons to allow ourselves to believe it could fly. Our collective belief that this plane could and will lift itself from the ground made it possible that this plane and every plane that ever lifted from the earth did fly. It may have taken almost all of human existence to gain that beleif but it was about to lift this giant metal flying machine into the air. I looked out the window as the ground moved past us faster and faster and at that moment along with all the other people who still felt wonder at flight, I willed this Plane into the air and it obliged us by breaking free of the ground and soaring upward to the sky. In return for our effort the plane smiled to me with the smoothness that engulfed it at the very moment we became aloft. The smile quickly followed with a grin as the flaps and gear retracted into place with a shudder as if to say, “I’m free, once again I’m free at last.”

64

The Real Reason Airplanes Fly

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

At that instant, with the chains of earth broken and the plane climbing through the clouds where it was always meant to be, I knew the only reason – the real reason -- planes can fly is because I beleive it so.

~

The Real Reason Airplanes Fly

65

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

66

MH-53 Pave Low Helicopter

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

A-4 Sky Hawk

67

THE GREATEST FLYING MACHINE

68

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

SR-71 Black Bird

69

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

THE GREATEST FLYING MACHINE

To the credit of human imagination we have conjured up - at least in our fiction
if not our reality - nearly every form of flying machine there likely is (though I do not doubt the future holds a few that have yet to be even imagined). Fictional inventions such as Warp Drive takes us from one end of the universe to the other in weeks; Worm Holes and Star Gates take us even faster. Time machines take us places before we even left or after we have already arrived. Real and imagined transporters, jet packs, mental levitation, supersonic, transonic, hypersonic and ultrasonic carry us around the planet from point to point in a flash that once took months and years. Our reality may not have fully caught up with all of our imagination’s designs but science has advanced enough to at least suggest the possibility – however remote the probability – of many of our some of our wildest creations. The closest stars are several years away even traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), and current scientific theory generally holds that nothing can move faster then the speed of light. Even so, traveling near the speed of light at least puts the closest stars within range of eventually being plausible. Consider if you will how fast and far we have come in just the 100 years since the Wright Bros. first flight to imagine how far we might travel in the next 100 years.

70

The Greatest Flying Machine

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Most fictional forms of star travel seem to defy our current understanding of the universe. Nevertheless there is so little we understand of the universe I would be surprised if buried within all that we don’t know is the possibility for just about anything. The enduring truth throughout the development of human civilization has been whatever we think we know about something at any given time is probably wrong. The world may have seemed flat until we saw that it was round. The earth may have seemed at the center of the universe until we saw it was not. Today we may think existence ends at the boundary of the universe or before the beginning of time. But I believe that truth is something that lies just beyond the bounds of what we can see but not beyond what we can imagine. Chances are if the human species manages to survive its own propensity toward self-destruction much of what we have imagined will someday be a reality. Perhaps this is the truth of all of the human experience that if we can imagine something it can be true and for something to be true we must first imagine it to be possible. The flying machine that has carried us further and fastest -- the greatest flying machine of all – has proven to be our mind. There is a part of me – it lies somewhere at the boundary layer between the world I see as real and that which takes over in my dreams -- that believes all of what we think as real is nothing more then a convenient creation of our mind. Call this mental creation simply a framework for seeing the world as we imagine it. The world we see as our reality is merely a form of physicality to confirm our minds suspicions about the nature of the real world. Like a baby needs a something to hold

The Greatest Flying Machine

71

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

on to when it first begins to walk, the physical reality we think exists around us is really just a temporary crutch for our minds as we learn to think. The long road to humankind’s first flight was not simply a series of technological needed to make flight possible, but rather a building of the framework for us to believe it is possible. Without believing something is possible then nothing is possible. In time we will not need the appearances of wings or other physical artifacts to lift us up and move us forward. We will know that our imagination is the reality that makes it all possible. When that time comes we will no longer need devices to fly but only the will and desire to do it, and a place to want to go. Without a destination – a place we need to go, a place we want to go – what need is there for flight. Flying is the manifestation of humankinds search for understanding its place in existence. We will reach the limits of the universe and beyond – for almost surely beyond the edge of what we see as our universe there are more universes to be seen – we will travel from the beginning of time to the end of time with the speed of thought – the greatest flying machine of all. Just how fast is the speed of thought? Existence is both infinitely large and infinitely small. Within everything is everything…. The smallest thing is the largest thing and within the largest thing is the smallest thing and within the smallest thing is everything.

72

The Greatest Flying Machine

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

If this seems beyond reason to believe I put with you this thought: Our greatest scientists are in near universal agreement that our universe – who knows how many others there are – began with a giant explosion of matter – the big bang – some fourteen billion light-years ago. Before that moment all of the matter that now makes up the universe – all of the hundreds of billions of stars and planets, matter and anti-matter, and energy was hardly larger then the human head. Think about it, that everything that exists in the entire known universe – of which more then 95% of is referred to as only “dark energy” and “dark matter” is unseen and unaccounted for except through their apparent effects on the visible universe. Less then 5% of our universe is in the actual energy and matter of the billions of stars and planets. All the rest is unseen, and yet by the apparent behavior of the universe something must exist. I like to think of this unaccounted material as the power of our imagination; the power of our thought. Just as technology has allowed us to see ever deeper into space -- nearly to the beginning of our universe 14 billion years ago -- and to ever smaller objects -- smaller then electrons, so it will be in the future that we will see even further and smaller into the realm of the now unseen matter and energy that is all around us. The fact that we cannot see something obviously does not mean it is not there. It only means that it is yet to be seen.

The Greatest Flying Machine

73

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

I can imagine human flight without the need for devices of any kind. I can imagine humans reaching beyond the stars. I can imagine a world that lives in peace and justice, and a human existence without suffering and hate. This morning, in the last moments of a dream before I awoke I imagined I had traveled beyond the edge of the universe simply by the power of my mind and in that place I saw a world as it might be. I saw a world as I imagine it is rather then the one we know. And in the midst of that dream the world I saw was as real to me as the one you or I see every day. We are like the first humans who looked to the skies and dreamed of flight. Today II look to the skies and dream of another kind of human flight knowing that if I can imagine it, someday it can be. If all of the universe once existed within a size no bigger then my head, then I know within the power of my mind –- and every other person’s mind –- lies everything there is to know. Life then, is discovering what we already know and allowing our imagination to takes us to places we have already been.

~

74

The Greatest Flying Machine

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

F-14 Tom Cat

75

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

76

F-14 Tom Cat

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

F-14 Tom Cat

77

SHERMAN’S RULE

78

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

North American X-15 Rocket Plane

79

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

SHERMAN’S RULE

new by taking a different path.

Never go the same way twice when you have the chance to discover something

Barely a century has passed since the Wright Bros. first flight. During that time the world has changed more profoundly then any other comparable period in human history. We have gone from the horse and buggy to the moon, regular manned journeys into space, and un-manned spacecraft beyond the reaches of our solar system. The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed us to look back in time almost to the beginning of the universe. Satellites peer down on earth that allows us to see our world and communicate among ourselves in unimaginable ways. Thanks to modern Air Travel nearly every place on earth is less then a day away. A flight by air across a continent can take less time then a road trip to the next town. Journeys once measured in days and months are now measured in minutes and hours. Distance is no longer calculated in miles but in time. Air Travel, and many of the technologies it has helped spawn has connected the world in ways we only imagined – sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

80

Sherman’s Rule

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

As the visionary thinker, R. Buckminster Fuller recognized during the ‘60’s, we live on a “Spaceship Earth”. With the world connected like never before what happens in even the most distant places can affect us all. Despite our technological accomplishments, the more we have learned the less we seem to know and understand. Despite our achievements the world is still plagued by many of the same problems that have always faced humankind only now the consequences have become global in nature and catastrophic in their impact. As easily as we travel the world from one place to another is as easy as disease, hunger, weapons of mass destruction, and environmental destruction follow with us. The future of flight promises to bring us even closer then ever before. Faster and large planes; flying machines that carry us directly to our destination; personal flying machines, and the proliferation of intercontinental flying weapons are likely part of our future. But at the heart of human flight, in whatever form it takes, is the fundamental law of Newtonian Physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is the essence of the physicality of what enables planes to fly and rockets to reach beyond the Earth. Understanding this basic principle and applying it was central to human flight. Yet for all our mastery of science we have ignored this basic law when it comes to the world we live in and how we live in it.

Sherman’s Rule

81

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

We have lived as if our actions have no consequences – that for every action we take there is no reaction. We lived as if the smoke from our factories and byproducts of our existence did not have consequences. We have lived as if tomorrow will always bring a solution without realizing that it will also bring its own problems – problems that are likely far greater in their potential consequence then the problems they solve. We can marvel at what the Dream of Flight has helped accomplish but we must also recognize the laws of physics demand a price in return. Just as the plane carries us faster then the horse and the jet engine faster then the piston engine, so to the consequences of our actions and inactions are realized that much faster. As the world we live in accelerates we have less time to change course when we are headed for disaster. The realization of the Dream of Flight has helped bolster our belief that for every problem there is a technical solution and every challenge and opportunity, but we seem to have ignored the fact that for every solution we find there is at least another problem it creates. And the problem it creates – often in ways that may not be obvious, but there nevertheless – can be more difficult to resolve then the problems they solve. Jet travel may bring the world closer to us, but it also brings us closer to the world in ways we do not always want or understand. The airplane made possible the ability to travel around the world in hours but it has also made possible global annihilation in minutes.

82

Sherman’s Rule

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

In a very real sense Flying Machines are time machines. Much of what we have accomplished has been to accelerate time – going faster, reaching further, doing more –but we do so by borrowing from the future. The innumerable industrial processes that make building and operating Flying Machines – and most technologies -- possible also threaten our survival by demanding huge amounts of energy, waste, and other toxic resources. The dream of flight has expanded our reach around the world, extended our reach out toward the stars, and enabled our reaching back almost to the beginning of time. Let it also help us reach forward with the understanding that what we find tomorrow depends on what we bring with us from today. The Dream of Flight has taken us to where we are by inspiring human imagination along a path toward the future. Where will the dream take us now? Never before has the opportunities for humanity been so great or the dangers to its continued existence so much greater. Our ability to achieve good and wondrous things has never been more within our grasp but our ability to destroy ourselves has never been so real. To say that the fate of the world and the survival of life as we know it hangs in the balance of what we do now is no exaggeration. Let us not forget that It has taken humanity a hundred thousand years to realize the dream of flight but only one hundred years to realize the ability to destroy ourselves completely. The Dream of Flight has been humankind’s greatest and most enduring dream that has helped take us to where we are in the present -– for all the good and bad of

Sherman’s Rule

83

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

it. But if we are to reach beyond who we are perhaps it is time for a new dream to help lift us toward what we can be instead of what we are. Whatever that dream might be I imagine it lies somewhere within our spirit and the power of our imagination. The dream of flight has lifted us physically above the bounds of earth. Now is the time for a new dream that can lift our heart and soul above the bounds of who we are. The dream of flight has helped us believe in the future, which has led us to the present. Now it is time for us to take a new path if we are to discover the very best of what we can be. ~

84

Sherman’s Rule

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

C-130 Hercules

85

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

86

F-15 Falcon

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

The purpose of a warplane is to keep enemies from wanting to go to war and ending them quickly if they do.

87

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

88

F-16 Falcon

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

F-16 Falcon

89

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

According

to the theory of aerodynamics, as may be readily demonstrated through wind tunnel experiments, the bumblebee is unable to fly. This is because the size, weight and shape of his body in relation to the total wingspread make flying impossible. But the bumblebee, being ignorant of these scientific truths, goes ahead and flies anyway—and makes a little honey every day.
Attributed to a Sign in a General Motors Corporation plant*

*Ralph L. Woods, The Businessman’s Book of Quotations, pp. 249–50 (1951). “Antoine Magnan, a French zoologist, in 1934 made some very careful studies of bumblebee flight and came to the conclusion that bumblebees cannot fly at all! Fortunately, the bumblebees never heard this bit of news and so went on flying as usual.”—Ross E. Hutchins, Insects, p. 68 (1968). Magnan’s 1934 work was Le Vol des Insectes (vol. 1 of La Locomotion Chez les Animaux).

90

Bees Don’t Fly

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog”

91

MOMENTUM’S COURSE

92

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

F-15E Strike Eagle

93

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

MOMENTUM’S COURSE

the hot and exceedingly bright sunny early part of August when the end of the school year in June had long since been forgotten and the opening of school in September was too far away to be any concern or even a thought. As my sisters Zoe and Janet later told me, they had set out, with no particular purpose, down the wooded trail that curled it's way along the banks of Mallory creek. Knowing Zoe as I did, adventurous as she was, and not at all opposed to getting in a little or a lot of trouble, I always suspected there was purpose in the direction she went, knowing full well where it was likely to lead her and who she was likely to meet. The fact that she had spent countless hours with Janet, the youngest of our threesome, in our back yard teaching her to swing fearlessly from the tire hung on the large oak, gave me more then a little reason to suspect there was a method to Zoe's madness. Don't get me wrong; Janet was a very willing participant in every one of Janet's schemes, even if she didn't know it was a scheme she was part of. Janet idealized Zoe and was more then happy to swing through the air on their makeshift trapeze. A method to her madness best summoned up who Zoe is. It's not so much that she looked for trouble; it's just that it always presented itself in front of her and she was not one to back down in even the smallest way. But like a general with inferior

Almost every child could remember a day like this:

94

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

forces she was smart enough to know when and how to pick a field of battle that best played to her strengths. So if it seemed at times that what she did made no sense at all, it was simply that she was maneuvering herself to advantage for whatever intended purpose she might have had. Rumor had it that not long before the school year had ended a number of the more rowdy boys from Eastbridge had mistreated her and Zoe on their way home from school. Neither would ever divulge the exact nature of the crime, but it was probably nothing more then what boys are apt to do to girls before they are old enough to wish for better things. I suspect it had something to do with Zoe having developed earlier then most girls in certain parts of her body that for some unknown reason attracted boys like flies to honey. Whatever the affront, Zoe had plotted her revenge in a form surely to be as humiliating to the offending boys as possible. As the oldest of the three of us, and our surrogate mother, she was also apt to use it as a morality play for Janet, who she seemed to instinctively know, would need regularly coaxing if her full potential was to be realized. Janet, mind you had that unique blend of good looks, athletic ability, and brains, but lacked enough belief in herself to realize the potential. Young as Zoe was at the time, she was still seasoned enough to realize that nothing humiliated boys more then to loss to a girl, and especially to loss to one as young as her sister Janet. Sure Zoe could have beaten most boys her age one on one in most anything. She was spry, athletic, and well coordinated in a way rarely associated with young girls. But the fact she was taller then most boys her age, as nature was inclined to arrange things for a few years more, a triumph by Zoe would not provide quite the same degree of humiliation as a good throbbing at the hands of

Momentum’s Course

95

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

her little sister Janet. As it was Zoe was quite aware that Janet was even more dexterous then herself. Oddly enough I was the least coordinated of the three, rather uncoordinated as a matter of fact, which provided me no end of embarrassment, as I was the boy of the family and supposedly the stand-in for a dad we never got to know. That I seemed to be provided a little more of the brains among three very bright children was of no solace at the time. If it bothered Zoe that she was using Janet for her own purpose, she justified it by the fact that it would also help make Janet a stronger person. Zoe knew her sister could be lazy at times. Of the three of us, little Janet seemed to combine the best combination of brains, beauty and brawn. But unless she was pushed along, Janet was more likely then not to take the path of least resistance. Pushed to a challenge, however, and there was no stopping her. So if Zoe was inclined to create hurdles for Janet to leap over, and they just happen to serve some other purpose of Zoe's, so much the better. As Zoe liked to put it, "Plant two flowers with one seed." Along the Mallory, a short distance below the old wooden bridge the creek made a sharp bend and immediately widened enough to slow the rush of water into a quite good sized pond, well hidden from all except the most determined lookers. A wall of granite, with a deep undercut, rose out of the water to form one side of the pond. In the flat area above, young men were known to bring willing, and sometimes not so willing girls for a few hours of night time necking while uncomfortably cramped in the back seat of their cars.

96

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

For most girls the nights view was all they we're ever likely to see of Bone Bend, as it had come to be known. Bone Bend was that secret place handed down from one generation of Eastbridge boys to the next, which was kept strictly off limits to all girls. With it's muddy water and banks overgrown with creepy crawly things why would any girl be interested in it in the first place. Accordingly, it was ideally suited as the private lair for the male of the species. The area above the granite wall could only be reached by a circuitous route along a dirt road. At night it offered a splendid view of star filled skies with the pleasant sound of the creek running below. There was enough room for half a dozen cars to park in reasonable seclusion from each other at any given time. For the boys on the edge of manhood it was a rite of passage to spend an evening parked among the elm with a girl. Heavy petting was probably the most anyone ever felt even though most boys were apologized by ego to artfully exaggerate their achievements. Those girls who did find this way to visit Bone Bend were invariably the subjects of the next day’s gossip, and not without achieving their own form of stature. The younger boys, the ones whose interests had not yet turned to such lascivious thoughts, used the pond below as their private swimming hole safely hidden from female incursions. Along the opposite shore from the shear wall of granite was an area the boys could use to dive in. A large tree seemed to grow half out of the water and half from the land to form a twisted knot of roots. From one of its higher branches hung a heavy rope that nicely served the boys to compete in swinging out and letting themselves fall in for the biggest splash. The classic scene, no doubt repeated in a

Momentum’s Course

97

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

thousand small towns across the country, was completed with a makeshift raft that floated just beyond the drop zone. From this idyllic spot boys could romp among themselves in total abandon, free from the tyranny of the opposite sex. Quite simply, they could soar with fantasies without fear that someone might in the least way remind them of reality, which, of course, women had a nasty habit of doing at the least opportune time. One moment they were pirates storming the crimson gallons. The next they were eagles flying with the clouds. Most of all they were free of any intrusion that might tell them to clean their rooms or put away their toys. If they cared to roll in the mud of this primeval ooze they needn't be concerned at how they looked or who they needed to impress. And as they grew older, and their fantasies turned to other things, the plains above the granite cliffs served as a secure field from which to make their first forays into the intimate mysteries of the opposite sex. And as they grew older still, too old for romping about with their comrades at the swimming hole or spending an evening in the back seat of their parents car with the local tart, at least they could stop along the old wooden bridge down stream and take a moments pause from their tired adult lives to reminisce upon carefree youthful days at Bone Bend. From the wooden bridge they couldn't actually see Bone Bend, the curving creek hid it just beyond the line of sight, but every man of Eastbridge knew it was there, and that was enough. And on certain days, the kind one finds in early August, when the creek is at it's lowest and the summer heat too hot for birds to sing, one might just make out the sound of young boys swinging out on the rope and dropping in for the biggest splash.

98

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

That was just the kind of day it was when Sheriff Parker Allen stopped along the bridge to have a cigarette and reflect upon where his life had gone while comforting himself in old memories. At about that moment, Zoe and Janet where making their way along the path that snaked it’s way through the woods beside the creek from the south up towards Bone Bend. The going was tough and occasionally the path became blocked by a miniature fjord, swampy ooze, or some other natural obstacle they would have to leap across or work their way over, around or under. Zoe came to an abrupt halt. She listened intently for the longest time until an annoyed Janet complained. "What is it? Why are we stopping?" Zoe answered with a gleeful smile, a finger to her lips, a soft "Shhhh" and a single word, "Listen." Janet strained to hear, but not surprisingly there was nothing. This was Zoe's gift, the gift of sound. She could sense the presence of sounds long before anyone else could even hope to hear them. And for her, every sound became music. "Do you hear it?" Still Janet could not make anything out, and her frustration was beginning to show, when suddenly her eyes lit up. Now she could hear it, and it was so clear that she wondered why she hadn't heard it all along. They smiled knowingly at each other and then continued toward their destination.

Momentum’s Course

99

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

As they walked the next hundred feet up the path the sounds grew sharply louder. It was the sound of young boys frolicking about the swimming hole. You could hear the splashes as they jumped in off of the rope, mixed with laughter and indiscernible chatter. The path made a sharp hook to the left, in line with the bend in the creek, and all at once, through a break in the trees, the two sisters could finally see the source of the sounds. The creek had opened up, and before them, bathed in the bright August sun, lay Bone Bend in all its mystical glory. They moved closer as would two criminals sneaking into a temple about to steal priceless artifacts of worship, until they reached some bushes to hide behind. They could almost reach out and touch one of the boys who languished in the mud, spread eagle in front of them. At first they became alarmed at the boy’s complete stillness. Was he hurt or perhaps, by all appearances he was dead. But the one of his hands came alive and began to scoop up mud and lay it upon his body in a slow ritualistic motion. The hand scooped up another fill of mud and so both hands were full at work. As the girls caught their breath and tried to still the pounding of their hearts, they watched in awe as the boy smeared his body in mud. When he was finished and not one bit of his pale skin was left uncovered, he let out a scream, the scream of a wild animal about to go on the hunt. Janet was so startled she almost gave away their position but the boy was too preoccupied in his illusion to notice the rustling of the bushes behind him. Soon he was surrounded by his pack, whooping and hollering as they too rolled and smeared their bodies in the mud. To Janet, as certainly it would have been for even the stoutest heart, this was indeed a frightening scene and if not for Zoe holding her firmly in her place she probably would have made a run for it. Even Janet

100

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

probably had her doubts at that moment, but she would never allow fear to get the best of her. Now fully dressed for battle the boys moved from the pit of mud to reassemble among the giant roots of their hanging tree. Tommy Seaford, obviously the leader of the band stood on the flat bit of ground next to where the swinging rope hung limp. He was just about to give the marching orders to the assembled warriors when out of the bright glare of sunlight the two figures approached, the two that would change Bone Bend forever. Joe Stark, who stood just to the left of Tommy, was the first to notice them. At first, he wasn't quite sure what he was seeing. Against the glare of the sun, he even thought for a moment it was his mother and sister approaching, and even though it made no sense to him he still felt that awful feeling through his body, the kind that might come if his mother invaded the bathroom at the wrong moment. Gradually each of the other boys began to notice, by the look on Joe's face, that something must be terribly wrong. One by one they turned to match Joey's stare, and only when Tommy grew annoyed that no one seemed to be paying attention to him did he, himself, take notice of the approaching figures. As much as Zoe wanted to defiantly march in, the best that even she could muster under the circumstances was a hopeful tentativeness. But she needn't worry given the complete state of shock that filled Bone Bend at that moment. Hand in hand Zoe and Janet made their way through the group, deftly climbing the roots until Zoe was eye to eye with Tommy. Her initial anxiety had almost turned to laughter as she looked at him. The wet mud had turned dry and caked, accenting the white of his eyes and his incessant blinking resulting from total confusion and loss of words made

Momentum’s Course

101

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

him look all the more comical. Zoe, however, controlled her impulse to laugh, realizing it might undermine the moment’s full affect. Tommy was so transfixed that when Janet asked, "Can we try?" he couldn't make sense of the words. Here he was looking at Zoe and her lips did not move, but he heard the sound. Was he looking at an aberration, a witch, or what? Janet repeated the question, "Can we try?" This time he had at least recovered enough from the initial shock to make a replay, and of course he relied on that instinctive male reaction when presented with any request. "NO! Can't you read? Sign says, 'PRIVET NO GIRLS ALLOWED'. That means you two!" He nodded to the crude sign at the edge of the swimming hole. Obviously he was beginning to regain his composure and assert his authority. But this was not unexpected by Zoe and she quickly responded with words likely to escalate the confrontation, "Nobody owns this, and you can't stop us!" "Yeah? Wanna bet?" Replied Tommy, as his soldiers closed ranks behind him. But Zoe was not to be intimidated, even if Janet was beginning to show her doubts. "I'll bet you" Zoe replied, only to be greeted by a chorus of laughter from Tommy and the boys that would be enough to shake even the most stout of heartedness. But not Zoe. She waited the right moment for their laughter to subside before taking the quarter out of her pocket and holding it up to catch the glare of the sun. With infuriating disregard for the boys, she slowly twisted it in the sunlight, and when the

102

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

boys had grown almost to the limits of impatience waiting for her next move, she calmly said, "I bet my little sister can grab this quarter out of your hand!" Given the boys laughter, Zoe might as well have said she could throw a football or hit a baseball further, or something equally absurd. Tommy manages to stop laughing long enough to ridicule even the smallest suggestion that such a thing was possible. "A girl? Her? She's a baby! There's no way!". "Baby?" shouted an insulted Janet, now ready to step forward with clenched fists, but Zoe restrained her. "Easy, sis, I guess he's just too chicken to go up against you." Uh oh! Even Janet was surprised. Zoe had used the "C" word, the one word in all the entire universe that was absolutely guaranteed to get any man, and especially any boy to do what they didn't want to. And if that wasn't enough, Zoe offered up five dollars as a bet, the combined total of money the two girls had in the whole wide world between them. What was Tommy to do? You could see the look on the faces of every boy, that unmistakable look of: maybe he really is chicken? With all his foot soldiers looking on it would now be impossible to refuse a challenge after being called "chicken", and walk away from five dollars. Tommy might have appreciated the simple fact that he had nothing really to gain by beating a nine year old and everything to lose if he was beaten. Had he realized he was between the proverbial rock and a hard place he might have given greater effort

Momentum’s Course

103

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

to gracefully avoiding a competition, but the thought of losing was simply not part of any conceivable outcome he could imagine. So, to a hearty round of cheers from his mates, Tommy steps forward to take up the challenge. But Zoe wasn't quite done with him. As Tommy takes up his position facing Janet, Zoe begins to hand her the quarter, but in mid motion pulls back to make a new demand, "When she wins, she gets to challenge you on the rope". Clearly Tommy, anxious to get the dirty business done with already, is approaching the limits of his patients. "There's no way she's gonna win!" "She wins... the rope, unless you're too chicken about that." "Okay, okay. But she ain't gonna win, anyhows!" There are two axioms of battle, any kind of battle. It doesn't make any difference if we're talking about war, sports, business, or the battle of the sexes. When you face an opponent never, and I mean never underestimate the opponents strength. No matter how uneven the battle may seem the best chance you have of loosing is to underestimate the strength of your opponent. History is filled with causes lost because one side was too cocky and let down their guard. No one could say Janet wasn't spirited and willing to take risks, but even she was beginning to have doubts, after all, Tommy was a head taller then her. And what if she did win, might the boys gang up on them. Who knew what vengeance they might reap against her and Zoe as payment for defeat.

104

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Tommy moved to center stage. He showed the confidence of a world champion fighter going into the ring against a third rated challenger. In fact, outwardly, he looked annoyed at having to even make the effort. But behind his appearance was a touch of fear. As unlikely a prospect as it might be his loosing, the implications on his ego did not go completely unnoticed by his id. And to the trained eye of a keen observer such as Zoe, this was apparent. But Janet had not yet reached this level of observation. She was growing increasingly hesitant. As the boys closed in on the arena, Janet looked for a way out. "This is crazy, Zoe. I can't do this. I'm gonna lose all our money." The boys could sense her fear. "What's a matter, little girl, you chicken. Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck...." But Zoe knew the right touch: firm and supportive. She turns Janet to the side. "Stop worrying. You beat cousin Joey, and he's as old as them. You can beat him! Just watch his eyes, that's all you got'a do. The eyes!" There's no place else to go. Janet turns, still a bit reluctant, but committed, back to face Tommy. She takes a step toward center stage before Zoe calls her back. Zoe takes the step to meet her halfway. "Here's the quarter. It's our lucky piece, so you can't lose. Leader and Janet face off. Other Boys close in around them to watch. Zoe hands Janet the QUARTER.

Momentum’s Course

105

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Now Janet and Tommy are looking eye to eye, determination is clear on both their faces. Whatever hesitation Janet had was now gone - only total concentration on the challenge at hand was on her mind as she hands Tommy the Quarter. For a moment he mocks her with a laugh as if why waste his time with such certain outcome, but the intensity on Janet’s face finally forces his attention. As Tommy readies the quarter in the center of his palm, Janet takes one final look towards Zoe, who gestures with her finger to her eye. Janet acknowledges with a nod before turning to stare at Tommy She stares at him, and he stares back just as intently. After the longest time the two of them are locked eye to eye, with neither one wavering in the least. Then Janet shifts her gaze so ever slightly, but Tommy is still locked on. Again Janet shifts her gaze - towards something just beyond her left, and still Tommy doesn’t move his focus. Now, again Janet looks with eyes one more time to just beyond her left. This time a smile forms on her lips. The kind you make when you’ve already won. This time Tommy shifts his, gaze, not in the direction to follow Janet’s look, but on her lips. And that’s all it takes. At that moment, Janet strikes. Her hand moves in an instant, lashing out to grab the quarter from Tommy’s outstretched palm. But at that same instant Tommy’s hand closes around the Quarter and he pulls it out of reach.

106

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Triumphantly he smiles, but when he opens his palm the quarter is gone, and he and all his troops are mystified as they look around in search of where it might have disappeared to. The concept that Janet might have actually gotten it was still too alien a thought for possibility. Janet relishes the moment with knowing glance to Zoe, before she extends out her hand and holds it open. “Looking for this?” and she flips it expertly to Zoe for her to catch. “What the…” is all a confounded Tommy can utter. But Zoe isn’t finished with him. “Now, about that rope jump. How about we bet a dollar on who jumps farther. Or are you too chicken? An uncertain Janet, not wanting to press her luck, tries to restrain her. But too late! Tommy has no choice but to take the challenge or loss all face among his minions. Tommy is clearly fuming. He knows his whole existence is at stake. “That was lucky. It ain't happenin' again. And when she loses, you two never, ever come back here again! He doesn’t wait for a reply, but with a show of bravado, he grabs the rope and steps back as far as his reach allows. He pauses for just a moment to glance towards Zoe and Janet with a most disdainful look, and then begins with a fierce burst of energy that sends him charging forward until, with a great leap he’s carried on the end of the rope high out over the water until he lets go the Rope to go sailing into the

Momentum’s Course

107

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

air. And with a giant splash he comes back down into the water, landing just short of the raft. You would think by the raucous cheers from the boys that Tommy had just hit a bases loaded homerun in the top of the ninth to win the World Series. In fact, it was a good jump. In fact, it was the jump of a lifetime, maybe even the furthest jump that Bone Bend had ever seen. Tommy rightfully could be proud of what he had done, and as he popped to the surface and pulled himself on to the raft floating nearby, he could rightfully feel proud, and also confident he had one the day. His ego, his honor, his whole existence was now safe. Janet could see it, too. There was absolutely no hope of beating Tommy’s jump of even coming close, for that matter. Why even bother, thought Janet? Why embarrass herself, which was a sentiment clearly shared by the boys as they began a rhythmic chant. “Loo-zer... loo-zer... loo-zer...” The sound of their chant pounded in Janet’s heart, while out on the raft, Tommy stood gloating and triumphant. She turned to look at Zoe, angry with her for putting them in this position. Hopelessly discouraged, Janet turned and began to walk away.

108

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

But Zoe was having none of it. Within a step she caught hold of Janet and pulled her back to face the challenge. For Zoe, win or loose didn’t matter in the least, but not to even try, as hopeless as it may have seemed was not in her music. “There's no way I can beat that,” Janet cried nearly at the edge of tears. “You can! And anyway, at least you'll get to try it out. Now this is what you gotta do...” at which Zoe whispered instructions in Janet's ear and with a pat on the bottom sent Janet down the path away from the rope. What was going on? The boys were mystified and mystery was the soul mate to their anxiety but it did not prevent them from continuing their chant as their eyes followed her every step “Loo-zer... loo-zer... loo-zer...” Ten yards down the path Janet stopped. She took a deep breath before grabbing dirt to rub her hands as if she was about to grab a bat and step up to the plate. She turned around towards the hanging rope and for an eternity contemplated its existence in the hopes of building her courage. The sound of the boy’s chanting faded from her mind. “Now” was all she heard as she began her run toward the rope. Time slowed. All eyes transfixed on Janet as she raced down the path toward the rope, grabbed hold without slowing or a lost step, and continued out over the water carried by an unseen hand.

Momentum’s Course

109

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Against the pale blue sky of the hot August day she let go the rope at perfect apogee and spread her arms, flying off on momentums course... Janet never forgot that day. Years later she had become one of the Air Force’s first female pilots to fly the fabled F-15E Strike Eagle. Whenever she doubted the moment she need only remind herself of the look of awe on Tommy’s face and all the boys as she sailed over him on the raft. Around Bone Bend they still talk about the day a little girl flew without wings. ~

110

Momentum’s Course

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

CV-22 Osprey

111

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

In the Wild Blue it’s a long trip to heaven and a short one to hell. In between is where we find hope so check Your six and prepare yourself well.

112

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

113

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

114

PBY-5 Catalina Flying Boat

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Sopwith 2F.1 Camel

115

THE INFINITY PARADOX

116

Rendering Based on NASA Photo

Shuttle Space Suit and Manned Maneuvering Unit

117

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

THE INFINITY PARADOX

My journey in search of the beginning of time, the story of which I am about to
here give full account has led me to the certain knowledge that every moment that ever was leads to everything that is now and there to everything that will ever be and everything that was. Within everything is everything. As such as things are then so it is that one instant in time, one stroke of a finger, or utterance of a word, or moments act or failure to act can change all eternity from what was, to is, to what will be. Others have looked toward the distant stars and the vastness of space in search of the moment in which the universe we live was created. I turned my attention not to the beginning of the universe but to the beginning of existence. Others reasoned that such a place is so distant that it is beyond all hope of ever seeing or knowing by looking out into the universe toward the beginnings of known time. Instead, I turned my search not to the farthest reaches of time past in the hope of seeing the instant of creation but rather to the nearest place in time and space which I believed ultimately

118

The Infinity Paradox

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

connect to the furthermost reaches of time. In the circle of existence the end of the circle must eventually meet the beginning of the circle. It is there that the largest and oldest thing must come together with the smallest and earliest of things. Where the beginning, the present, the future, and the past are one. This is the place where I call the Infinity Paradox. From my journey in search of where the beginning of existence meets the end of existence, I have passed through a place where life and death are one and the same; were love and hate are one and the same; where to have everything and have nothing are one and the same, where infinitely large and infinitely small are one and the same, and where the beginning of time is also the end time. As I searched out the epicenter of existence along the way I passed the third epoch, that period on Earth more then two billion years ago, as if time mattered, before we even imagined life to exist, our planet, indeed all seven universes of existence that you are yet to know were ruled by such despots and demons as to be beyond our simple levels of comprehension. comparison to what this hell was. What we image hell to be paled in

The Infinity Paradox

119

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Misery and death of the most horrific sort had befallen creatures of every kind and everywhere from one end of the cosmos to the other. The prospect for the future of natural existence of which humankind was but a small and insignificant part, for all time to come was dark and uncertain. In this place the voids of illimitable space had turned to protonic fires, fed by the nucleonic remnants of countless exploding galaxies. Whole star systems were in ruin, and the few planets that remained scattered through the universes upon which life had taken hold were littered with the dead and soon to be dead of every species. Innocent creatures of every kind cried out for mercy, but there was none to be had. It was the bleakest of times imaginable - a time when horrors beyond description were inflicted upon the very existence of life itself as it then was and on the possibility of life for all the future as it might ever be. In the epic battle for the future of existence itself, the few remaining forces scattered through time and space that remained to fight against the darkness stood on the verge of collapse.

120

The Infinity Paradox

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

It can be said of that epoch, without the least exaggeration, that the light of the living spirit contained within what had once been a billion billion manifestations of life was now on the precipice of total and irrevocable extinction. The great circle of existence where the beginning and the end met was about to be broken for all eternity. Life itself, existence itself, the past, the present, and future were on the abyss of extinction. There was, however, near the edge of one of the great voids the 7th Universe. Among its own billions of stars only one planet contained life. And on this planet, the inhabitants, limited by their own inability to go beyond their own universe believed themselves secure and immune from the madness around them even as it was of their making. As such, they allowed themselves to be blind to the darkness that was so clearly visible had they chosen to see, and they stood idly by from the horrors and atrocities that had befallen the rest of existence. They allowed their conscience to be cloaked in simplistic and comfortable slogans, and in truth, by their own primeval fears.

The Infinity Paradox

121

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Begrudgingly at best, and solely through the most determined effort by a steadfast few in violation of the laws of their existence they provided only the smallest oddments of aid to those few scattered through time left to fight. The fight they waged must surely have seemed to be against the Devil’s work, but then, to say it was the work of the devil is to say there is a God. And yet in spite of the evil onslaught and the agony heaped on incalculable multitude of life of every form, belief, religion and faith, a Creator, if there was such, seemed nowhere to be found. Opposing the apathy of this world certain few of their kind in and out of their bodies of rule who believed in their minds, but above all in the center of what was their deepest and most inner spirit, there were no voids of time or distance and no universe big enough or distant enough that could secure or shield their world against those who wielded such evil power and applied it so ruthlessly against the innocent and helpless.

122

The Infinity Paradox

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

And neither could a world and its inhabitants, aspiring for its own freedom, justice and enlightenment long survive surrounded as it were by such desperation and suffering among others no matter who or of what kind or where of they were from. In time, they knew, their world, too, would fall victim to the despots, and the universes would be plunged into dark eons like none before and from which there could be no hope of return. Matter itself would cease to exist and in its place would be an emptiness so complete and vast that nothing again could or would ever come to exist again, and all that had once been would cease to have ever been and all that might be would never come to be. They also knew that such was the state of development by this evil of new and even more horrific means of casting agony and destruction, the likes of which were previously beyond comprehension, that little time was left before the fate of existence itself might be eternally sealed into a coffin of ashes in which all that had been in existence and all that would be yet to come, and all that had ever been would be no more and never be.

The Infinity Paradox

123

So, over the wishes of their own species, and the will of their own dominion, and the laws of their world, and even against what may have seemed morality and honor itself, these people secretly strived to mobilize their world against the impending doom in the only ways they believed possible. In those days, what they did seemed to them so certain of purpose and necessity. But now, when one is inclined to look into the murky waters of time still held at the last recesses of all existences, beneath which are entombed so many lives of so many once living creatures, nothing is quite so clear to those who care to think at all deeply of what happened. As each millennium passes, memories become more faded, except for the memories of some for whom the screams of the dying only grow louder within the deepest of their thoughts. For most of these few survivors time grows short with the inescapable march of age. For them, the circle of existence is near its end. Soon, all who were part of that epoch and that history will be gone and with them so will be lost all recollections,

124

The Infinity Paradox

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

faded and twisted as they already are.

And with their passing might go the last

defenders of existence and with it all existence itself that yet still remained to be. Such was the world I found beyond the edge of our own universe after I had happened through the doorway locked within our minds imagination. In this realm there existed a race of such intelligence that they had long ago mastered inter-universal-time-space travel across a hundred billion light years as if it was no more then a casual noonday stroll across the town square. During a billion years of evolution they had learned to harness power beyond even the power of a thousand or black holes. Their power lay in understanding the infinite void that filled between all space and matter of every kind. They were the master of the dark matter without which there is no light, no life, no time, and no existence. Dark matter was as important to existence as the matter, which we in our ordinary world know. Without darkness there is no light; without cold there is no heat; without down there is no up; and without evil there is no good.

The Infinity Paradox

125

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Once they came to understand existence as being simultaneously both infinitely large and infinitely small they had the key to instantaneous transportation across all time and space and levels of existence. Existence, as they came to know of it, was not measured by linear distance or the sequential passing of time. Existence is not periods in time and places in space, but rather a single moment when all things, and all places, and all events, existed together. When the possible and the impossible existed as one; when the past, the present, and the future exist together in the same moment and place. Where within everything is everything. Their existence was a moment when hope abounded and all things good and noble seemed possible. It was a moment when joy and laughter and love still filled the heart, and when offspring were born to creatures of every kind, and the young dreamed of tomorrow and the old relished joyful memories of yesterday. But fate dealt them an ironic blow. Over the Billion years of their evolution they had developed in such a way as for themselves to be unable to undertake inter-

126

The Infinity Paradox

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

universe transmortations - the movement through time, space, and levels of existence. They had within their power the ability to travel anywhere in existence - past, present, or future - virtually instantaneously yet because of a simple genetic oddity that defied a hundred million years of research and experimentation by the most gifted and evolved minds in all natural existence they remained trapped to the limits of translight travel within the range of their own small galaxy located at the very outer reaches of existence where that which exists comes closest to where nothing exists. It would be the fatal flaw of otherwise good and noble creatures and the irony of their existence that in their quest to reach beyond the limits of their own world and universe they would set in motion such ruin and death upon the vast reaches of all other worlds and universes. Possessed of such power yet denied its use, they set about creating a race of surrogates that could travel on their behalf to the farthest reaches of existence and bring back the stories, artifacts, and images of distant worlds and different times and so allow them to experience what they themselves could never experience directly.

The Infinity Paradox

127

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

As we might send a probe space to transmit back data, they created their own form of probe but far beyond anything we can imagine. The Travelers - as they were called - were neither machine nor nature but possessing something of each and being nothing of either. The Travelers they created were all made from a single seed created in their world and combined with the seeds of the worlds they visited. Little could they envision how the evil they created could arise from something so wonderful and good intentioned as they imagined. This then is the story of the horror they let loose upon the seven universes of existence and upon all life itself. This then is the story of how the children of the past, the present and the future battled for the survival of existence against such horror that was of their own creation. ~

128

The Infinity Paradox

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

F-22 Raptor

129

FLYING MACHINES

130

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

These

portraits of flying machines represent the

beginning of powered controlled manned flight at the start of the 20th Century to the present. This is by no means a comprehensive list but they are among my favorite flying machines of all time. Each one is distinguished by a unique place in the history of flight and its own unique history, design, performance and operation. Taken together, these are the elements that I think of as their personality and what make each one unique and special.

Each

of these flying machines is more then simply a machine – they are an More then anything else they embody the events, dreams and imagination of their times. Invariably, they pushed the limits of Ultimately, each flying what was thought possible in their time.

embodiment of the people who designed, built, maintained, and flew them beyond the bounds of earth.

machine is carried aloft on the dreams and imagination of countless generations of humankind that through the millennium looked to the skies with the hope of one day rising above the earth and touching the sky

Flying Machines

131

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

WRIGHT BROS. 1902 GLIDER was the near final embodiment of the Wright Brothers successful first power flight in 1903 except that it was not powered. What was critical in the 1902 is that it incorporated 3-axis control, which was essential to their eventual success with powered flight. (Photo from National Archives). AT-5 FORD TRIMOTOR was by no means revolutionarily for its day but the all-metal design and the Ford name lent an air of safety and reliability during the 1920’s that helped establish the nascent airline industry. Rapid progress in aviation technology during the period led to it being replaced by more modern designs by the early 30’s but it remains an iconic image of the early days of commercial aviation. PT-17 STEARMAN was one of the primary trainers during WW2. Nearly every pilot during the war learned to fly in the Stearman. The fabric covered, open cockpit biplane evoked the daring days of WWI but its rugged design and mostly forgiving performance made

132

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

it an ideal trainer. forgotten era.

Many Stearman are still flying today and invoke an almost

PBY5 CATALINA is a Flying Boat used as a long-range ocean patrol-bomber that played an instrumental role throughout World War II. Even though it was slow and vulnerable its long range and versatility enabled it to perform many types of critical missions including Bomber, Air-Sea Rescue, Scout, Anti-Submarine, Patrol, Transport, and Night Attack in the guise of the famed "Black Cats". The Catalina first flew in 1935 and by the time of the war many considered it already obsolete. Nevertheless it was the most widely used plane of its type in the war. Among its feats was locating the German Battleship Bismarck, which led to its sinking, and spotting the Japanese fleet at the critical Battle of Midway. Thousands of Airmen and Sailors owe their lives to being rescued at sea by the famed PBY. The Catalina is an enduring testament that it is not how fast or high you fly that matters but how well you do your job that matters most.

Flying Machines

133

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

B-17 FLYING FORTRESS is a widely recognized symbol of WWII that first flew in 1935. This heavily armed long range bomber took on the difficult task of flying deep into German Territory for daylight bombing missions, exposing the planes and crews to relentless anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters. More then any other plane the B-17 represents the sacrifice of tens of thousands of Airmen who died to defeat the Nazis. Dedicated to my cousin, Sherry Klein who was shot down over Germany just two weeks before the end of the war in Europe. C-47 SKYTRAIN is the military version of the civilian DC-3 – affectionately referred to as the Gooney Bird. Original development took place in the early 30’s based on the similar but smaller DC-2. Throughout the 30’s the outstanding performance, reliability, and comfort of the DC-3 was instrumental in developing the civilian air travel industry. During WW2 over ten thousand of the ubiquitous military version C-47’s were built and played an instrumental role as a versatile and rugged troop and cargo transport able to operate under austere and rugged conditions. The Skytrain played an iconic role during the D-Day landing as it carried

134

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

paratroopers behind enemy lines of the Normandy beaches. The C-47 continued to play a significant military role during the Korean and Vietnam War. In addition to its transportation duties in Vietnam, the C-47 helped originate the “gunship” concept of mounting cannons and heavy machine guns out the side of cargo type aircraft and circling over enemy emplacements while firing a withering hail of bullets. P-40 WARHAWK originally conceived in the mid 30’s it was the only relatively modern American fighter in significant quantity at the start of WW2. However, its performance as a fighter was somewhat less then contemporary enemy fighters from either Japan or Germany. Nevertheless, its rugged design and the skilled use of tactics by its pilots made it a formidable weapon especially in the close air support role. It was a workhorse throughout the war and is most widely know by the shark tooth design on its nose made famous by the Flying Tigers. F-4U CORSAIR is probably the best Navy fighter of WWII and among the best of all fighters during the war. Its large radial engine and distinctive gull wing design – to accommodate the

Flying Machines

135

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

large propeller – makes it one of the most distinctive and recognizable planes of the war. Originally conceived as an aircraft carrier based fighter, a number of design challenges delayed such use until the last year of the war where it was primarily deployed in the Pacific theater. However, the Corsair was successfully used by the Marine Corps as a land based plane much earlier. In addition to an outstanding record against enemy planes it was extremely capable in the close air support role. Korean War. B-29 SUPERFORTRESS was the single most expensive weapons program of WW2, exceeding the development of the Atomic Bomb. The Superfortress represented the culmination of bomber development during the war and employed such advanced features as pressurized cabin and remote operated electronically controlled weapons. The performance characteristics such as range, load and speed exceeded its predecessors such as the B-17 Flying Fortress by as much as 30-50%. Operational deployment did not come until late in the war and service was primarily in the Far East where its long range was desperately needed against Japan. The B-29 is notable as The Corsairs excellent capability in this area saw it extensively used throughout the

136

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

the plane that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the war. It continued on after the war in a number of important roles including the militaries first Aerial Tanker fleet. A cargo and airliner version based on modifications to the original design continued to serve long after the war. P-51 MUSTANG is widely considered the best fighter of WWII. Its outstanding performance and exceptional long-range capability dramatically altered the bombing campaign over Germany by providing air cover for the bombers flying deep into enemy territory. It was also used in a similar role in the bombing campaign against Japan. Originally conceived as a fighter plane for the British Air Force, the Mustang’s innovative laminar flow wing (which served as a basis for future jet powered aircraft) and an advance cooling system that acted like a jet boost gave it exceptional low altitude performance. However, performance quickly dropped off above 15,000 feet making it unsuitable as a fighter and it was largely relegated to the close air support and reconnaissance role. Several years of further development, most notably a switch to the British designed Merlin engine with improved supercharger made it into the

Flying Machines

137

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

definitive fighter of WWII. The P-51 continued to serve during the Korean War and remained in service with the Air Force in various capacities into the early 60’s. P-59 AIRACOMET was the first Air Force’s jet powered fighter. Developed during WW2 it became operational too late in the war to see actual combat. With the limited capability of jet engines at the time and an overall design based on piston-powered aircraft, the Airacomet’s performance was only nominally improved over the front line fighters of the day. However, during its brief and limited career, the P59 made an important contribution to gaining experience and developing performance and operational requirements for the coming jet age. L-1049 SUPER CONSTELLATION was the last of the great piston powered aircraft before jet engines came to dominate commercial travel. Exquisitely sleek sweeping shape of the fuselage seemed to encapsulate the future promise of air travel while the tripletail stabilizers seem a throwback to an earlier age of flight. The

138

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

Constellations high speed of over 300 knots and pressurized cabin made it a mainstay of civilian airliners throughout the post WW2 era. F-86 SABRE was developed at the end of WW2 and became the Air Force’s first operational swept wing fighter. It was also notable for having a fully movable tail surface. During the Korean war its outstanding performance and the superior airmanship of the pilots helped the Sabrejet dominate the skies against the comparable Mig-15. The F-86 has become an iconic image of the air war in Korea and among the most beautifully designed planes of all time. F-102 DELTA DAGGER is among the first operational planes to use a pure delta wing design as well as the “area ruled fuselage” (a pinched section of fuselage that reduces drag and is now common to many modern aircraft). Designed as a pure interceptor against Russian bombers during the cold war 50’s, the Dagger – more commonly referred to as the “Deuce” – was among a handful of second generation jet powered fighter aircraft that dramatically pushed the performance

139 Flying Machines

139

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

envelope beyond Mach 1 and above 50,000 feet. The “Century” series, as they were referred to, helped set the stage for many of the current generation of aircraft. The F102 was slow to meet its original design goals but after a number of modifications including some major modifications that led to a re-designation as the similarly appearing F-106 Delta Dart it became the mainstay of Air Force’s interceptor fleet up until the 1980’s. X-15 NORTH AMERICAN ROCKET PLANE helped lead the way in modern high performance aircraft. Designed in the late 50’s the X-15 has flown higher and faster then any other winged aircraft. It pushed the boundaries of human flight and laid the groundwork for today’s most modern aircraft. BOEING 707 was not the first commercial jet powered aircraft but became the most successful during and helped transform commercial aviation from the age of pistons to the jet engine. Based on a design for a military’s KC-135 aerial tanker (which is still in service after 50 years) the 707 went on to dominate

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

commercial aviation during the 50’s and 60’s. With ocean crossing range and speeds twice as fast as competing piston powered aircraft the 707 helped to connect the world and transform travel. SR-71 BLACKBIRD is among the most extraordinary aircraft of all time. Designed in the mid sixties it still retains the record for the highest speed jet powered aircraft in the world. Developed in great secrecy and originally conceived as an interceptor against Russian bombers it was transformed into a high altitude highspeed reconnaissance aircraft. Able to cruise at 80,000 feet and 2,000 miles an hour the Blackbird was covered huge areas of land with its high-resolution cameras well above the range of anti-aircraft missiles. timeless essence of high-speed flight. MH-53 PAVE LOW represents one of countless varieties of vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The helicopter with its remarkable vertical take-off and landing capability has proven extraordinarily useful in a wide range of military and civilian Its sleek innovative design captures the

Flying Machines

141

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

applications. Leonardo da Vinci envisioned the concept of the helicopter in the 14th century, and in a very real sense the helicopter embodies the ultimate notion of human flight with its ability to hover, vertical movement, and move n any direction. The MH-53 PAVE LOW is a variation on a medium lift helicopter used in a variety of special operations and rescue roles. C-130 HERCULES is one of the most widely used and capably military transport planes in history. With its exceptional ability to operate from unprepared runways the Hercules has served in a wide variety of roles including cargo, troop carrier, air-sea rescue, tanker, close air support weapons platform, special purpose bomber, electronic warfare, special operations, and weather. First introduced in 1954 and having served in virtually every major military operation and humanitarian relief program, the C-130 continues in active production as a major part of the military’s airlift capability. F-14 TOMCAT was introduced in 1974 and made popular movie, “Top Gum”. This high performance Navy fighter was designed to

142

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

protect the fleet from air attack. It carries 6 large Phoenix Missiles able to lock on and destroy multiple enemy targets at long simultaneously. The distinctive swing-wing Prior to its design gives the Tomcat exceptional high-speed and long range. used in the interdiction role. A-10 THUNDERBOLT II is a rugged aircraft designed primarily for close air support of ground forces. With an inline 30 mm cannon firing uranium-depleted shells the Thunderbolt has the ability to blow holes through tanks like a knife through butter. While slower then most modern jet fighters the A-10 is highly maneuverable and capable of withstanding tremendous damage while delivering fearsome firepower. F-16 FALCON is a lightweight high performance fighter aircraft first introduced 1978 and remains one of mainstays of the Air Force’s front line fighters. This remarkably maneuverable and versatile fighter has proven effective as both a bomber and fighter. Many innovative features, such as fly by wire, side mounted control stick, frameless bubble canopy for

retirement in 2006 the F-14 had been equipped with bomb carrying capability and

Flying Machines

143

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

better visibility, reclined pilots seat for higher “G” tolerance have made it one of the most outstanding fighter planes of all times. F-15E STRIKE EAGLE is arguably the most potent single aircraft weapon system in the world today. Based on the original design of the exceptional F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter, the Strike Eagle has been heavily modified with conformal fuel tanks, state of the art radar, navigation and weapons control systems to carry a wide range of offensive and defensive weapons over a long range at high speed. The Strike Eagle’s ability to deliver large weapon loads that include nuclear, conventional, and precision guided munitions while retaining its formidable air to air combat capability makes it unmatched in its versatility and capability. SPACE SHUTTLE, OFFICIALLY TERMED THE “SPACE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM” (STS) epitomizes the dream of flight transformed into the reality of flight. The Shuttle is designed to blast off into earth orbit like a rocket ship and return to earth to land like and airplane. Since its first flight in 1981 the Shuttle has had over 120 flights and despite the Challenger and Columbia tragedies has altered our view of space

144

Flying Machines 144

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

travel into almost a routine event, some would even say that humankind has even turned blaze or indifferent toward what is arguably one of the greatest human achievements. This remarkable flying machine, which is said to be the most complex single machine ever devised has not only transformed how we think about space travel, but its essential role in building the International Space Station and lifting and performing multiple upgrades on the Hubble Space Telescope has transformed our knowledge of the universe and humankinds presence in space. (Illustration based on digital rendering of a NASA Photo.) A-4 SKYHAWK is one of those remarkable planes made

remarkable by its simplicity. Relatively small for its day but highly maneuverable, this conventional delta wing design was versatile, durable, and easy to maintain. From its first deployment with the Navy in 1955 up to its retirement in 2003 the Skyhawk served in a variety of attack roles, trainer, and the Blue Angels Demonstration team. Its most notable service was in Vietnam as a light bomber and close air support aircraft.

Flying Machines

145

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

YB-49 NORTON FLYING WING first flew in 1946.

Its unique

design based on a pure flying wing with no fuselage offered great promise but ultimately exceeded the ability of available technology to overcome the challenges. The promise of the flying wing was eventually realized decades later when modern computers and “fly-by-wire” control made the B-2 long-range bomber a reality with the added benefit of near invisibility to radar. The YB-49 will always be remembered as a visionary aircraft and one of the most beautiful flying machines ever to take to the sky. B-52 STRATOFORTRESS was born out of the Cold War as a longrange strategic nuclear bomber. More then 50 years later this remarkable plane is still a major part of the Air Force’s strategic force and is expected to continue in active service for the next 30 years. The planes long range and huge weapons carrying capacity that includes nuclear, guided, and conventional weapons makes it a valuable asset during both conventional and modern asymmetrical warfare.

146

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

CV-22 OSPREY represents the combining of the best features of a helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft. Its unique ability to land and take off like a helicopter and then tilt its wings and rotors forward to fly forward gives it unmatched speed, range, and operational flexibility. After years of development the Osprey finally became operational in 2005 and is quickly entering service with the Air Force, Navy and Marines. F-22 RAPTOR is the culmination of the flying machine into the ultimate weapon. Its state of the art design gives it unmatched performance and maneuverability combined with near invisibility to enemy radar. In an age of modern weaponry the ability to see the enemy before the enemy can se you is the essential ingredient to victory. SOPWITH 2F.1 CAMEL was one of the most successful and iconic planes of WWI. Significant advancements in aviation technology quickly

Flying Machines

147

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

transformed the airplane developed less then 15 years before by the Wright Bros. into the essential weapon of war that has continued to this day. NASA (MMU). SPACESUIT AND MANNED MANEUVERING UNIT

The combination of a Spacesuit and rocket powered Various

backpack unit enable astronauts to move around in space completely free and un-tethered from their spacecraft. kinds of such individual maneuvering units have been used throughout the space program and probably represent the greatest sense of oneness flying through space that humankind has ever experienced. (Illustration based on digital rendering of a NASA Photo.) THE SEAGULL. Why the Seagull? The numerous and wide ranging Seagull is a particularly intelligent bird with excellent flying qualities and graceful movements, including the ability to practically hover in place. It is equally at home on land or in the water and they can be regularly observed to almost float on the sea breezes near the shore with minimal movement of their wings, thus making them an ideal subject of study. Very likely the Seagull was one of the birds closely

148

Flying Machines

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

examined by the Wright Bros. and other pioneers of flight in their study of.

Quite

possibly the Seagull might have been a bird that helped inspire the dream of flight by the earliest of humankind. Whatever birds might have been the first inspiration for human flight it is unquestionable that birds were the inspiration.

~

149

WILD BLUE
(An Original Story and Screenplay) by Zeffrin Bright

MDA PRODUCTIONS COPYRIGHT 2009 Zeffrin Bright WGA Registered

IN 1993 THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS ESTABLISHED A POLICY AUTHORIZING WOMEN TO FLY MILITARY AIRCRAFT IN COMBAT.

151

Get Out of My Way of Die.

152

WILD BLUE EXT. SNOW COVERED MOUNTAIN VALLEY - DAY Two F-15E Strike Eagles flying in tight formation BLAST INTO FRAME on the deck. Planes ROAR through valley at 500 knots. PAN both planes through SERIES OF ANGLES highlighting awesome power and dark beauty of the deadliest tactical combat aircraft in the world. SOUND of BREATHING THROUGH OXYGEN MASK slowly FADES IN with a quickening pace and deepening breathe. THROUGH Canopy of Lead F-15E, pilot, Major PETE BOWMAN and Lt. BILL "SNAKE" TABOR in the back seat as Weapons Systems Officer (Wizzo). They're both hard at work operating controls. In the other F-15E is Captain TONY "ROCKO" RICKOLETTE, with Captain STU "MERLIN" TURNER as Wizzo. SNAKE Three minutes to target.

1

BOWMAN Roger that! Suddenly: BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP... INSERT - WIZZO INSTRUMENTS, FLASHING RED LIGHT, RADAR. BACK TO SCENE SNAKE Three bogeys, make it four bogeys at 10,000. They have us on radar. I got it! BOWMAN Let's take 'em out.

ROCKO Got your six! Throttles pushed to full afterburner. Exhaust flames shooting out in jolt of power. Stick back hard. The valley falls away as planes climb into the Sun.

2

EXT. FLIGHT OF HORNET CF-18's INTERCEPTORS - DAY ESTABLISH four planes flying in formation at altitude. INT. HORNET CF-18 - DAY ANGLE on PILOT. CLOSER ON RADAR. Two BLIPS on screen.

EXT. FLIGHT OF HORNET CF-18's - DAY Two of the four Hornets peel off. INTERCUT - F-15E'S and Hornets converging. INT. FLIGHT LEAD, F-15E - DAY SNAKE Range 15 clicks. BOWMAN FIRE! Air-to-Air missile of F-15E ignites, then streaks off. I have lock!

3

SNAKE Bandits have us locked. INTERCUT HORNETS FIRING MISSILES.

SNAKE They've fired missiles! Range 10... Range 5... Flares out. Break right, break right! ANGLE ON stick. Turn hard right. from rear of both planes EXT. FLIGHT OF TWO F-15E'S - DAY Flight Leader banks hard right, Wingman hard left. I'm hit! ROCKO (V.O.) I'm hit! Stream of Flares ejected

INT. FLIGHT LEADER F-15E - DAY Snake looks over shoulder to see Wingman heading down, SMOKE trailing, then turns back to his own problems. Bright GLOW on Wizzo's Scope indicates hit on Bogeys.

4

SNAKE We got two of them, but two more are hanging back and they're paintin' us with radar. BOWMAN Forget'em. Go active on ECM. back on the target. Snake flips controls. EXT. LEAD F-15E - DAY F-15E banks hard. Heads down into mountain valley. Let's get

CRT Displays light up.

F-15E maneuvers through the valley until it breaks into open plateau. Then it's full afterburner and flat out on the deck. EXT. TARGET ZONE - DAY ESTABLISH Grouping of BUNKERS and VEHICLES. SERIES OF SHOTS as the F-15E approaches Target Zone; releases bombs; EXPLOSIONS.

5

F-15E peels off into distance and up to altitude. Wingman joins up in formation, then the four Hornets. INTERCUT - BOWMAN/LEAD HORNET PILOT. LEAD HORNET PILOT You guys are gettin' sloppy. it was only an exercise. Lucky for you

BOWMAN No! Lucky for you we got orders not to let our Canadian friends lose all the time. LEAD HORNET PILOT Lucky, nothin'! And you still owe us a round of beers. BOWMAN Double or nothin' on the next training. 'Till then, last one home is a pregnant moose! Bowman goes full throttle and breaks hard right out of a 360 barrel roll, with Rocko right behind. Hornets are left eating smoke.

6

EXT. ROAD TO MILLER FALLS AFB, ALASKA - DAY Captain JANET WADE, USAF, 28, attractive, but very professional looking, is cruising in top down CORVETTE. Her hair blows in the breeze. Aviation style sunglasses cover her eyes. On her SUMMER BLUES are pilot's wings and a double row of ribbons. EXT. SECURITY POST, ENTRANCE, MILLER FALLS AFB - DAY Wade approaches SENTRY. Takes salute - continues on.

A Flight of F-15E's pass overhead. She follows them with admiring eyes as they bank into final approach. INT. BRIEFING ROOM - 102nd FIGHTER SQUADRON - MILLER FALLS AFB, ALASKA - DAY Bowman leads jovial FLIGHT CREWS into room. He's demonstrating maneuver with animated hand movements. Wade sits on the far side. Men take their seats. She's gradually noticed as the

7

MUSKRAT Hey, Major, who's the babe? Bowman pauses in the middle of his contorted hand demonstration to look towards Wade. He notices her for the first time. He gives his charming smile – returned with a seen it before cool. BOWMAN Well, if she's not the morale officer, she ought to be. Enter: Colonel WILTON GRAY, Squadron Commander, LT. COL. TOM "WILDCAT" JOHNSON, Squadron Exec., and Sergeant JOHN PETERS, Squadron Clerk. PETERS Ten Hut! Assembled squadron straightens up, but Bowman keeps eyeing Wade to her mild annoyance. GRAY Gentlemen, give thanks your training flights were not actual combat 'cause Sadam Hussein would be laughing in his Hush Puppies!

8

LAUGHTER from the Group. GRAY (continued; very stern) Its funny, Rocko, being shot down? And you Bowman, its funny losing your Wingman? Men squirm uncomfortably. GRAY (continued) I expect better! If you can't do better, then go fly a buff. Do I make myself clear? He looks sternly around the room, finally turning to Wade and nodding for her to rise. She stands uncomfortably at the front of the room. GRAY (continued) All right, we have a new officer in the squadron -Captain Wade. She's an academy graduate and a top instructor at basic flight school. In addition to her flying duties, Captain Wade will be the new morale officer.

9

BOWMAN (sotto) I told you, "Morale". SWEAT HOG It's about time I didn't have to do that chicken-shit stuff. GRAY That's enough. Sweat Hog will take safety and Rocko training. SNICKERING from the rest of the crews. GRAY (continued) Rocko, you'll take Captain Wade up. you'll fly Wizzo.

Rob,

REACTION on Bowman: his smile turns to dismay. Captain ROBERT "ROB" KLEIN suddenly comes alert from reading a Zane Gray Novel. All are confounded. Wizzo? ROB For who?

10

GRAY Put away the book and pay attention. ROCKO Colonel, I'm a little confused. GRAY Why doesn't that surprise me? ROCKO You want me to take her up? You mean you want me to give a check ride in the back seat? Wade is irritated, the rest are genuinely confused. GRAY I'll make this very simple! Captain Wade is assigned as a pilot. I expect her to be treated as such. ROCKO You want me to fly in formation with - with her in a Swamp Eagle? Everyone else in equal disbelief, especially Bowman.

11

GRAY Now you got it. And people said you're a slow learner. Gentlemen, that will be all. Until 0:500. PETERS Ten-hut! They all rise. Gray hurries out with Wildcat. The rest follow in disbelief. Bowman gives Wade a disapproving look as she's left standing alone. INT. OFFICER'S CLUB - NIGHT Bowman, Rocko, Rob, good-natured Captain JAKE ROGERS, and other crewmen are standing at the bar. ROCKO So how come I have to teach nursery school? ROB What are you complaining about? I have to fly back seat with her. MUSKRAT Maybe you can have some wet dreams.

12

JAKE What's the big deal? She's an experienced instructor. And I hear she did well at conversion training. ROCKO Teachin' wet-noses touch-and-go don't mean shit. There's no way I'm goin' up with her! Bowman comes back from deep in his own thoughts. BOWMAN Colonel told you to give her a check ride. Give a check ride. What!!? ROCKO

BOWMAN Show her what the beast can do. ROCKO Ahhh, show her what it can do everything. I'll show her

13

EXT.

FLIGHT LINE - EARLY MORNING

Wade, Rob, Rocko, and Merlin walk out to F-15E's being prepared for flight. The planes are fully loaded with weapons. GROUND CREW looks on with curiosity. ROCKO (to Wade) We'll keep it real easy. Out to the range, a little flyby, then back to the barn. Nothin' fancy. No problem. WADE

Rocko, Rob, and Merlin exchange knowing looks as they all go into their routine walk-around inspection. CREW CHIEF Fully loaded with dead lead, as requested, Sir. ROCKO Thanks, Chief. We'll let the babe gets the full feel of it. From behind Wade, Rocko makes a "jerk-off" gesture.

14

ON Wade's rear as she bends down examining munitions on her walk around. Men exchange wolfish grins. ROCKO Don't worry about them going off. They're only practice bombs. WADE I wasn't worried. When Wade turns back to her inspection, Rocko does a mocking mimic of her. Inspection completed. Flight Crews mount up in respective planes. Ground Crews ready for take off. INT. WADE's F-15E - DAY Wade examines instruments with awed satisfaction. She glances at Rob in rearview, then adjusts mirrors and quickly puts on bright red lipstick. INTERCUT - Rocko in his plane gives disapproving look.

15

ROCKO (to Merlin) Look at the babe! She has to put on her face before she can go out. MERLIN Bet she don't even know how to turn it on. ROCKO I know how she can turn me on. (into mask) Hey, Wade, the starter is that red switch on the left. Wade looks at it: it's the "weapons selector switch". She snickers, then quickly flips through start up routine like clockwork - she knows what she's doing. Canopies down; engines start; equipment rolled back. ROCKO Red Dog Leader to Miller Falls tower, ready for departure.

16

INT. CONTROL TOWER - MILLER FALLS AFB, ALASKA - DAY Controllers peer out over runway. CONTROLLER (into mike) Roger, Red Dog Leader. 27.

Cleared to Taxi on

WADE (V.O.) Red Dog One, ready for taxi. CONTROLLER (into mike) Roger, Red Dog One. Cleared to follow Leader on 27. (to other controller) If God wanted women to fly fighters, he'd have built them with curtains. A female controller CHUCKLES along with them. INT. F-15E - DAY Pilots advance throttle; give military salute to Ground Crew. Rocko taxies out followed by Wade.

17

INTERCUT - EXT. F-15E's moving out to taxi-way, giving onlookers a wave by raising AIR-BRAKE up and down. Bowman stands near the hangar and looks on with disdain. At start of Runway, throttles pushed forward. EXHAUST FLAMES shoot out from engines like a blow-torch. Planes begin rollout. REACTION ON Wade smiling ear to ear (the kid has the keys to the candy store) as the two planes race down the runway building speed. They lift off in tandem, wheels up, forty five degree climb, the ground disappears behind them and they bank north. EXT. MOUNTAIN RANGE - DAY Two F-15E's flying in formation at cruising altitude. ROCKO Red Dog One to Red Dog Two, there's the range. Follow me on a flyby. WADE Roger that.

18

FOLLOW as Rocko peels in.

Wade follows.

ROCKO I'll pull out left, you take right. Join up at 20,000. Remember, the beast is a little sluggish pulling out with all this iron. Copy that. WADE

Rocko does low level flyby of target zone and peels out to the South. Wade follows and peels out North. Back at altitude, she looks around, but no Rocko. WADE You see him anywhere? Rob is busy reading a book. ROB No, I don't see anything. Wade sees in rearview he's not even looking. Lock ALARM goes off. Suddenly, Radar

19

ROB (continued) Someone has us on radar-lock. Wade is momentarily confused, but then goes to work. No shit! WADE

Rocko pulls in behind and gets them in his HUD SIGHT. ROB Looks like an airplane on us. WADE That’s no plane, Einstein, that’s a pigeon. Wade banks hard and goes full military throttle, then kicks afterburner. Rob is caught by surprise. Rocko loses gun lock but hangs with her through ever more tortured maneuvers. Wade can't quite shake him, but neither can he get a weapons-lock.

20

ROCKO (sotto) Come on, give me a lock... Almost there. little more... Little more... Almost... There!

A

Just as he thinks he's got it, Wade pulls back on the throttles and does a fast roll towards target area that sends Rob bug-eyed and loses Rocko his chance. Damn bitch! ROCKO

He hangs with her, though, bearing down hard on her tail as the earth races up. ROCKO (continued) Now where you gonna go? Rob is getting genuinely panicked. ROB You crazy? Pull up!

21

MERLIN (to Rocko) She's gonna crash it! At the last instant, Wade drops her load of practice bombs over the target zone and goes full burner. ROCKO What the... Her lightened plane pulls up faster and out-turns Rocko and she's on his tail. WADE We played Hide-and-Seek. the-Leader. Let's try Follow-

Despite Rocko's struggles, Wade keeps closing until he's in her sights. Merlin frantically looks behind. MERLIN Shake her! Come on, shake her! She's gonna burn us, come on! Rob is stunned as he realizes Wade is about to win.

22

He bumps his FLIGHT CONTROL STICK just enough to throw Wade off and for Rocko to break away, but was it on purpose or an accident? WADE What the hell! Rob avoids her glance at him in the rearview. Rocko and Merlin are relieved to get away. ROCKO Okay, Wade, we let you have some fun. to go powder your nose. Why? WADE You wanna borrow my blush? Time

ROCKO We'll do this again, real soon! Now form up. Wade pulls into Wingman slot and the two planes bank for home. Wade does a triumphant JIGGLE of her wings. She gives Rob an angry glare in the rearview.

23

INT. SQUADRON EQUIPMENT ROOM - DAY Crews stow their flight gear and leave until only Wade and Rob are left. Wade looks around to see the room is empty before approaching Rob. WADE That was damn stupid hitting the stick like that! ROB You're dreamin'! Don’t blame me if you can’t fly the beast. Rob turns away, but Wade gets back in his face. WADE You fuck with me again and I'll have your bars! Either do the job or get out of my back seat! Rob glares at her, brushes her aside and storms out. Wade slams a metal locker in frustration.

24

INT. BACHELOR OFFICER QUARTERS - DAY Wade walks down hallway to her room. her gear and collapses onto the bed. Inside, she throws down

MAJ. BARBARA GENWAY comes to the doorway and knocks. GENWAY Captain Wade? Wade notices her higher rank and stands up. Yes, Ma'am? WADE

GENWAY Relax. I'm your neighbor, Barbara Genway. Got some of your mail. Genway hands over the mail. WADE Thank you, Major.

25

GENWAY "Barbara" will do fine around here. So you're the new Swamp Driver I hear talk about? WADE Talking about? GENWAY Now, really. A woman fighter pilot. flying the hottest plane goin'. And

WADE There are others, and the Navy's got women driving Tomcats and Hornets. GENWAY But, you're the first one here, and the only one here. WADE Maybe when a guy gets pregnant, that'll be worth talking about. GENWAY Cute, but just the same, you’re smart enough to know people are curious.

26

Wade gives a false laugh. WADE That's what I needed: pressure. GENWAY You'll handle it. WADE Yeah, what makes you so sure? GENWAY I'm Flight Surgeon. What pilots can handle, is my business. Or am I wrong about you? EXT. BASE PERIMETER ROAD - DAY Flight of F-15C's passes low overhead. Wade is jogging with earphones on. She's obviously been at it for a while, when Bowman jogs alongside. Wade acknowledges him with a nonchalant glance. a little more

27

BOWMAN So what brings you to Alaska? Wade removes headset and gives him a questioning look. BOWMAN I said, what are you doing here? WADE Umm, looking for reindeer? They both look up with admiration while pair of F-15C's pass low overhead, drowning them out. BOWMAN You're not really serious 'bout drivin' a Swamp Eagle? Wade tells him he's wrong just by her look. BOWMAN (continued) Heard you did okay against Rocko. Okay? WADE

28

BOWMAN Look, I'm tryin' to be polite about this. You may think you're good, but with the missions we fly, bein' good ain't good enough. WADE Tell that to your friend. BOWMAN In the Gulf, we lost two planes. Last month, one flew into a mountain on routine training. He smacks his hands together for emphasis. WADE Does that worry you? are hiring. I hear the airlines

BOWMAN You think it's a game, the big "A" ticket ride? Well, it ain’t. And I'm not letting you put me or anyone else at risk. Screw up, and I'll be right there watching.

29

He glares at her, then picks up the pace. Wade matches him at first, then falls back with exhaustion until forced to give it up, and angry with herself. INT. EQUIPMENT ROOM - DAY Jovial flight crews are stowing gear after training missions. Sgt. Peters, Squadron Clerk, comes in. PETERS Captain Wade. WADE Yes, Sergeant? PETERS Colonel wants to see you. Wade stows last of her gear and follows Peters out. Rocko comes from nowhere to force her chest to chest as they both try to pass through doorway. Jake, just outside Equipment Room, takes it all in.

30

ROCKO Nice peaks. How 'bout a flyby through the valley? WADE (shoves him away) Why look if you're never touching? Chorus of CATCALLS from others as Wade heads down hall with Peters. Jake enters and goes to his rack. JAKE Isn't it time you guys lighten it? MERLIN Hey, Jakey boy, stickin' up for her so you can stick it in? JAKE Hey, I'm the one happily married -- you're the one who hasn't gotten laid since last deployment. Round of HOOTS from other crewmen.

31

JAKE (continued) She's here, so live with it. MERLIN If she's so hot, you fly with her. JAKE Can't be any worse than Rocko. Rocko lunges towards Jake, but is stopped by Bowman. ROCKO You son-of-a-bitch! ground anytime. I'll fly you into the

BOWMAN Settle down! She's not gettin' any worse than any new guy, and if she can't handle a little fun, how she gonna handle the real thing? INT. GRAY'S OFFICE - DAY Gray sits at his desk viewing Wade's "Gun Camera Footage" on a monitor. Wade stands at attention.

32

At ease.

GRAY Some nice flying.

WADE Thank you, Sir. GRAY Too bad you almost ran yourself into the ground for a joy ride. WADE I can explain that. GRAY No! I'll explain! You I can replace; Fifty million dollar planes, I can't! WADE Sir, Rocko was... GRAY Our job is to train near the edge. it. WADE I was only... Not over

33

A look from Gray tells her to shut up. WADE (continued) Yes, Sir. GRAY My wife is organizing a squadron gettogether. I want you to give her a hand. WADE I beg your pardon? GRAY You are the Morale Officer? WADE I've been meaning to talk to you about that. I'm a pilot, not a social worker. I object to being assigned this because I'm a woman. GRAY You think you were assigned it because you're a woman? Again, Gray gives her a look that says: don't reply.

34

GRAY (continued) The well being of the squadron is essential to our readiness. Every new pilot is assigned this duty. Its how we get to know each other. Got it? WADE Yes, Sir, I got it. Wade does an about-face and leaves just as Wildcat comes to the door. Gray gives him a deep sigh of concern and frustration. INT. EQUIPMENT ROOM - DAY Crews prepare for day's flying. Wade opens her locker and is surprised to see box of TAMPAX. She pulls out FLIGHT GLOVES and finds middle finger is stuffed with a TAMPAX in obscene gesture. Wade looks around and sees everyone trying to hold back their laughter. Rocko can't quite control it and hides around corner as he breaks into hysterics.

35

Wade restrains her anger, forces a smile, then makes a counter strike as she walks towards the door. WADE (holding up Tampax) Thanks, everyone, it is that time, and, boy, I'll tell you, PMS can get to you. You know -- Puny Men's Syndrome. Here Rocko, it’s about your size. Wade stuffs the Tampax down his shirt. WADE (continued) So who wants to fly with me? all have PMS?

Or maybe you

Wade gives them a disapproving look. Finally, Jake is about to step forward, but Bowman beats him to it. BOWMAN I'll fly with you. Everyone caught by surprise, especially Wade. a cold look. She gives him

36

BOWMAN (continued) Naturally, you'll fly wingman. EXT. F-15E - SUNRISE Flight of four armed F-15E's cruising at altitude. Bowman is in the lead, Wade in his Wingman position, Jake in number three, and Rocko number four. INTERCUT - INT. F-15E BOWMAN Wade, you're too loose. tight, now bring it in. I want it real

Wade maneuvers her plane to within a foot of Bowman. WADE This tight enough? Snake (Bowman's Wizzo) and Rob nervously squirm in their seats at the closeness of the two planes.

37

BOWMAN So she wants to be a cowboy? (into radio) Blue leader to Blue Flight: Jake, you and Rocko approach target from 0-7-5. Wade and I will come in from 1-5-0. JAKE Roger that, Blue Leader. (to his Wizzo) I think Bowman wants to play a little footsie with her. BOWMAN You ready, Wade? WADE On your six. BOWMAN People, let's burn some rubber. Bowman peels off with Wade close behind him. peel off in the opposite direction. Jake and Rocko

38

Flying at nerve shattering speeds and tree top levels, Bowman leads Wade on a roller coaster ride through mountain valleys, river canyons, and open tundra. Wade tends to lag on the straight-aways. BOWMAN Come on, can't you keep up? Wade is drawing on all her concentration to stay with him, but still maintains her bravado. WADE Stop braking on turns and I won't have to worry running into you. BOWMAN (to Snake) The cowgirl wants more speed. Bowman pushes throttles to full military and begins pulling away. They break out over open ocean and as Bowman weaves through a field of towering icebergs, he widens his lead, despite Wade's best efforts. REACTIONS on Rob and Snake. All they can do is hold on for dear life. Rob crosses his fingers.

39

JAKE (V.O.) "B" Flight to flight leader. minutes to target.

We are two

BOWMAN Roger "B" Flight, we're coming in right behind you. Wade is a good half mile back from Bowman. BOWMAN (continued) Would you like to join us, Wade? REACTION on frustrated Wade. EXT. TARGET TOW SHIP - DAY ESTABLISH Navy ship towing a target. binoculars. Crew search skies with

RADAR OPERATOR (V.O.) (over loudspeaker) Radar to Bridge. Four planes bearing 0-3-7, range twenty, speed 500 K.

40

Crewmen focus their search on bearing 0-3-7. CREWMAN (into handset) Bridge, Aye. EXT. F-15E FLIGHT - DAY Planes skimming just above waves. Approaching target.

INTERCUT - WIZZO'S BLIPPING RADAR SCREEN. MERLIN (WIZZO) Target in ten seconds. EXT. TARGET TOW SHIP - DAY Spotter peers at target through binoculars. by one, drop bombs and race into distance. Planes pass one

SPOTTER #1... short 25 yards... #2... long 75 yards... #3... long 50 yards...

41

CAPTAIN Damn Air Force couldn't find a battleship in a swimming pool. Wade's F-15E approaches. target, blowing it away. Drops dummy bomb directly on

SPOTTER #4... Sir... #4 just blew away the target. INTERCUT - INT. F-15E. acknowledgement. Rob gives Wade a begrudging nod of

Instead of flying off, Wade goes full afterburner and heads nearly straight up and into a 360 loop. Rob is caught by surprise at the High-G maneuver. Ohhh, shit! Ohhh, yes! At bottom of loop they come out right on target ROB WADE

42

Wade flips the safety on the 20mm and fires away. target ripped to shreds.

Remnants of

Hard banking turn takes them into fast flyby of Tow Ship with Rob and Wade grinning ear to ear. BOWMAN (V.O.) Join up, Wade, get your tail up here now! WADE On our way. BOWMAN (V.O.) I'll see you on the ground! EXT. FLIGHT LINE - DAY F-15E's pulling up at ramp area. Bowman angrily gets out of his plane and heads toward Wade's plane. He gets there just as she and Rob come down the ladder. BOWMAN You really think you're shit hot with a 9g loop, but that grand standing is a death warrant!

43

WADE What's 'a matter? competition?

Can't take a little even

BOWMAN What's the matter is you exceeded training limits. You had no altitude if you went into G-lock. And in the real world, you'd have a stinger missile up your ass. WADE But I handled... BOWMAN No buts! With brains like that, I gotta wonder how you ever made it as an instructor. You fly as part of a team. You fly the mission. You copy me -- Captain? WADE (reluctantly) Loud and clear, Major! Bowman storms off.

44

WADE (continued; sotto) Colonel's gonna kill me when he hears about this. Rob walks over to Wade. ROB He's just pissed 'cause you blew away the target, AND he couldn't shake you on the run. WADE Not shake us? We were suckin' fumes. ROB He's got upgraded engines. ‘ave stayed any closer. No way you could

WADE Son-of-a-bitch. But he's right about putting a sign on our back: "Shoot Me". ROB Trust me. I'd throw so much counters they wouldn't know what to shoot at.

45

Trust you?

WADE

ROB (catching himself) Even if you screw up, I got my own reputation to think about. Wade gives a probing look, trying to gauge motives. INT. TECH LIBRARY, 102nd FIGHTER SQUADRON - NIGHT Small room filled with stacks of Books. desk intently reading and taking notes. Wade sits at the

Jake passes in the corridor lugging his flight gear, then returns, curious what she's doing. JAKE Trying for brownie points? Studying. WADE

Jake moves to the desk and sits himself on the end.

46

JAKE Anybody ever told you, you don't have exactly the warmest personality. Wade wants to give sharp retort, but a look at Jake's warmhearted, smiling face and she decides to dismiss him by turning her attention back to her work. But Jake isn’t moving. WADE When I was a kid, my sister told me about dealing with little boys: look 'em straight in the eye and never let 'em see you smile, ‘cause if you do they think you want’ go to bed with ‘em. JAKE My brother told me the same thing when I went on my first date! She smiled at me, I didn't listen, and now she's my wife. Wade breaks a smile, but Merlin walks by and casts a disparaging look. Wade reigns in her smile, but Jake returns a harsh grin to Merlin that sends him away.

47

JAKE Now, tell me what you're doing. WADE After that butt chewing... JAKE Nice flying, but dumb. WADE Okay. I admit it. I figure I'll learn from my mistakes, especially about showing off. JAKE (moving to shelves) Funny thing about mistakes: sometimes it makes you into a hero, other times it just makes you plain dead. WADE I don't get it. JAKE Ah, it's nothin'. Every pilot makes mistakes. The good ones and lucky ones get out of it, the bad ones... Maybe this will help.

48

(hands her a binder) It's every dumb thing anybody ever tried in a Swamp Eagle. INSERT binder cover: "F-15E ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORTS" Wade opens binder. INSERT page: PHOTO of mangled wreckage of F-15E. JAKE (continued) I'll see you at the Colonel's. WADE The Colonel's? Holy shit! She gathers her things and races from the room.

49

EXT. COLONEL GRAY'S HOUSE - NIGHT Wade approaches, still fixing her clothes. She's attractive in civvies, but not overdone. Falling in behind other squadron members, most with their wives, she notices Gray at the doorway greeting people. WADE (sotto) I'm totally screwed. Wade pulls out of line and heads around the side of the house, cautiously entering through the kitchen. INT. COLONEL GRAY'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT Food service workers hardly give Wade a notice when she enters and makes way across the kitchen to living room door. She takes tray of food from a worker. WADE I'm happy to take that for you. INT. COLONEL GRAY'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

50

Gray notices Wade coming from the kitchen. She's also noticed by many other guests, including Bowman. WADE Good evening, Sir. GRAY (slightly baffled) Wade? He watches her cross the room to his wife DIANE. The two women become amiably engaged placing food, until Diane cordially moves on to her next hosting task. Jake and his wife BETTY join Wade. Rocko and his wife JEAN walk past with barely an acknowledgement. JAKE Betty, this is Janet Wade. Wade is caught by surprise, her hands in mid-motion, placing trays of food. WADE (fumbling trays) Eh... Hi.

51

Betty eyes her up and down, but seeing Wade's predicament, Betty's nature moves her to help. BETTY Jake speaks quite a bit about you. I can see why. Sheepish-looking Jake and an embarrassed Wade. BETTY (continued; to Wade) Tell me, you know, girl to girl, what do they really do on those extended deployments? Wade hesitates, then whispers in Betty's ear. BETTY Really? JAKE Hey, no fair! BETTY I'd love to hear more about this.

52

JAKE (pulling Betty away) I think you've heard enough, and (to Wade) I'll talk to you later! INT. COLONEL GRAY'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - LATER The party is winding down. At the couch, a group of Women are sitting in conversation. In the adjoining family room, the Men are demonstrating maneuvers and competing at "grabbing the quarter". Rocko is clearly a winner. Wade is doing busy work cleaning when Diane approaches. DIANE My dear, you've certainly done more than enough. Why don't you join the ladies there, and relax a bit? Wade nods her appreciation, but when she turns to comply, she's torn between the Ladies and the Men. Bowman surprises her from behind.

53

BOWMAN Why don't you "join the ladies"? Or is it you'd prefer a little test of speed? Bowman makes a nod towards Rocko. memories. Wade smiles at the private

WADE I'm not much for small talk. BOWMAN How 'bout small rumors? WADE Promoting you to General? BOWMAN The Joint Military Exercise in Japan -we're sending a flight over to take part, and our mission will be -- attack-a-Navycarrier. WADE No shit -- I mean, really?

54

Bowman smiles, knowing he's grabbed her attention, and settles in for conversation. From the family room, Rob and Jake take notice of Wade and Bowman standing in the hallway. ROB (to Jake) Is he puttin' the make on her? JAKE Bowman? He's just playin'. Besides, he knows if there's one thing they'll clip wings for, it's makin' it with junior officers in your command. They give another look at Wade and Bowman. ROB You sure he knows better? At another look, Jake begins to wonder. In the living room, Betty looks up from her conversation to see Jake staring at Wade.

55

INT. SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - DAY ZOE WADE is walking through Airport weighted down with baggage. She passes PHONE KIOSK and pauses. ZOË What the hell. She turns back to the kiosk and struggles to find her phone book, then to find a phone number, then dials. ZOË Collect from Zoë. INT. WADE'S OFFICE, SQUADRON HQ - DAY Wade shares the small office with Jake. immersed in their own paper work. They're both

WADE There’s nearly 1200 directives regarding family dependents.

56

JAKE I once calculated spending 4438 hours reading directives and only 2150 hours flying in planes. Wade is folding a piece of paper into an airplane. WADE You're saying you're better at flying directives than a plane? JAKE Not better, just more experienced. Wade's phone rings. WADE 102nd Fighter Squadron, Captain Wade speaking.... Collect? INTERCUT - AIRPORT - ZOE ON PHONE ZOE Yeah, as in your sister "Zoe".

57

WADE Damn -- okay, I'll take it. idea calling collect? ZOE Take it out of my taxes.

What's the

WADE Yeah, as if you ever paid taxes. So, what's the trouble this time? ZOE I'm at San Francisco Airport and I'm getting on a plane to Tokyo. WADE Get out'a here. ZOE I'm in the USO. Bob Hope retired, Brooke Shields ain’t available, so they're sending me. Believe it? WADE Not really.

58

AIRPORT ANNOUNCER (V.O.) Announcing final boarding for United flight 8-5-3 to Tokyo. ZOE They're calling my plane, gotta go. on my way back. See you

Wade turns her back on Jake to cover her voice. WADE We may be over there for a military exercise with the Navy. ZOE Great. We'll show 'em how to party. go. Love you, bye. WADE Love you, sis. Wade hangs up phone with a melancholy sigh, and looks at PHOTO of the two young sisters. Alongside is a photo of her grandmother taken 50 years before. She’s in full flight gear in front of a P-51 Mustang. Gotta

59

JAKE That the "look'em in the eye, don't let 'em see you smile" sister? Yeah. WADE She's got a gig in Japan. JAKE A musician? WADE Makes Tina Turner look like a nun. She's about to throw paper plane, but doesn't. INT. SQUADRON BRIEFING ROOM - DAY Flight crews assembled for briefing. Wade sits by herself intently reading book when Bowman approaches. BOWMAN Mind if I join you? WADE (surprised) Of course.

60

BOWMAN Of course you mind, or of course you don't mind? WADE Of course, Major, have a seat. BOWMAN You did good staying up with me the other day. WADE Considering you had about 10,000 pounds thrust on me? BOWMAN Considering. WADE (hesitantly) How come you didn't tell the Colonel about my little stunt?

61

BOWMAN (smiling) I decided when you hang yourself, you're not gonna be blamin' me for it. WADE Thanks for the confidence. Gray enters. Ten Hut! PETERS

GRAY The rumors we're practicing naval attacks to stop tourist ships coming to Alaska are not true. Group LAUGHTER. GRAY (continued) Rumors we're sending planes to Tokyo as part of a joint exercise are true! Our mission will be to attack and sink a Navy aircraft carrier.

62

BOWMAN (to Wade) What did I tell you. Boisterous response from crews as Peters posts list. GRAY (continued) Good luck, good fishing! Oh, one more thing. General Eisner is flying in tomorrow. Everyone will be there. In dress blues! Group snaps to as Gray leaves the room, but when he's gone, they rush to see the posting. Those selected, including Bowman and Jake, are full of excitement. Wade finally gets to list. INT. GRAY's OFFICE - DAY Gray is busy at work. Wade KNOCKS at the open doorway. Obvious disappointment.

WADE Excuse me, Sir.

63

GRAY (not looking up) You're pissed off because you weren't selected? WADE Well, Sir... GRAY You think you're better than some others who are going? Yes, Sir. WADE

GRAY You think you're getting a bad break 'cause you're a woman? WADE As a matter of fact... Gray rises and gets menacingly close.

64

GRAY It has nothing to do with being a woman. has everything to do with your not being ready! You don't have the experience. WADE I'd like a chance to prove myself.

It

GRAY Not this time. People will be out to prove who's tops. The smart ones will be doin' stupid things and the stupid ones will be doing downright dumb things. WADE I can do it, Sir! GRAY Look, you're the sixth one in here about this, and like the rest of them, you're not ready, you're not going. And that's the last word! WADE Sir...

65

GRAY The last word! EXT. RAMP AREA - DAY C-5A, giant military transport, pulls up to the ramp area lined by a formation of Personnel standing at attention. Wade stands in the ranks of her squadron. Plane comes to a stop; engines shut down; door opens. Ground crew puts stairs in position, and senior officers form receiving line. Major General MARCUS EISNER makes his appearance at the doorway. Colonel DAN COLLIER, Base Commander, snaps a smart salute, returned smartly by the General. Eisner walks receiving line of officers. Takes salute from each and shaks hands. F-15C's do a flyby. INT. HANGAR - DAY Two F-15E's inside hanger looking awesome and deadly. Gray leads Eisner and entourage through inspection.

66

GRAY (to Junior Officer) Impressive, isn't it? JUNIOR OFFICER It sure is, Sir. GRAY The primary mission of this plane is simple: destroy any target, any where, in any weather, and kill anything that gets in our way. JUNIOR OFFICER Excuse me, sir, what is this? GRAY The Cockpit drain hole? we'll piss on 'em. Polite CHUCKLES from entourage. GRAY (continued) It's the wind sensor, for adjusting bomb trajectory. If all else fails,

67

EISNER Thank you, Colonel. I expect you'll put it to good use against the Navy. GRAY Count on it, Sir. "Sink a duck and save a buck" is our motto! The group moves towards doorway to Squadron. Gray aside as the rest move on. EISNER Wilton, I've got a job for you. GRAY Sir? EISNER The UN is stepping into Bosnia and the President wants us to provide air cover. need you to deploy some of your planes. GRAY Yes, Sir -- Sir, about Captain Wade. Eisner pulls

I

68

EISNER Captain Wade? GRAY She's my new pilot. EISNER Oh, that one. GRAY With the Naval exercise and Bosnia, I should be using her. I suppose I could leave her here with the reserve flight? EISNER Congress decided on the "equal opportunity to die policy", not me. Her number comes up like everyone else! Eisner begins to walk on. GRAY If you think that's best, Sir.

69

EISNER (second thoughts) In Hanoi, when I was a POW, a trip to hell would have been a step up in the world. I'd hate to put an American girl in that situation. (beat) She's your pilot, so it's your call. Gray is less than thrilled by the dilemma. INT. EXAMINING ROOM, HOSPITAL, MILLER FALLS AFB - DAY Wade sits on examining table in small, intensely white room. Genway is using an examining scope to look at Wade's ears, nose and throat. GENWAY Congratulations. Wade gives her a questioning look. GENWAY (continued) You're on the big exercise with the Navy, called, eh...

70

WADE Return Thunder. GENWAY That's it. Who thinks of these names? You must be pretty good up there. I hear the brass's got more bets on it than an ArmyNavy game. WADE They ran out of people sending most of the others to Bosnia. GENWAY You wouldn't want to go there. WADE You are kidding? An exercise is fun but it's not the real thing. I asked for Bosnia. I'm sure so did everyone else. Genway doesn’t quite get it.

71

WADE (continued) Like my sister would say: "You want to be a singer, you gotta get out there and sing." Ahhh. GENWAY Notches on a gun.

WADE I didn’t make the. Wade twinges when Genway surprises her with an injection. INT. HALLWAY, BASE HOSPITAL, MILLER FALLS AFB - DAY Wade is walking down the hallway. JAKE So how'd you make out? Four "F". WADE Jake hurries to catch up.

Confused look from Jake.

72

WADE (continued) Fit for foreign flying. time.

What a waste of

JAKE Come on, you don't expect them to send you to get killed until they're sure you're healthy. Right. (beat) Hey, so not only are you going to Bosnia, but I hear you made the Major's list. Is the Air Force that hard up? JAKE I'll remember you said that when I start ordering you around. WADE (gives him an elbow) Get out of here. Besides, it's not official for six weeks. WADE

73

JAKE Enjoy while you can. Rocko's wife, Jean, takes notice of Jake and Wade. INT. GRAY'S OFFICE - DAY Gray looks out window at Wade on the flight line by herself. She's making close inspection of an F-15E. He turns to his desk and dials phone. GRAY (into phone) This is Colonel Gray. (beat) Cut the medical bull. What you're saying is there's nothing wrong. Nothing to keep -that might interfere with her performance? INTERCUT - GENWAY'S OFFICE Genway is on the phone.

74

GENWAY It's only an exercise. an excuse?

Are you looking for

GRAY I have responsibility for the safety of my people, not to mention some very expensive equipment. You have the same responsibility. GENWAY Is that the only reason? GRAY That's enough reason. GENWAY I'm not grounding her for taking Midol, not when they pop amphetamines like M&M's to stay awake on those long flights. GRAY That's different and you know it! We're not talkin' about drivin' a bus. There's no pullin' to the side of the road.

75

GENWAY (long silence) Captain Wade -- Captain Wade is fully qualified for duty. GRAY You think this is just any exercise. But the way these people will have to fly, it might as well be war, and nearly as dangerous. I hope you know what you're doing. Genway wonders if she made the right call. EXT. FLIGHT LINE - DAY Against backdrop of row of F-15E's, Colonel Collier, Base Commander, addresses the Squadron. Crews, dressed in flight gear, stand in formation while their families and other personnel stand to the side.

76

COLLIER Those of you going to Bosnia face the possibility of hostile action. Those on the exercise will train for war we hope never comes. All of you face danger that is the very nature of the job we do, but a necessary part of preserving the strength and peace of our nation. Fly safely, God speed. As crews break off to say family good-byes, Wade and Rob are left standing aimlessly by their gear. In the background, Jake is saying goodbye to his family. ROB (looking around) Looks like it's just you and me. mount up?

Shall we

A short distance away, Bowman is standing with Gray and Wildcat going over flight details. Bowman gives Wade a number of anxious looks. WADE Guess we might as well.

77

(reaches in her bag) I brought you a book. Give you somethin' to do on the way over. ROB No kiddin' -- a tech manual? Gee, thanks.

They pick up their gear and walk to their plane. Jake finishes his good-byes and hurries to catch up. Betty continues watching from the distance. When he reaches them, he puts his hand on Wade's shoulder in a casual gesture. ROB Wade, aren't there rules about us not having to walk with Majors? JAKE Give it a rest. Both of you remember something: Navy gets real emotional when anyone gets close to a carrier even if it's only an exercise.

78

WADE Get this: he's telling us to be careful playin' tag with the Navy when he's goin' to a war. They exchange friendly salutes, and go their ways to mount up along with the other flight crews. INT. WADE'S F-15E - DAY As Wade sits in her cockpit, readying for takeoff, she does her usual lipstick fix. Rob is disapproving. EXT. FLIGHT LINE - DAY One by one, F-15E's start engines and taxi out. the crowd, each gives an Air-Brake Wave. As they pass

The planes take off in tandem pairs and form up into two groups, one heading west, the other east. The crowd looks on with mixture of sadness and pride.

79

EXT. SOMEWHERE OVER THE PACIFIC - TWILIGHT Six F-15E's fly in loose formation high over Pacific. Crews are relatively relaxed but fidgety and cramped. INT. WADE's F-15E - OVER THE PACIFIC - TWILIGHT Wade is taking in the beauty. Rob is reading.

WADE That's one awesome sunset. Rob looks from his book to give unenthusiastic reply. ROB Nice. He’s back to reading, but in a moment looks at Wade. Wade? Yeah? ROB WADE

80

ROB What's with the lipstick? They exchange a look in the rearview. ROB (continued) When you're gettin' ready for take-off, you make this big thing of putting on lipstick. WADE So, you put on jockey shorts and I put on lipstick. Big deal. ROB Lots of people think women don't belong here, flying combat and all. WADE How long did it take you to figure that one out? ROB No, really. Why give another reason not to take you seriously?

81

WADE And it would all change if only I stopped with the lipstick? Wade can see in the rearview that Rob understands. ROCKO (V.O.) Hey, Major, I'm down to a thousand pounds of fuel. When do we get dinner around here? INTERCUT - INT. OF PLANES. BOWMAN Take-outs on the way. RP in two minutes. MUSKRAT What's a matter? Still nursing mother's milk? ROCKO What's wrong with breast feeding? any extra? Wade shakes her head in exasperation. Wade, got

82

BOWMAN Cut the chatter. Cow's at one o'clock even. Rocko up first, Wade on deck. It's getting bumpy, so watch yourselves. EXT. KC-135 AERIAL TANKER - TWILIGHT Tanker cruising at altitude. F-15E's approaching slowly from rear. Planes buffeted by wind. Rocko struggles into position behind Tanker and Wade moves in behind. BOOM OPERATOR (V.O.) Come to mama. You're in the track. You are 50 feet out... 40 feet... hold it steady... 20 feet... hold it steady... steady... 3 feet... Sudden crosswind forces break off. MUSKRAT Rocko, stop screwin’ around. Bingo fuel out here. We're goin’ on

83

BOWMAN Settle down, people. get it in there.

Come on, Rocko, let's

Rocko, in heavy sweat, makes another approach. BOOM OPERATOR (V.O.) 50 feet... 40... hold it steady... 30 feet... watch the wind, hold it...steady. LOCKED! BOOM slips into refueling hole on plane. ROCKO Fill'er up, and none of the cheap stuff, neither. Don't forget the windows. BOOM OPERATOR Self-service. Clean 'em yourself. Gusts of wind hit the planes, ripping boom loose and sending metal flying off, striking Wade's plane. EXT. WADE'S F-15E - TWILIGHT

84

Chunks of metal tear into the plane, slicing fuel and hydraulic lines and blowing out an engine. Plane rolls out of control into steep dive. INTERCUT - INT. WADE'S F-15E - LIGHTS FLASHING. Wade stays all business as she battles the emergency. WADE Squawk mayday! Standby eject, we're going in. Number one is a goner. Trying restart on two. Plane begins to buffet violently. Wade is frantically working controls; trying to restart. ROB It's no good. 10,000 feet! WADE Blow auxiliary fuel tanks. bastard, come on. START! Come on, you

Wing mounted auxiliary tanks fall away. ROB Five thousand! PUNCH OUT!

85

WADE Not yet! Number Two engine ignites. YES! WADE\ROB

ROB (continued) Two thousand! Now or never! Wade surprises herself, pulling out of the dive just above the waves. WADE Here's to the big pilot in the sky. ROB You didn't tell me to bring a swimming suit. WADE Affraid of a little skinny dippin'? Bowman pulls into position off their starboard wing.

86

BOWMAN You people okay? WADE One engine gone; on auxiliary power and bingo fuel. Other than that, send a beach boy 'cause we may need some towels. BOWMAN RP with another tanker in two minutes. you make it? WADE Let's find out. EXT. OSAKA AIRPORT (MILITARY) - RAMP AREA - NIGHT Crew members inspect Wade's damaged F-15E, amazed at it's severity. CREW CHIEF You're supposed to fly ‘em above, not below, the water. Can

87

WADE Yeah, yeah, but can you fix it in time for the exercise? CREW CHIEF If you wanna make it a sub, it's no problem, but a plane? ROB Come on, stop jerkin' with us. Can you fix it? CREW CHIEF Hydraulics shot; needs an engine and serious body work. Rocko, Merlin, and Muskrat look on, gloating. ROCKO Ain't that a bitch. WADE Screw you. This is your fault. You don't even know how to suck a mother's tit without screwin' up.

88

Rocko gets in her face and they have a shoving match, but Rob steps in to back her up. ROB Yeah, you idiot, you could have gotten us killed. Merlin and Muskrat make a move to back up Rocko. BOWMAN Enough! Rocko, the rest of you, out of here. You too, Rob. They leave. Rocko and Rob still exchanging insults.

BOWMAN (continued) You know, I didn't think you were gonna come out of that. WADE (angry) Wouldn't that solve problems!

89

Bowman notices her hand shaking. He takes her wrist and holds it out to where Wade also sees it, but she quickly pulls her hand away. BOWMAN It's okay. Lots of people would be scared dropping from four miles up. WADE I wasn't scared. Sure. It's adrenaline.

BOWMAN Anyway, a nice recovery.

WADE What about the exercise? BOWMAN What about it? WADE How am I gonna fly in it? BOWMAN Without a plane, you don't.

90

WADE What about Rocko's plane? He was the one who screwed things up, and if it wasn't for the other tanker nearby, we'd all of been shark food. BOWMAN You know, you shouldn't have been behind him, and so close. WADE So now it's my fault? BOWMAN Sometimes things happen. I'm sorry.

WADE If you're so sorry, then how 'bout I use your plane? Bowman shakes his head in dismay and walks away. Wade angrily pounds plane with her fist then takes notice of her shaking hand. Crew Chief looks on. INT. LARGE ASSEMBLY HALL - DAY

91

Military personnel from all branches of the service and allies (Japan, Korea, Australia) fill hall. Senior officers, led by General Eisner and Admiral ZUMONT, on stage. Map of Sea of Japan as backdrop. EISNER Gentlemen, welcome to the annual Return Thunder Exercise. The objective is to defend against a superior force and counter attack with an amphibious assault. Wade sits with the others from the 102nd sit near the back, but she’s sullen and not paying attention. BOWMAN Our objective is sink us a duck dressed as an Aircraft Carrier. ROCKO Feathers and all! Others chuckle, but nearby, Navy types, led by LT. Commander BILL (DRAGON) MARTIN, are not amused. Among the Navy flyers is LT. LISA TRUMAN. She's tall and attractive in a wholesome way, but very professional.

92

DRAGON The only feathers will be Eagles', plucked and burned. WADE (offhanded) Just like a tomcat -- lots of wailing, but can't get it up. Bowman gives Wade a nod of approval at her insult, but some Navy guys rise from their seats at the provocation. Air Force guys rise in defense. EISNER (noticing commotion) A problem back there? BOWMAN/DRAGON (embarrassed) No, Sir! No problem, Sir! EISNER (sarcastic) Good, then I'll just finish up, with your permission, that is.

93

CHORUS Yes, Sir! Roger-that/Aye Aye, Sir! INT. LARGE ASSEMBLY HALL - LATER The meeting is breaking up. As everyone makes their way to exits, Bowman notes the Navy people nearby. BOWMAN Wade, you were right. I never did see a Tomcat that could get it up. JUNIOR NAVY OFFICER We'll see about that when you're all in deep six! ROCKO Only thing goin' down is your carrier, and you with it. DRAGON You couldn't even land on a carrier, let alone sink it! BOWMAN Thousand bucks says we take it out.

94

DRAGON Thousand bucks? You're on! BOWMAN (to Dragon) Maybe a little side bet on a game of Crud! Help warm things up. DRAGON You got it! "O" "C" one hour. Eisner and Zumont overhear exchange. EISNER Hundred bucks on the Air Force. ZUMONT Let's make it for two hundred. INT. OFFICERS CLUB, TOKYO, JAPAN - NIGHT Wade, Air Force and Navy pilots gather around pool table with both sides taking off jackets and rolling up sleeves. Bowman and Dragon face off across table.

95

Rules? None!

BOWMAN DRAGON

Dragon brings a cigarette to his lips and Bowman casually lights it with a Zippo. DRAGON Thanks. A hand comes from nowhere and slaps a quarter on the table. The Men turn to look with excitement at the mysterious woman. It's Zoe, looking hot and wild. ZOE I challenge -- all of you! ROCKO Hey, babe, this is a three man game, but if you're lookin' for some one on one, I'm definitely available. Babe? ZOE You call me "babe"?

96

Zoe looks around and focuses on Wade and Truman. ZOE (continued) I'll take those two. against the boys! Janet gags on her drink. ZOE (continued) Or you afraid of losing? Well, you got the balls or not? (to Janet and Truman) With me? Truman hesitating until nod from Dragon gives okay. Why not? TRUMAN

Call it the women

An Air Force, Navy, and Marine aviator step forward. WADE (to Bowman) How 'bout bein' ref, if you think you can be fair, that is?

97

Fair?

BOWMAN I'm the fairest guy you'll ever know.

Wade gives him a doubting look as Zoe proudly pulls off a three cushion practice shot. But Wade takes the stick from her. WADE It's not that sort of game. By the way Lieutenant... (checking her tag) ...Truman, this is my big sister Zoe, and I'm Wade. TRUMAN This some kind of set up? WADE Yeah, set up to get creamed, thanks to my sister here! (to Zoe) Still gettin’ me into it huh? ZOE Don't worry, we'll kick butt.

98

TRUMAN Does she know what Crud is? Wade is holding cue ball and lining up shot [No stick is used in Crud]. The Men are crowding in on her. Nope! WADE

ZOE You know I'm a pool shark. be?

How hard can it

Three men charge the women, nearly knocking them over. ZOE (continued) So you wanna play rough? Zoe stomps one guy's foot, elbows the next, and lifts the last one on the table by his crotch. Side-betting onlookers HOOTING wildly as Wade and Truman fall into the ensuing melee of body checks.

99

Wade breaks free and makes the shot, but a body slam throws her into Bowman. He steadies her a bit longer than necessary as she regains her balance. Truman gets to the ball and picks it up just as it comes to a complete stop. Silence fills crowd as they wait for Bowman's call. BOWMAN POINT... Girls! Wade gives him a dirty look. BOWMAN (continued) Excuse me, Women!

Point Women!

The Men moan with disappointment. Truman and Zoe are ecstatic in triumph, but Wade is very angry. TRUMAN/ZOE (high fiving)

Yes!

100

BOWMAN (smiling; to Wade) See, I told you I could be fair. Fair? win. WADE I don't need you giving me points to

BOWMAN Giving points? WADE (to Zoe and Truman) Let's get out of here. EXT. GINZA DISTRICT - TOKYO - NIGHT Wade, Zoe, and Truman carousing down small side street singing old rock and roll songs, obviously inebriated. They stop in front of neon lit BONSAI CLUB. TRUMAN How 'bout this, the Bonsai Club?

101

Bonsai!

WADE/ZOE Bonsai! Bonsai!

The Girls parade in. INT. BONSAI CLUB - NIGHT Karaoke Club with Japanese businessmen scattered about. Three AUSSIE PILOTS off to the side flirting with some BGIRLS. On stage a JAPANESE BUSINESSMAN is singing slowed version of "Light My Fire". All take notice as the Girls are shown to a table. ZOE You know, he's singin' my song and he's doin' a lousy job of it. BAR GIRL You want order drink? WADE Yeah, give us one big Scorpion. Something that will… (to the music) "light our fire".

102

TRUMAN "The time to hesitate is through". WADE/ZOE/TRUMAN "Come on, baby, light my fire…" Girls do stirring rendition of song. When they're finished, they receive rousing applause. AUSSIE #1, comes to the table. AUSSIE #1 If you don't mind my saying, that was terrific. My mates and I, we'd sure love to buy all you a drink. Girls make a quick check of the Aussies, then give a not quite certain nod of approval. AUSSIE #1 (continued) Mind if we join you? Purely in the interest of improving relations between allies.

103

ZOË If you put it like that, for my country, anything. Before Zoë can finish, the Aussies are at the table. EXT. HOTEL ROOFTOP SWIMMING POOL - NIGHT A trail of clothes leads to pool from table covered with overstuffed ashtray and half empty glasses. Truman glides through the water lit by the glow of underwater lights. Aussie #2 dives in, joining her in perfect unison until they come together in a slow, sensual tread. He cups her face in tender embrace and begins a long kiss. PAN down side of building to exterior Window of hotel. THROUGH Window we see Zoë and Aussie #3 making love. PAN to adjoining hotel room window.

104

THROUGH Window, we see Wade and Aussie #1 making love. Wade rises to unhook her bra and then falls back into passionate embrace. In a moment, she stops. INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Wade and Aussie are struggling under the sheets. WADE Wait a second -- I said wait! Wait? AUSSIE

WADE Ever hear of birth control? AUSSIE Don't all you Americans take pills or somethin'? WADE What about biological warfare? Protective clothing?

105

AUSSIE Protective clothing?

Ohhh, you mean...

WADE (reaching into purse) Here -- better use two. She dives back under sheets, and they resume. EXT. TOP OF TOKYO TOWER - EARLY MORNING Zoe, Truman, and Wade are sound asleep on benches. completely disheveled. They're

Wade begins to stir as sun breaks through open girders and lands on her face. She turns away from sun and as her eyes open she finds herself staring out into space 1,000 feet above the earth, Mt. Fuji in background. Holy shit! WADE

Her sudden reaction brings Zoe and Truman to life with a start as they also realize the precarious position.

106

Truman and Wade moan with aftereffects of evening's binge, while Zoe, fully alert, calmly pulls herself together. WADE How the hell did we get on top of the Eiffel Tower? TRUMAN Screw that. How the hell did we get to Paris? ZOË It's the Tokyo Tower, which happens like the Eiffel tower. to look

TRUMAN That's good, 'cause I'd never make it to the ship if this were Paris. (looks at her watch) My God! We ship out in an hour. They exchange a look and brace for action, putting on their shoes as they race for the elevator. Disembarking TOURISTS look aghast at their appearance.

107

WADE (to crowd) Don't eat the sushi. Crash dive! TRUMAN

They turn green as elevator begins near free-fall. EXT. AIRCRAFT CARRIER - NAVAL DOCK, TOKYO HARBOR - DAY The Carrier is tied at the dock. Wade, Zoe, and Truman arrive in taxi and get out, still pulling themselves together. TRUMAN Made it. Sure one hell of a night. (notices Zoe's bra strap) Isn't that mine? ZOE (looking) Guess so. TRUMAN How'd you get my...

108

They exchange glances, then burst into laughter. Dragon leads disheveled Navy flyers hurrying to ship. DRAGON You girls look like shit. TRUMAN Shit looks good next to you four! DRAGON Better hurry, Truman, they're pullin' in the gangway. TRUMAN That was a night to remember. forget to send it back. Hey, don't

They exchange a friendly nod and warm embrace. TRUMAN See you up top. WADE Not this time.

109

Truman gives her a questioning look. WADE (continued) Long story. Another time. TRUMAN Well, take care -- both of you. Truman turns to leave. WADE Hey, Truman. How was yours? Truman gives thumbs up. Wade gives less enthusiastic waver of the hand and they both look to Zoe. ZOE Maybe you girls kiss and tell, but not me. But she flashes them a broad grin. They smile as Truman races up gangway and disappears into the ship. Wade and Zoe walk away, arm in arm.

110

WADE I'll handle 9g turns with the best, but a night on the town with you… ZOE Can't keep up, huh? Better stick with easy stuff like that souped up piece of flyin' metal of yours. WADE More like scrap metal right now. ZOE Maybe it's time you carry our lucky quarter for a while. She flips a quarter. Janet reaches out and catches it mid air. INT. AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE HANGER - DAY F-15E in the hanger with Crew Chief working on it. Rob leads Wade, still not fully together, towards it.

111

WADE I got a killer hangover and I'm in a lousy mood. What's so important you had to drag me out here now? Rob brings them to a stop in front of their plane as Crew Chief stands proudly by. WADE (continued) A plane. I'm impressed. here to see a plane? ROB Got the first part right. Wade looks at them in bewilderment. Then it sinks in. She moves closer. Then reverently touches it. WADE You did it! You fixed it! marry you. Chief, I could

You dragged me

CREW CHIEF Afraid that's against the rules Ma'am officers and enlisted.

112

WADE Hell with rules! It's a match made in heaven. I fly 'em, you fix 'em. CREW CHIEF I think I'd be on the short end of that one. WADE (caressing plane) Don't you worry 'bout a thing, Chief. thing. ROB Back in business. Rob offers up a high-five, and Wade gives it to him. WADE Yes we are! Wade notices Bowman standing nearby. He gives her an apologetic smile. Wade isn't quite sure what it means.

Not a

113

EXT. RUGGED HILLSIDE TERRAIN - MORNING Defending Soldiers huddle in trenches against cold and fog. First they hear CLANKING of approaching armor, then TANKS appear out of mist and begin opening fire. Igniting smoke pods simulate soldiers being hit while other soldiers strike back with laser guided missiles. Out of lifting fog come Apache Helicopters buzzing across battlefield after retreating defenders. EXT. CARRIER FLIGHT DECK - DAY A-6 Intruders take off and fly towards land -- bomb attacking force of advancing tanks. EXT. CRUISER - DAY

Eight inch guns fire towards shore. INTERCUT - TARGET AREA - EXPLODING SHELLS

114

EXT. AMPHIBIOUS LANDING - DAY Under cover of Cruiser fire, Marines approach beach in amphibious craft. Helicopters buzz overhead towards approaching land. A-6's pass overhead flying inland. EXT. BEACHHEAD - DAY Marines landing on beach and moving inland. EXT. ESTABLISH CARRIER AT SEA - DAY Cacophony of activity as planes are launched. INT. CARRIER - SITUATION ROOM - DAY Zumont shows Eisner the high-tech command center as Sailors work in organized chaos tracking the Battle. SAILOR #1 (to Zumont) Sir, the Marine Commander reports the amphibious landing is complete.

115

ZUMONT (gloating) Excellent. Well, General, pretty soon your main force will be completely cut off. EISNER I don't think so. ZUMONT (snickering) Still betting your planes are gonna take us out? EISNER It only takes one. Zumont leads him over to the tactical board. ZUMONT I've got the most heavily defended airspace in the world around this ship. If you think it's happenin', you're dreamin'. EISNER My dreams. Your nightmares.

116

INT. AIR FORCE SQUAD ROOM - DAY Bowman is leading briefing of flight crews. BOWMAN There's an old saying: "If it looks like, walks like, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck." But just so there's no confusion. (rolls down picture) Gentlemen, and lady, a duck! LAUGHTER from squadron at picture of Aircraft Carrier. BOWMAN (continued; looks at watch) We are six hours into the exercise. The duck, I mean carrier, is supporting an amphibious landing cutting off our main force. Our mission is critical: we take out the carrier or we lose the battle. ROCKO It'll be duck soup. Chuckles from the Squadron.

117

BOWMAN If we don't nail the carrier, our asses are gonna be in eagle soup. Remember, no terrain to hide us, and each plane has a Simulation pack so there's no question if you're hit. Weapons will be live fired, but they'll self destruct after launch. Any questions? (scans the room) Okay, here's our attack plan. EXT. SEA OF JAPAN - DAY Dead calm. INTO FRAME F-15E flying 200 ft. off the deck. PULL BACK TO REVEAL second F-15E flying in formation. PULL BACK MORE TO REVEAL two more F-15E's flying in tight formation like shadows beneath the other planes. SERIES OF ANGLES on planes skimming just above the ocean.

118

INTERCUT - INT. ANGLES ON FLIGHT CREWS with Bowman in the lead and Wade flying in his shadow. EXT. E-2 HAWKEYE [CARRIER BASED AWACS PLANE] - DAY ESTABLISH: Plane is flying high over the ocean.

INT. E-2 HAWKEYE - DAY ANGLE on PILOT. PAN to SENIOR RADAR OFFICER. FOLLOW as he moves from cockpit towards rear of plane, stops at Radar Station. RADAR OPERATOR focused on his scope. corner of screen. TWO BLIPS appear in one

RADAR OPERATOR Contact! Bogeys. Two Aircraft, Range 2-7-5 miles, heading 1-9-4, speed five sixty, altitude 2-0-0. F-14 PILOT (V.O.) Roger, Red Eye, bogeys on scope.

119

EXT. F-14 TOMCAT - DAY ESTABLISH two F-14’s flying CAP over ocean. INT. F-14 TOMCAT - DAY PAN from PILOT to WIZZO. F-14 PILOT Red Ball One, Vectoring to 2-8-5 for intercept on your bogeys. Throttles pushed to full Military. EXT. F-14 TOMCAT - DAY F-14's peel off and head down toward the ocean. EXT. CARRIER FLIGHT DECK - DAY Controlled chaos as two F-14's are prepared for launch. Truman gets herself set in the cockpit and stands by.

120

INTERCUT - FLIGHT OPERATIONS CONTROLLER Ranger Flight, you're on the alert pad and ready for launch. We have bogeys on the field. Stand by. TRUMAN Roger, TOWN HOUSE. INT. CARRIER - SITUATION ROOM - DAY Heightened activity. Zumont leads Eisner to Threat Plotting Board. SEAMAN plots Bogey and F-14 tracks. ZUMONT Well, here come your boys. stand a chance in hell. INTERCUT - E-2 RADAR PLANE Two more blips appear on Radar Screen. And they don't

121

RADAR OPERATOR New contact! Bogeys. Two more Aircraft, Range 2-8-7 miles, heading 2-7-9, speed 950, at 18 thousand. Plotter marks the new target on the display. ZUMONT A little high-low action there? EISNER I'm just an observer. ZUMONT Observe this: Aegis Cruiser at work! EXT. AEGIS CRUISER [RADAR/MISSILE CRUISER] - DAY ESTABLISH Aegis Cruiser at sea. INT. AEGIS CRUISER - WEAPONS CONTROL ROOM - DAY Giant display dominates the room. CAPTAIN stands over the weapons console; OPERATOR manipulates controls.

122

OPERATOR Definitely a bandit, Sir. CAPTAIN Prepare to launch missiles. are dummy coded. Verify missiles

EXECUTIVE OFFICER (EXEC) Roger, missiles dummy coded. Test launch only. Automatic self-destruct in 6 seconds. CAPTAIN Verify targeting. OPERATOR Range 1-9-4, speed 1-3-7-8, course heading 3-2-4, altitude, 1-3-6-0-0. Coming in fast. EXEC Missiles ready. CAPTAIN Launch missile. EXEC Aye aye, Sir. Launch missile!

123

WEAPONS (presses switch) Missile launched. EXT. AEGIS CRUISER - MISSILE DECK - DAY Missile ignites in smoke plume, explodes into flight. INT. AEGIS CRUISER - WEAPONS CONTROL ROOM - DAY CONTROLLER Second target locked. CAPTAIN Fire missile. EXT. AEGIS CRUISER - MISSILE DECK - DAY Missile ignites in smoke plume, explodes into flight. FOLLOW as it runs up launch rail, flies into distance. HEAD ON as it races into air, then EXPLODES. HEAD ON second missile as it races up and EXPLODES.

124

INT. CARRIER - SITUATION ROOM - DAY Everyone is keyed into the action. approaching targets. Radar displays missiles

WEAPONS Missiles self-destructed as coded. Using Simulation Program firing data -- running hot and true. CONTROLLER Central reports two bandits iced. CHEER from crew. ZUMONT Two down. Surely you can do better than that, General. CONTROLLER Hawkeye has two more bandits coming in on 38-7, speed 5-90, altitude 2-0-0, range 2-77. ZUMONT Launch Alert Flight.

125

EXEC. Roger, launching Alert Flight. EXT. CARRIER DECK - DAY Deck CREW preps F-14 for launch. Military salute, then catapult fires plane into the Air. FAST PAN to Truman's F-14 and catapult fires again. EXT. FLIGHT OF TWO F-15E's LED BY MUSKRAT - DAY ESTABLISH two F-15E's on the deck at high speed. INT. MUSKRAT'S F-15E - DAY Rocket Man picks up approaching interceptors on Radar. ROCKET MAN Two bandits coming down on us from 20,000 feet. Looks like Tomcats.

126

MUSKRAT Can we make it to Launch Point? ROCKET MAN Not a chance. Shit! MUSKRAT Not a damn place to hide. Range 30,

ROCKET MAN They've launched missiles. closing fast.

MUSKRAT Max counters and fire missiles! Missiles fired. ROCKET MAN Their missile's still holding track. Evasive maneuver now or we've had it! Damn it. MUSKRAT

He reluctantly gives in with a hard bank, followed by his wingman.

127

ROCKET MAN Missile closing. Five miles... Four... Three... It's gonna be close! (beat) Son-of-a-bitch, they got Charlie, but we got one of 'em. INTERCUT - WINGMAN Smoke trails from simulation pack. MUSKRAT Let's do somethin' useful and take the other one out. He goes full afterburner and climbs to meet F-14. INTERCUT - AIRCRAFT CARRIER CIC - action from Navy Perspective. Admiral gloats, thinking the threat is eliminated.

128

EXT. FLIGHT OF FOUR F-15E's LED BY BOWMAN - DAY ESTABLISH Flight of four F-15E's on the deck in very tight formation. INTERCUT - INT. F-15E BOWMAN Statue of Liberty on one. one, break! Three... two...

Two F-15E's peel off in extreme tight "shadow" formation. The other two F-15E's hold course. INT. CARRIER - SITUATION ROOM - DAY Radar indicates Bogeys splitting course. RADAR OPERATOR Bogeys one and two broken off. Bogey one heading for Cruiser. Bogey two still coming at us. here's something wrong. The image looks kinda' fuzzy. Fuzzy? CAPTAIN I want the CAP on Bogey Two!

129

CONTROLLER Town House to Ranger Flight, vector 1-7-3, intercept bogey. TRUMAN (V.O.) Roger Town House, vectoring 1-7-3, we're on it. Tracks marked on Situation Display. INT. AEGIS CRUISER - WEAPONS CONTROL ROOM - DAY Display shows single bogey approaching target. CAPTAIN Launch missile! WEAPONS OPERATOR Missile launched. INT. ROCKO'S F-15E - DAY MERLIN They've launched. Time to cut.

130

ROCKO Full ECM on my mark and break. Three, two, one, mark. EXT. FLIGHT OF TWO F-15E's - DAY Flares and chaff are released from both planes. hard right; Sweat Hog goes hard left. INT. AEGIS CRUISER - WEAPONS CONTROL ROOM - DAY Display shows single Bogey, then it breaks into two. RADAR OPERATOR Bandit destroyed -- holy shit. Another one's out there. CAPTAIN Fire missile! WEAPONS OPERATOR Missile launched! ROCKO breaks

131

INT. ROCKO'S F-15E - DAY ROCKO For Christ sake, give me a lock. MERLIN Almost there, almost there, almost... ready to fire... Suddenly his radar screen lights up. MERLIN (continued) We're dead. ROCKO Son-of-a-bitch! INT. CARRIER SITUATION ROOM - DAY. COMMUNICATIONS OPERATOR Threat against cruiser is over. Admiral signs with noticeable relief.

132

ADMIRAL Running out of planes, General? Eisner keeps a poker face. RADAR OPERATOR Bandit approaching. ADMIRAL Where the hell is air cover? EXT. FLIGHT OF TWO F-14's FLYING CAP - DAY Establish F-14's. INT. F-14 - DAY F-14 WIZZO I have him. Range 90 miles. F-14 PILOT I'm going for him. Truman, you're back-up. Lead F-14 peels off.

133

INT. BOWMAN's F-15E - DAY SNAKE (WIZZO) Bandit coming at us. BOWMAN Time to run interference. Wade, I'm goin' after him. It's yours. Don't screw it up! INTERCUT - WADE'S F-15E. WADE One duck under glass. EXT. FLIGHT OF TWO F-15Es - DAY Bowman breaks formation and starts to climb. on course. Wade goes full afterburner. Mach One. Wade continues

THUNDEROUS sound as she passes

INTERCUT Bowman taking out first F-14, but Truman gets Bowman, and then turns to go after Wade.

134

Wade is on the deck racing toward Carrier. distance to the target. ROB Ten miles to Launch. radar.

Rob marks closing

We are locked on their

INTERCUT - CARRIER, SITUATION ROOM Radar Operator reads off distance of Bogey and pursuing F-14. Crew tenses as Bogey gets close to "in-range". Just as Wade is about to get in range, Tomcat drops in on her tail. Truman gets Wade in her sights. TRUMAN Splash one Eagle. INSERT - gloved hand activating weapons. ROB Break now or we're dead. Screw it! WADE Fire the missiles!

135

Wade fires anti-ship missile simultaneous with Truman firing. CHEERS in Situation Room at report "Bogey destroyed!" We're dead! Wade is devastated. CENTRAL CONTROL (V.O.) Anti-ship missile fired prior to destruction of aircraft. (beat) Direct hit scored on carrier. Jubilation in Situation Room turns to dismay. Wade and Rob are ecstatic. BOWMAN Way to go, Wade! REACTION ON Truman. Smashes console in anger. REACTION ON disgusted Admiral Zumont. EISNER It pays to dream. ROB

136

Strike Eagles join up in triumphant flyby of Carrier. EXT. CARRIER FLIGHT DECK - DAY POV LANDING CONTROL OFFICER (LCO) as Two F-14's make routine landings. INTERCUT TO Truman F-14 on final approach to carrier. Truman is tense and strained. LCO Ranger Two, you are low and slow. Let's pick it up. Truman gives more throttle. LCO Ranger Two, you're still low and slow. Give the bird some gas. Truman struggles for control. seater. REACTION on very nervous back-

137

LCO I'm waiting, Ranger Two. You're out of the groove. (to Assistant LCO) She couldn't find a groove if you wiped her butt in it. (into mike) Go around, go around. Ranger Two, you are waved off. Truman slams throttles full forward. INSERT CLOSE ON Spinning Blades of Engine. HIGH PITCHED sound as blades accelerate, then break apart. Truman's plane starts to pitch up, and out of control. She struggles with throttle and stick. LCO Sound emergency! Alarm KLAXON reverberates through the ship. Truman's plane seems to hover by its tail, just above the water, then flips over, slamming into the ocean.

138

REACTION ON Truman struggling to get out of cockpit as water fills around her and plane quickly sinks. Sea Hawk swoops over crash site and DIVERS jump in. INT. CARRIER SITUATION ROOM - DAY Everyone waits anxiously to hear report from Rescue Chopper. ADMIRAL Damn it, man, did you get them? COPTER PILOT (V.O.) Sir, it went down too fast. There was nothing we could do. INT. F-15E - DUSK Wade is listening intently to RESCUE CHATTER as she cruises along in formation with rest of Flight. ADMIRAL (V.O.) Who was it? Who was in the Plane? COPTER PILOT (V.O.) It was Truman. Truman and Hayes.

139

INTERCUT - stunned REACTIONS on Wade and Admiral. EXT. FLIGHT OF F-15E's - DUSK Wade's plane wavers and falls out of formation. BOWMAN Wade, pull it in! Get in formation!

Wade falls far away from the other planes. BOWMAN (continued) Damn you, Wade, get your ass up here! Wade? ROB Wade! Pull it in!

Wade is bleary eyed. ROB (continued) Come on, Wade. Pull it in! He jiggles the stick. Finally, Wade snaps out of it.

140

WADE It's okay. I got it. got it!

I said it's okay!

I

In the rear view Rob sees her fighting back the tears as she maneuvers into formation. EXT. CARRIER DECK, IN PORT - DAY Crew of Carrier along with Zoe and Strike Eagle Crews are assembled on deck for Memorial Service. Wade deeply feels the loss. Bowman studies her closely. ADMIRAL Let there be no mistake: in peace or war, you men and women who serve our country do so with every measure of your being. Our comrades, Lt. Truman and Lt. Hayes, served bravely and have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all those whose world they have helped make safer. We salute them. HONOR GUARD fires twenty-four gun salute. of F-14's. MISSING MAN Flyby

141

INT. OFFICER'S CLUB - OSAKA - NIGHT Air Force and Navy Officers celebrate end of exercise. Wade and Zoe sit morbidly in a corner drinking. A chastened Dragon counts out a thousand bucks on the bar while a victorious Bowman looks on. BOWMAN Like takin' candy from a baby. Wade and Zoe look up from their drinks. DRAGON You were lucky it was Truman. Anyone else and you wouldn't have gotten the shot. Frankly, they had no business lettin' her fly Tomcats. BOWMAN Nobody ever accused the Navy of being smart.

142

ZOE What the hell's 'a matter with you people? She was a shipmate. Don't you even give a damn? DRAGON Hey, we give a damn! Truman was a real nice kid, and she worked hard. But we're not talkin' about that. Up there it's all business! ZOE Business? WADE Easy, sis. They're right. Landing on a carrier is as hard as it gets, and Truman blew it. DRAGON She understands. WADE But she wasn't the first to crash and burn on a deck.

143

BOWMAN You got a point, Wade, but it's not about that. WADE What is it, then? did mine. What? Lucky shot. DRAGON She did her mission. I

BOWMAN It's cold and the air is thin. WADE Cut the Zen crap and get to the POINT. BOWMAN There's no room here for emotions and the fact is, you can't handle yours! ZOE Convenient for your little boys' club, you get born with membership between your legs. WADE This is a waste.

144

ZOE The only way she's good enough is to get herself killed with a smile on her face? Too bad it didn't buy Truman a membership. Wade and Bowman exchange a cold stare. Suddenly, she turns away, barely able to fight back the pain, but not wanting to show it. Damn you! WADE Damn you all! Even Zoe is surprised, but hurries

She heads for the door. to follow her.

At the door, Rob blocks their way. ROB I want you to know... I've been there with you, and I'll go anywhere you want'a fly. WADE Yeah, sure! Tell it to your boys back there. Wade and Zoe storm out, leaving Rob confused and hurt.

145

EXT. MILLER FALLS AFB - DAY Six F-15E's pull up to ramp area and stop. A greeting party awaits them with a big banner: "AIR FORCE BEATS NAVY". Military BAND plays the "Air Force Song." The Base Commander greets and congratulates the joyous and excited crews, but Wade is not rejoicing. INT. G-FORCE TESTER - DAY VIDEO IMAGE of Wade in centrifuge practicing GRUNTING. Wade is exhausted from the exertion. SYSTEM OPERATOR (V.O.) Last month you did ten g's, now only eight? You know the drill: you do at least nine or you're dead every time! Another go? WADE I think I'll pass right now.

146

SYSTEM OPERATOR Next time, imagine you have a corncob stuck up there and you're tryin' to get it out. WADE I'm allergic to corn. SYSTEM OPERATOR Then imagine whatever fuckin’ works for you, but get focused! And stay focused! INT. BASE COMMISSARY [SUPERMARKET] - DAY Wade is aimlessly pushing shopping cart, empty except for a large tub of ice cream. As she turns a corner, she crashes into Betty's (Jake's wife) cart. Oh! Sorry. WADE

BETTY Why don't you watch where you're...

147

(struggles with kids) ...Janet? Gee, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... The kids and everything. It's really been a day. Hey, look, why don't you come over for dinner? WADE Betty? Thanks, but, really, I have an early schedule. BETTY (a nod to the kids) I know all about those. Come on, you have to eat. You could use something more - than ice cream. WADE It's my new high-fat diet. BETTY I can tell. That flight suit's looking snug. You could use a home cooked meal, and I could use some adult company. Please. WADE Okay - sure. What can I bring?

148

BETTY Ice-cream? INT. JAKE ROGER'S HOME, KITCHEN - NIGHT Wade is washing the dishes. Betty comes in.

BETTY Finally, they're asleep. At last I can hear myself think. Oh, don't bother with that. WADE I don't mind. BETTY Ever hear of dishwashers? (loading dishwasher) After dinner drink? WADE Sounds good. Betty opens a cupboard and prepares drinks.

149

BETTY As they say: "Bombs away". She quickly downs it, pours another, and downs that. WADE (surprised) Goin' for altitude, huh? BETTY It takes the edge off. WADE I'll go for that. They silently contemplate their drink until Betty gets up courage. BETTY You heard anything from Jake? WADE Jake? No. Squadron buzz is it's been pretty routine over there. Haven't you heard from him?

150

BETTY (tipsy) Letter a day. Calls twice a week. (edgy) I'm surprised you haven't heard from him, you know, you bein' such friends and all. WADE You got somethin' on your mind? BETTY Should I? You're a smart, pretty girl. I'm not stupid. WADE Wait a second. If you're thinkin' somethin', you are way off base. (leaving) I think maybe I ought to be going. BETTY (frightened) No wait. Please. But

151

(takes Wade's hand) I didn't mean anything. It's just -- Jake and I, we've been together all our lives. I've never known anyone else. No one at all. WADE If you're thinkin'... look, you don't have to worry about me. There is nothing between us. Betty looks at her with a need Wade doesn't quite understand. Still, Wade puts her arm around Betty's shoulder in an awkward attempt at giving comfort. INT. F-15E COCKPIT - NIGHT FIRE WARNING lights up on control panel. Wade begins flipping switches in reaction. LOW OIL PRESSURE INDICATOR lights up. More reaction from Wade. Flame out on ENGINE #1! fighting for control. Flame out on ENGINE #2! Wade keeps

MISSILE-LOCK ALARM sounds!

152

WADE Okay, that's it! Canopy comes up to REVEAL it's only a simulator. Bowman sits at operator console, disappointed, but not surprised with Wade's performance. Gray stands nearby GRAY Wade. Yes, Sir. WADE

Gray indicates for her to follow him out of the Sim Room, as Bowman watches with a coldly satisfied stare. INT. SIM BUILDING - HALLWAY - DAY Wade follows Gray a short distance down the hallway. GRAY (turning on Wade) My twelve year old has done better in the Sim than that.

153

Sir...

WADE

GRAY No excuses. We don't get second chances. Can't cut it in the Sim, you don't have a chance up there. WADE That was not a fair test. Nobody could have dealt with everything that was thrown at me, nobody. GRAY That's the problem, you stopped dealing with it. You gave up! WADE I was dead. GRAY What's happened to you? If it's that Navy pilot, get over it. I'm tired of making allowances. WADE Allowances?

154

GRAY Either get to speed or stop wasting my time. You got my meaning? INT. PHOTO RECON ANALYSIS SECTION - DAY ESTABLISH Satellite Photo of small TOWN in Serbia. CLOSER on what might be a hidden Missile site. REVEAL Air Force PHOTO ANALYST examining photo. PHOTO ANALYST Excuse me, Sir. Could you take a look at this photo over Bosnia. The CAPTAIN comes over and examines photo. So? CAPTAIN

PHOTO ANALYST Here, it could be an AA missile hidden in the town. An SA-17?

155

CAPTAIN The Ruskies most advanced Surface-to- Air Missile? The Reds don't even have them deployed yet. PHOTO ANALYST If it is SA-17's it’s a major threat to the cover flights. CAPTAIN Very well. Send it to European Central Command. PHOTO ANALYST Sir, shouldn't we send a flash notice to operational units? CAPTAIN I can't cry wolf at every shadow -- okay, take a high resolution shot on the next Milstar pass. PHOTO ANALYST That's not for another hour. CAPTAIN Sergeant, just do it!

156

EXT. BOSNIAN SERB TOWN - DAY Market in town square is filled with activity. Smartly uniformed Col. General DUVNICOFF walks from market with basket of goods and turns down side street. A ball from playing children passes near him and he kicks it back with a smile. He watches for a moment, then continues on past a CHURCH and into a COURTYARD. INT. LARGE COURTYARD - DAY Duvnicoff walks past sentry and into courtyard covered over by camouflage. He's met by JUNIOR OFFICER. JUNIOR OFFICER Two aircraft are attacking our artillery positions above Tuzla. We have them on Radar. REVEAL high-tech MOBILE RADAR UNIT (MRU), and nearby, a MOBILE CONTROL UNIT (MCU). Duvnicoff quickly continues to the MCU and enters.

157

INT. MCU - DAY Ultra high-tech control room. several Radar displays. On Radar screen, two BLIPS. DUVNICOFF Report! OPERATOR Two targets. Range 9-3 kilometers, altitude 4,000 meters. BLIPS moving closer to screen center. OPERATOR (continued) Range 8-7 kilometers, altitude 4,000 meters, speed four fifty. Duvnicoff focuses more closely on screen. DUVNICOFF Prepare to fire missiles. OPERATORS closely monitor the

158

Operator looks at him with great concern, but turns back to his job at a commanding nod from Duvnicoff. DUVNICOFF (continued) PREPARE TO FIRE MISSILES! Operator presses series of controls. EXT. FOREST CLEARING, MOBILE MISSILE (MMB) - DAY Soldiers race to remove camouflage covering MMB and prepare missiles for launch. INTERCUT - INT. MISSILE CONTROL UNIT CONTROLLER Enemy Target 4-1 Kilometers, altitude 8,000 meters, speed five hundred. Duvnicoff stays focused on displays. CONTROLLER The missiles are locked on target.

159

DUVNICOFF Very well. Fire missiles. INTERCUT - EXT. MOBILE MISSILE BATTERY Missiles fired. On the Radar screen, Missile approaches target. the signals disappear. CONTROLLER (to Duvnicoff) The target is destroyed. DUVNICOFF Very well. INT. JAKE'S HOME - SUNSET. Wade is playing in the family room with the two boys. They're engaged in mock air battles with model planes. Betty in kitchen putting finishing touches on birthday cake. The Baby is intently watching her when the doorbell RINGS. With a flash

160

WADE I can get that. Betty merrily walks past living room to front door. Sit. BETTY I'll get it.

Betty opens door. For a long moment her big smile hangs on her face. Then confusion. Then realization. Her face strains as she tries to fight back the tears. Gray, Genway, and FEMALE SERGEANT stand at door, the look on their faces makes their purpose apparent. No. No. BETTY No. Please, God, no.

She steps away, falling against the wall for support. BETTY (continued) Not Jake. Please, no. Wade comes from family room. She sees Betty sobbing.

161

WADE What's going on? GRAY Mrs. Rogers, I'm very, very sorry. Genway steps forward to give comfort, but Betty angrily pushes the outstretched hand away. Wade and Gray exchange a look until Wade understands. The two boys run into the hallway in playful pursuit. The older comes to abrupt stop, bewildered by the scene, while the younger continues in play, oblivious. Wade goes to boys and crouches down to hold them. to the Sergeant and she steps toward them. Gray nods

GRAY Wade, you need to return to base. The Major will take care of things here. Wade can't let go of the boys. fights back her tears. Captain. GRAY Hidden from the others, she

162

Wade reluctantly pulls herself away. As she walks to the door, she pauses by Betty, crouched on the floor. WADE I'm so sorry. Gray has walked out to staff car. Wade begins to follow but stops at doorway. She looks back at Betty, wanting to do something more, then towards Gray. She makes her decision and follows out to the car. EXT. ROGER'S DRIVEWAY NIGHT

Gray is about to get in the car when Wade catches up. I'm going! Gray ignores her. WADE (continued) We're sending more planes over there, aren't we? I wanna go. WADE

163

Gray It's not revenge and you're not ready. WADE I am ready! GRAY Jake was as good as they get, so don't tell me you're ready. WADE Afraid something might happen to me? Because I'm a woman? Or just afraid I might actually prove myself? GRAY You're out of line, Captain. situation, I'll forget this. car. Because of the Get in the

For a moment Wade stares him down, then gives in. INT. SQUADRON BRIEFING ROOM - NIGHT The Squadron listens intently as Gray gives briefing.

164

GRAY Rogers was hit by an SA-17. This is a new one. Not even the Russian army has it operational. "A" Flight, you'll deploy in forty eight hours. As briefing breaks up, "A" Flight crews show usual bravado at being sent to war. Wade heads toward Gray. GRAY Don't even think about it. Gray leaves the room. Wade is about to smash the wall with her fist, but abruptly stops herself. INT. WADE'S QUARTERS - NIGHT She angrily throws down her

Wade comes into darkened room. flight bag. WADE Son-of-a-bitch! Not hardly. ZOE

165

Wade searches the darkness. Zoe?

Zoe is lying on the bed.

WADE What are you doing here?

ZOE (nonchalantly) I was fired. Something about not fitting in over there. Figures. WADE

ZOE Thanks --good seein' you too. Sorry. WADE It's - it's been a day.

ZOE The guys on the news? Deeply pained look from Wade confirms. ZOE (continued) I'm sorry.

166

WADE Jake had a wife, three kids. Nicest people you ever wanna know. First Truman, now him. Zoe holds her as Wade lets go her tears. WADE (continued) The colonel was right. this. So who is? ZOE

I'm not ready for

WADE It's not just losing friends. It's about killing people, 'cause really, that's what this job is all about. ZOE Isn't it keeping people from being killed? That sound trite?

167

Drop a death? to his people

WADE bomb, save the world, die a hero's Tell it to Truman and Jake. Tell it wife and kids, and tell it to the who don't give a damn!

ZOË They were doin' what they wanted -- at least up there you get a shorter trip to heaven, if you believe in that sort of thing. Zoë picks up the picture of their grandmother. WADE More likely a longer trip to hell. ZOE You don't have much choice. Wade looks at her in confusion - notices the picture of her grandmother.

168

ZOE (continued) I'm saying if you don't at least try to live your dreams, you're gonna wind up living with a lot of regrets. WADE Look what it got her. She was as good a damn pilot as they come. But as soon as is it was over she couldn’t even get a job flying crop dusters. ZOE She lived her dreams - to the best she could. Because of her, now you have chance. You’re here ‘cause she and a lot of people like her never gave up. Wade begins wiping away her tears, smearing her make-up. walks to the wall mirror. WADE (looking in mirror) Some fighter pilot I am. She

169

ZOE That's exactly what you are. Have you seen this? (hands news clipping) Truman's accident was mechanical, not pilot error. WADE Go ride the beast? ZOE Not just ride it. throw you off! INT. WADE'S OFFICE - DAY Wade stares at Jake's empty desk. Finally, she makes up her mind and picks up the phone to dial. WADE Would you tell General Pierce, Captain Wade is calling, Janet Wade? INTERCUT - INT. GENERAL TONY PIERCE'S OFFICE. Is that it? Dare the son-of-bitch to

170

Name plate on desk indicates "Commander, Air Force Systems Command." REVEAL Pierce is an African-American female. Above her chest of ribbons are pilot's wings. SECRETARY (V.O.) A Captain Janet Wade on line two. Pierce looks up from her work, surprised but curious. PIERCE Tell her -- never mind. (picks up phone) Janet. This has been a long time. WADE Yes ma'am -- General, I need to ask you for something. PIERCE No call since graduating the Academy? WADE I'm sorry. PIERCE What is it you want?

171

WADE I need to be assigned with my squadron -- to Bosnia. PIERCE (irritated) That's a matter for your commander. WADE You taught me at the Academy to give it everything, be the best. I figured flying the pants off everyone would make me a fighter pilot. Pierce looks at a picture of her younger self in flight gear standing in front of a giant C-5A transport plane. WADE (continued) It's not enough. PIERCE You think going to Bosnia is?

172

WADE It's time in the barrel. Even if it's not much of a war, it's the only way to get respect! You know that. PIERCE (considering) If you screw this up, my ass is out to dry along with every woman who ever dreamed of sitting in that seat? WADE I won't screw up! EXT. FLIGHT LINE - DAY Wade is busy inspecting a load of ordinance. behind her. Wade. Yes, Sir? GRAY WADE Gray comes up I promise you!

173

Gray hands her a communication. Wade is confused but reads it to herself. Confusion turns to a smile. GRAY Pack your bags. Get with "A" flight. However you pulled this off, I stand by my call: you're not ready. People like you don't belong out there. WADE Don't you mean women like me, Sir? GRAY No, Wade, I mean you, just you! INT. WADE'S ROOM, MILLER FALLS AFB - DAY Wade is busy packing when Genway comes by. GENWAY Hi. WADE (without stopping) Hi.

174

GENWAY You got what you wanted. Wade gives her an uncertain look. GENWAY (continued) The notch on your gun. WADE I didn't make the rules around here. If this is what it takes to prove myself, this is what I'll do! GENWAY That's what this is about, proving you're better than them? WADE No! It's proving I'm one of them. EXT. SKIES OVER BOSNIA, TWO F-15E's - DAY Bowman and Wade are cruising at altitude. loaded with bombs. They are heavily

175

BOWMAN Okay, Wade, we'll do this slow, easy, and by the book. Follow me in. WADE Roger, I'm on your six. The two planes bank into attack on Serb Artillery position. In turn, they release bombs and pull out. Serb Artillery site is devastated by EXPLOSIONS. As Wade joins Bowman, she notices he has a hung bomb. BOWMAN Well, Wade, you just got to blow some people away like the rest of us. How's it feel? WADE Ranger Two to Ranger Leader. I'll let you know after you get rid of the hung bomb on your right side. Bowman looks over his shoulder to see dangling bomb. tries several times to release it. He

176

No dice.

WADE It's still hangin'.

BOWMAN We'll just have to take it back with us. Go to military formation. Take high road. I wouldn't want to drop it on you. Wade climbs high above and away from Bowman, but close enough to keep him in sight. As they cruise along, RADAR SCAN ALARM momentarily goes off in each plane. WADE Did you see that? BOWMAN Stay alert. Give it some active wide band ECM. Throw a little chaff out there to keep'm lookin'. Roger that. WADE Chaff and Flares scatter out of

Rob makes some adjustments. plane's rear.

177

INT. MCU - DAY Radar Operator is tracking two planes on scope. Duvnicoff is intently looking over his shoulder when a MESSENGER hands him a communique. DUVNICOFF (reads then crumples message) The Americans have destroyed artillery positions defending Sudiawill. Prepare missiles. Suddenly, the screens go fuzzy. DUVNICOFF What is it? GET THEM BACK! Radar Operator makes adjustments to his equipment. clears and the targets are back in focus. DUVNICOFF All right. Good. Screen

178

RADAR OPERATOR They were attempting to jam but I have made necessary adjustments. DUVNICOFF Prepare to fire -- Fire missile! EXT. SKIES OVER BOSNIA, TWO F-15E's - DAY The two planes are flying in loose military formation. Crews intently search the sky for missiles. Suddenly, missile alarm sounds. WADE Where is it, where is it? ROB I got him. It's locked on Bowman. WADE Bowman, break left, break left!

179

Wade, torn with indecision, watches from above as Bowman goes into evasive maneuvers. Snake (Bowman's WIZZO) frantically works the ECM, sending out flares and chaff, but the SAM-17 keeps closing on them. WADE He can't turn the "G's" with the hung bomb. I'm going in on him. Wade goes full afterburner and dives toward missile. gets thrown back in his seat. Doing what? ROB Rob

WADE It's his only chance. You with me? ROB Do I have a choice? Wade dives on the missile, passing rear of Bowman. Snake turns his head sharply to catch Wade racing past. SAM turns course and bores down on Wade.

180

SNAKE What the hell? Wade just cut past us. SAM's turned on Wade. BOWMAN The stupid, dumb bitch! Wade and SAM on collision course. ROB Now what? WADE Fire missiles! Throw everything! Missiles away. Sidewinder and SAM converge. Wade turns 9g's. She's on edge of blackout.

The

At last moment,

Missiles EXPLODE head-on, but the plane is caught in the blast. Rob is injured. Wade fights for control. WADE We're losing it. Gotta punch out. I'm hit. ROB

181

WADE Can you punch it? ROB I'll make it. Here we go! WADE Canopy

Wade takes the position, then pulls the ejection. blows away, then Rob, then Wade.

Bowman watches as Wade's plane dives into a flaming crash. BOWMAN See any chutes? See anything? SNAKE Nothing. BOWMAN Keep looking! Squawk a mayday! SNAKE I'm tellin' you there's nothin'!

182

Damn her! into it?

BOWMAN Why in hell did she have to turn

Radar scope lights up. SNAKE We’re painted on Radar. We gotta get out of here before we're NEXT. Bowman ignores him. SNAKE (continued) Bowman, we got to get the hell out of here, now! BOWMAN (reluctantly) Okay, I'm goin'. They bank for home. EXT. DENSE WOODED AREA - DAY

183

Rob dangles from his chute nearly unconscious as he crashes through thick trees and lands hard. Wade maneuvers chute to nearby clearing. She quickly unbuckles, gathers her chute and heads towards Rob. She finds him lying on the ground in bad shape. Oh, God! WADE Rob. Rob! Where you hurt?

ROB (in pain) Everywhere. Wade applies compresses and gives morphine. WADE Can you walk? ROB (between coughs) Walk? I can't even breathe. He gives a pained laugh.

184

WADE Okay, I'm carrying you. Wade lies down and rolls him on her back, then struggles to her feet in a fireman's carry. Rob grimaces in pain. WADE You're definitely going on a diet. They struggle through brush until they come to an outcropping of rocks overgrown with thick bushes. WADE We're home. Come on, stay with me. Wade sets him down and drags him through brush under an overhang of rock. She digs out dirt to give more cover, then covers him with leaves. Finally, she goes back to cover their tracks with the sweep of a branch. As Wade finishes covering tracks, she hears Serbian troops approaching. She races back to the hiding place and closes the bushes around them. Peering through the bush, Wade sees approaching soldiers.

185

ROB (fighting the pain) What is it? Shhhh. WADE

Slow and deliberate, Wade pulls out her pistol, and cocks the first round, causing a seemingly deafening CLICK. Wade is startled by the sound. Serbian Soldier pauses at edge of view, then moves toward the hiding place, searching for sound he might have heard. But at the SNAPPING of a TWIG by another soldier, he moves on, giving Wade a sigh of relief. INT. GRAY'S OFFICE, ORFINI AB, ITALY - DAY Gray slams a book down on his desk. at stiff attention. GRAY Damn son-of-a-bitch! BOWMAN What was I supposed to do? Bowman and Snake stand

186

GRAY You could have gotten yourself blown away instead of her. Better for both of us if you did. BOWMAN I had a hung bomb! There was nothing I could do. She must have panicked and turned into it. I knew this would happen. GRAY Two of my crew are lost and I want them back! I'm putting you in charge of rescue efforts. I want a Marine team on alert. I want round the clock flights and full intel coverage. A frog shits out there and I want to know about it. Get them back, Major. Yes, Sir! Bowman and Snake about face and leave. Gray stares out the window with rain washing across his view. That's an order.

BOWMAN

187

INT. GENERAL TONY PIERCE'S OFFICE - DAY Pierce sits at her desk busy at work when her Secretary comes in holding a communiqué. SECRETARY General, I thought you might want to see this. It's about Captain Wade. Pierce reads the note, pauses for it to sink in, then crumples it in dismay. EXT. E-8A JOINT STARS (JOINT SURVEILLANCE AND TARGET ATTACK RADAR SYSTEM AIRCRAFT) - NIGHT ESTABLISH E-8A flying through night sky. sensors bristling from the aircraft. INT. E-8A JOINT STARS - NIGHT TACTICAL COMMANDER (TC) at desk talking on phone. PAN Array of

188

TC Yes, sir -- understood -- yes, sir -- roger that, sir! TC hangs up phone and moves through darkened cabin past several manned control consoles. Operators peer over consoles displaying the ground situation. TC (to operators) An Air Force F-15E is down in this area. Status unknown. Monitor any troop movements and keep alert for emergency transmissions. EXT. GROUND, BOSNIA - RAINY - NIGHT Wade is hunched over Rob giving him first aid, but he's not doing well. She checks for enemy troops. WADE I'm goin' out to try for radio contact, so just sit tight. ROB Don't leave. Please, it's hurtin' bad, real bad.

189

WADE You gotta hang in. promise.

I'll be right back, I

Wade cautiously makes her way from the hiding place, until she's a safe distance away. She crouches to listen. A faint SOUND. Is it a high flying plane?

WADE (into radio, sotto) Ranger echo 2-7-1. Ranger echo 2-7-1. you copy? Ranger echo 2-7-1, come in, please. INT. F-15E, FLYING OVER BOSNIA - NIGHT Bowman and Snake search through the darkness. BOWMAN Anything? SNAKE Nothing -- wait a second.

Do

190

WADE (V.O.) Ranger echo 2-7-1. Ranger echo 2-7-1. Do you copy, do you copy? Come in! Ranger echo 2-7-1, come in, please. BOWMAN Her? SNAKE You're broken up. again. Say again. Repeat, say

EXT. GROUND, BOSNIA - RAINY - NIGHT Wade hears a broken message from the plane. WADE Say again. Say again. Damn it --Ranger echo 2-7-1, come in, please. Come in. Wade hears sound of BREAKING TWIG. Her senses go full alert. She puts away radio, and heads back to Rob. She hears Rob's moans. Enemy SOLDIER is investigating. Wade sneaks around behind Soldier.

191

As he peers into the hideout, she SMASHES him with a rock, sending him reeling backwards. But he's only stunned and as he lies on his back, he looks up at her, then makes the move for his gun. Wade has no choice. She leaps at him with her knife. They exchange an instant's look, then to both their horror, she plunges her survival knife into his chest. He cries out and Wade has no choice but to plunge the knife in again while trying to muffle his screams. Her face contorts in revulsion as she fights against his struggles until finally, he's motionless. Wade sees he's only a teenager, adding to her horror. She stumbles away in disgust, but she's backed against a tree and forced to look at him. Against the reality of face-to-face death, her stomach sickens and her breathing is panicked. As her first hint of composure returns, she tries to wipe his blood from her uniform, but then she hears a MOAN. For a terrifying instant, Wade thinks it's from the Soldier, then thankfully realizes it's Rob.

192

Tentative at first, then with the urgency of the situation, she goes about the business of hiding the body. She hastily covers her tracks and returns with his weapons and supplies back to the hideout. Rob's in bad shape, only half conscious. She looks at his wounds and realizes he's running out of time. She holds the radio, her trembling finger poised on the "automatic beacon switch". Don't. ROB

After considering the implications, she flips the switch. WADE (sotto) Someone will find us. INT. F-15E, FLYING OVER BOSNIA - NIGHT Crew intently listening to radio.

193

BOWMAN (excited) Did you get it? SNAKE I couldn't make it out too well, but it must be her. I got a fix. BOWMAN Send it to base. INT. BOSNIAN SERB COMMAND BUNKER - NIGHT Frenzy of activity inside Bunker. A soldier comes in and hands note to OFFICER. COMMANDER continues working. OFFICER (to Commander) A sentry has missed reporting in. COMMANDER Where?

194

OFFICER (pointing on map) Here! We've also picked up radio transmissions. COMMANDER This is where the American Plane went down. It is only ten kilometers away. Send a full company of men, right away. Search everything! OFFICER Very good. NOW! Yes, sir! INT. BLACKHAWK HELICOPTER, FLYING OVER OCEAN - NIGHT Helicopter is filled with fully armed Marines. panel reflects in the front windshield. The control COMMANDER OFFICER

195

CENTRAL COMMAND (V.O.) Top Hat to all Echo Romeo units. We have possible contact. Proceed to point 2-7-8 zebra niner. PILOT Roger, Top Hat. Proceeding 2-7-8 zebra niner. EXT. BLACKHAWK HELICOPTER - NIGHT Blackhawk banks hard, followed by two other Blackhawks and four Apache Gun Ships. The entire flight passes over the beach and heads inland. EXT. BOSNIA, GROUND - MIST - EARLY MORNING Three truck loads of Serb troops led by a command vehicle come to a stop along dirt road. An OFFICER barks orders as Troops quickly dismount and scatter into forest.

196

Wade hears sounds of TROOP MOVEMENTS. She peers out to see Serb Soldiers approaching through woods. She's tense and nervous, but with a final deep breath, readies herself to fire on the first to come under her sights. Then, as she's about to open fire: EXPLOSION. APACHE GUNSHIP rises above tree tops and sprays approaching Serb Troops with machine gun fire. In low pass, F-15E's devastate Trucks with 30mm fire. Marines come out of forest with guns blazing. As they approach her position, Wade, in utter relief and exhaustion, leans back, and closes her eyes in thanks. YOUNG MARINE reaches her and sees all the blood. examines for wounds. What the... YOUNG MARINE He urgently

Wade opens her eyes with a start and Young Marine has a sudden awakening. WADE Glad you're here, but not that glad. it back, I'm real glad. I take

197

Embarrassed Marine steps away as Medic Team arrives. YOUNG MARINE I'm sorry, ma'am. I didn't realize. WADE Believe me, I wouldn't worry about it right now. Medic tries to check her over. WADE (continued) I'm okay, but he's in bad shape. Young Marine gently forces her away as Medics go to work on Rob. Forward Marine Elements begin returning under covering fire. Serb Troops are in cautious pursuit. Small arms fire strikes around the position. MARINE COMMANDER Let's go, people, back to the LZ. Pack it up. Move it! Move it!

198

Medical Team carries Rob on a stretcher towards LZ. As the Young Marine leads Wade along, he's suddenly struck in the head by a bullet and falls to the ground. Wade is in momentary shock. Another Marine quickly takes hold of her and pushes her into the Helicopter, while Other Marines lift the body of their fallen comrade inside. Medic tends to Young Marine until accepting he's DOA. ANGLE ON Wade as the Helicopter lifts off. She sits motionless in stunned silence, staring at the body of the Young Marine as it sways lifelessly with the rocking movement of the helicopter. Medical team continues working on Rob for his life. INT. GRAY'S OFFICE, ORFINI AB, ITALY - DAY Wade stands at attention as Gray covers his anger. GRAY How you feeling? a tough ordeal. Get some rest? You've had

199

WADE I'm fine, Sir. GRAY (holding report) According to Major Bowman, the missile was locked on him. He was doing evasive maneuvers and ECM. Yes, Sir. WADE

GRAY You turned into the missile and it locked on you. WADE Yes, Sir. GRAY The missile struck your plane and you and Rob ejected. No, Sir. WADE

200

Gray gives her a questioning look. WADE (continued) I hit it with a Sidewinder. caught some blast.

We must have

GRAY Major Bowman thinks you panicked and turned the wrong way into it. WADE (stunned) No, Sir. Major Bowman had a hung bomb. He had no chance. I had angle on it, and I thought I could take out the missile. GRAY You want me to believe you went head on with a SAM, not to mention... (looks at report) this hand-to-hand crap? Who are you kidding? WADE I did what I had to.

201

GRAY You're either the dumbest pilot I know, the luckiest, or a damn liar. WADE (taken aback) All due respect, Sir, I resent that. I was trying to do my job and to survive, that's all! GRAY We lost a plane, a dead marine, and maybe Rob, and you say that's all! WADE I told you what happened! Gray probes deep into her eyes, not sure what to make of her story. He hands Wade some papers. GRAY You've been ordered stateside. WADE Stateside? Why? For how long?

202

GRAY I don't know. INT. HOSPITAL - INTENSIVE CARE UNIT - DAY ANGLE ON Wade standing in close to a bedside. WADE Can you believe it? There's no way I'm ever gettin' an even break. And talk about doin' dumb things, savin' that bastard's ass was the dumbest. (moments reflection) What the hell was I thinking? (beat) Maybe I wasn't thinking at all? (beat) Talk about fucking up... The facade over Wade's pain begins to crumble. PULLBACK to REVEAL Rob laying in coma and hooked to life support.

203

WADE (continued) Rob. I need you to pull through this. Don't let it end this way. Please, not with losing you, too. She holds his hand against her face, her eyes clenched tight in hard prayer and fighting back tears. INT. SERBIAN COMMAND BUNKER - NIGHT Serbian Officers are gathered around a large map table. Commander is briefing them. COMMANDER We are going to attack the two safe zones at Sarajevo and Tuzla. We will eliminate all UN forces. Surprised Reaction from everyone. JUNIOR OFFICER Defeat all the UN forces? The

204

COMMANDER Not all. We only have to take Sarajevo and Tuzla. The rest will leave after that. UNIT COMMANDER Take them hostage? COMMANDER No! We will not take prisoners. you to kill everyone! I expect

Shocked MURMUR until Duvnicoff steps forward. DUVNICOFF You are all brave soldiers. I know every one of you is ready to die for your homeland. But when an entire world is against us, the courage to die means nothing. It is the willingness to kill that is everything! Do you understand? The Officers are still not clear.

205

COMMANDER In Somalia, a few soldiers are killed and they run. So it will be in Serbia. It is our only chance. You will kill everyone, is that understood! EVERYONE! EXT. BOQ ORFINI, AB, ITALY - DAY - RAINING Wade is loading her bags into a military vehicle when Bowman pulls up in a HUMVEE and gets out. BOWMAN Headin' stateside? Wade ignores him as she continues loading. BOWMAN (continued) Colonel says they'll probably give you a medal. That's a good one: you get a medal for screwing up and Rob gets lucky if he lives. Wade continues ignoring him until he steps in front, blocking her path and putting them eye to eye.

206

BOWMAN (continued) I gave you every chance -- more than I should have. Why won't you admit you screwed up -- admit you just didn't belong up there? Wade resists answering, but finally succumbs. WADE You decided that from the beginning! BOWMAN We both know what happened! Wade removes sunglasses and looks him hard in the eyes. WADE You may think you know what happened, but you don't! So if you're looking for absolution, find it on your own. She gets in the car. WADE (continued; to driver) Get this thing out of here!

207

As she drives off, angry REACTION on Bowman. EXT. SARAJEVO - DAY Snowy, low overcast day. Citizens go about their routine business under watchful eye of UN Troops. Suddenly, WHISTLE of incoming artillery shell, followed by a large EXPLOSION. Bodies are scattered everywhere. People are running in panic. More EXPLOSIONS follow. Soldiers. UN ARMORED VEHICLE blown up. Dead UN

INT. HOSPITAL - INTENSIVE CARE UNIT - DAY Gray stands at Rob's bedside when Bowman comes in. BOWMAN How's he doin'? GRAY He's hangin' tough. Doctor gives him fair chances if he comes out of the coma.

208

NURSE comes into room. Colonel. Commander. NURSE You have a call from the Wing

Gray leaves room while Bowman moves closer to bedside. Rob's eyes move. He begins to come around, and finds himself staring up at Bowman. ROB Must be hell if I'm looking at you. BOWMAN It ain't hell, but it's damn close. Wade? ROB Where is she? Is she okay?

BOWMAN She's fine. She's headin' stateside. Gonna pin a medal on her for savin' your sorry ass.

209

ROB And savin' yours? BOWMAN Mine? ROB (struggling) SAM was headin' up your ass for sure. went for it. BOWMAN Went for it? Rob starts COUGHING. BOWMAN (continued) Take it easy. I'll get the nurse. ROB (self-satisfied) Put a Sidewinder down its throat. Bowman's eyes widen with sudden but full realization.

She

210

BOWMAN (sotto) She really did it. More COUGHING from Rob. BOWMAN (continued) Easy now, just take it easy. He motions to the nurse who hurries to the bedside. At the nurse's station, Gray puts down the phone and moves quickly towards Bowman. BOWMAN He's coming around. Gray nods with approval but doesn't break his pace. GRAY Let's go. Serbs are attacking Sarajevo and Tuzla in force. As they quick-time down the hallway: BOWMAN Colonel, about Wade...

211

GRAY Not now! BOWMAN You need to hear this -- I'm afraid I was wrong about what happened. Now Gray listens. INT. ORFINI AB, PASSENGER WAITING ROOM - DAY Wade sits staring into space. BOWMAN Captain. Wade turns to see it's Bowman. What now? WADE Outside is heavy rain.

BOWMAN Rob's okay. I thought you'd want to know.

212

WADE That's good. That's real good. BOWMAN Serbs are attacking Sarajevo and Tuzla. With this weather, we're the only ones who can get in. WADE Why tell me? Bowman scans the nearly empty terminal, stalling for time. BOWMAN You really did go after that missile. At first, Wade is confused, then she realizes. BOWMAN (continued) Yeah -- Rob told me. Wade acknowledges her empty victory with a sharp glance.

213

BOWMAN (continued) This is an important mission. After what Rob said, the Colonel decided he wants you to fly on it. Wade just looks at him, expecting something more. BOWMAN (continued) I want you to fly it with me. WADE You said I don't belong up there. Is this supposed to make it all okay? BOWMAN No -- no, it doesn't make it okay. (hesitates; glances at wall clock) But right now, we have a mission to fly. The cavalry is mounting up. You want in or not? She resists being forced into a decision.

214

WADE Zero weather? SAM-17's? BOWMAN It won't be easy. Wade scoffs at the obvious; considers her options; then makes up her mind. WADE If you wanna be a singer... What? Nothin'. BOWMAN WADE I'm in.

Both Wade and Bowman reach for her large bag. Their hands meet on the handle and they exchange an awkward look. For a moment, Bowman hesitates, then lets go. BOWMAN (grabs smaller bags) I'll take these.

215

(beat) I called it the way I saw it. didn't believe you.

I'm sorry I

Wade's look searches deep in his eyes, then she nods her acceptance. INT. ORFINI AB, HANGAR - RAINY - DAY Four F-15E's fully loaded with ordinance are lined up. Two HUMVEES with Gray, Bowman, Wade, and other crewmen race across tarmac, coming to stop in front of row of F-15E's. Crews rush to mount their respective planes. As Wade climbs to her cockpit, she's stopped by Gray. Wade? Sir? Gray hesitates, uncertain just what to say. GRAY WADE

216

GRAY (deadly serious) Now is the time for flying on the edge, over it if you have to! WADE Yes, Sir! EXT. ORFINI AB, START OF RUNWAY - RAINY - DAY Two F-15E's ready for take off. Two more on the ready ramp.

Planes begin tandem roll outs, and with a deafening ROAR, they lift off and turn into the distance. EXT. SARAJEVO - RAINY - DAY UN Troops, under artillery barrage and heavy Serb attack, pull back to positions in bombed out building. At the outer defense perimeter, surrendering UN Troops are mercilessly gunned down by advancing Serbs. Serbian tanks move out of forest toward the city.

217

EXT. FOUR F-15E's FLYING ABOVE THICK CLOUD COVER - DAY Four Planes flying in formation. GRAY Leader to Angel Flight. Final word is both towns reported under heavy attack -- this is what we've trained for. Just do the job, and good luck. Gray and his Wingman peel off from Bowman and Wade. BOWMAN Okay, Wade, you know the drill. WADE (to her wizzo) Ready, Merlin? MERLIN I'm right behind you. They exchange a nod in the rearview. Wade peels off and heads down into the clouds.

218

INT. MCU - DAY Single BLIP comes up on radar screen. RADAR OPERATOR Enemy target. A target? DUVNICOFF Only one?

RADAR OPERATOR One target, Sir. DUVNICOFF Are you sure? RADAR OPERATOR Yes, Sir. DUVNICOFF I don't like it. Something is wrong. The Americans always fly together. Check equipment. Prepare missiles. Alert all anti-aircraft weapons. INTERCUT - MMB and Anti-Aircraft preparing for action.

219

RADAR OPERATOR Aircraft is in range. DUVNICOFF Fire missile. INTERCUT - MMB firing missile. EXT. F-15E FLYING ABOVE CLOUDS - DAY INSERT Radar Alarm momentarily activated. SNAKE There it is! BOWMAN Wade, you get it? EXT. F-15E FLYING LOW ALTITUDE - DAY Wade is flying in valley, beneath thick cloud cover. ALARM lights up on Wizzo Console.

220

GOT IT!

MERLIN

WADE We got him. Target is locked! MERLIN Hey, Wade, it's pretty thick out there. Can you see anything? WADE Yeah, my nose. Suddenly ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE opens up around them. is buffeted around. Wade struggles to evade. The plane

Out of nowhere a bridge spanning the river appears in front of them. Anti-Aircraft Balloons float above. WADE Holy shit! No choice. She flies under span just above the water. REACTION on Merlin looking up as they pass underneath.

221

EXT. BOWMAN'S F-15E, FLYING ABOVE CLOUDS - DAY Bowman cruising at altitude. INTERCUT - SAM-17 missile streaking towards him. SNAKE Missile coming fast! BOWMAN Launch decoy! INTERCUT - DECOY missile dropping from F-15E. and heads towards SAM-17. SNAKE Bank left! Bank left! F-15E banks hard left. SAM-17 streaks towards F-15E, but runs into Decoy and EXPLODES. Nice! BOWMAN Wade - did you get 'em yet? Engine ignites

EXT. WADE'S F-15E, FLYING AT LOW ALTITUDE - DAY

222

Wade is buffeted about by anti-aircraft fire. INTERCUT - INT. WADE'S F-15E WADE We'll let you know. Merlin struggles to maintain lock with radar imaging. MERLIN Steady it. I can't hold lock. WADE (fighting to control) You wanna drive? INTERCUT - SHOULDER HELD MISSILE being fired at Plane from rim of valley. MISSILE ALARM goes off in plane. MERLIN Missile locked on us. I see it! WADE Full ECM! Evasive maneuver!

223

INTERCUT - F-15E juking to avoid enemy fire. chaff fired from rear of plane. MERLIN I've lost the target!

Flares and

WADE Damn it! Bastard's not getting away from us! Hold on! INSERT - Serb Soldiers outside MCU look at F-15E as it passes directly overhead. Wade pulls back hard on stick, up through cloud cover, into sunlight and a three-sixty loop back down. Wade and Merlin pressed into seats, eyes bulging. MERLIN What the hell are you doing? Wade fights to stay focused. Heading into the bottom of the loop she pushes to full afterburner. Get him! WADE

224

INSERT - Heads Up Display (HUD), reading "10g's". Wade and Merlin grimace at doing anti-blackout GRUNTS. "Tunnel Vision" closes in as they hang on edge of consciousness. INT. MCU - DAY Target suddenly appears on Radar Scope. RADAR OPERATOR I have Target! It's right over us! DUVNICOFF Fire Missile! Fire Missile! EXT. F-15E - DAY F-15E comes through loop and breaks out from under cloud cover, bearing down on the target. Wade and Merlin fight back from the brink of blacking out. WADE Blow that sucker away!

225

He's ours! INT. MCU - DAY

MERLIN

Radar Beep suddenly disappears from screen. RADAR OPERATOR Contact lost! They're below radar! DUVNICOFF WHAT? Duvnicoff peers at the screen, madly pressing buttons. DUVNICOFF FIRE MISSILE! FIRE MISSILE! EXT. F-15E - DAY F-15E bears down on target. POV Wade approaching target.

226

Fire!

WADE

HARM missile fired from under wing of F-15E. Missile streaks towards MCU, exploding on contact. INT. MCU - DAY Duvnicoff frantically operating console when EXPLOSION rips through trailer. EXT. MCU - DAY MCU struck by missile EXPLODES as F-15E streaks past. MERLIN You're one crazy son-of-a-bitch! Wade looks back to see the exploding MCU. WADE Was that on the edge or over it? I love it!

227

MERLIN That was definitely over it! F-15E heads up through cloud cover into the sunlight, banks over hard and comes right at you! BOWMAN (V.O.) Hey, Wade. If you're done strollin' down there, we still have bombs to drop. Strollin'? MERLIN

EXT. BOWMAN'S F-15E FLYING AT ALTITUDE - DAY Bowman is cruising. Wade pulls into Wingman position.

WADE Wade to Bowman, I'm on your four. BOWMAN Let's get to business. WADE (to Merlin) Like we're on picnic or somethin'.

228

The two planes peel into the clouds. EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF SARAJEVO - DAY Intense fighting between Serb and UN Troops. UN positions. Serbs nearly on

F-15E comes screaming out of clouds. Drops load of bomnbs on advancing Serbs, followed by second F-15E. Planes pull out of attack run. "THREAT ALARM" sounds. ESTABLISH FOUR SU-27'S FLYING IN FORMATION. BOWMAN Four bandits coming at us from twenty thousand. I'm on them. Maintain ground attack. WADE Maintaining attack. Wade makes sharp bank and dives back into the clouds.

229

WADE Try raising the UN people. MERLIN Got you. EXT. SARAJEVO, UN COMMAND POST, DAY French UN Soldiers under intense fire from advancing Serbs. Officer hunkered down with radio and map pinpointing target. FRENCH OFFICER (into radio) We at Zebra Alpha 1-7-6. Very easy see with Flag. They very close. INTERCUT - Serb Tanks and soldiers approach UN Post. INT. WADES'S F-15E - DAY MERLIN Three tanks showing on High-Res. INSERT - TANKS ON HIGH-RES RADAR DISPLAY

230

WADE This is Angel Four to UN Post. Do you have any tanks? FRENCH OFFICER Negative, we have no tanks! WADE Okay, boys, heavy metal time. MERLIN We got two Mavericks. other with the 30MM. WADE Not a problem. F-15E banks sharply into clouds. WADE (continued) Angel Four to Angel Three. you doin' up there? You'll have to do the

Hey, Bowman, how

EXT. BOWMAN'S F-15E IN HIGH ALTITUDE DOG FIGHT - DAY

231

Contrails of planes mark the intricate maneuvering. Bowman has just launched an Air-to-Air on a Russian SU-27 fighter. Fiery EXPLOSION as it strikes home. SNAKE Two down, two to go, but we're out of missiles. BOWMAN Going to guns! WADE (V.O.) Bowman, this is Wade. Bowman, this is Wade, do you copy? BOWMAN A little busy right now. EXT. WADE'S F-15E - DAY Wade is flying in the clouds. Merlin has tank in cross-hairs of High-Res Radar. Fires Air-to-Ground Missile. Moves cross-hairs to Second tank and does the same.

232

INTERCUT - Maverick Missile Launch from under wing. Streaks to Target Tank. EXPLOSION on impact. Merlin does the same on the Second Tank. MERLIN Two cans recycled! Last one is all yours.

F-15E makes tight turn and comes bearing down on Tank. INTERCUT - UN Position. Serb Tank closing in on them. Wade sighting in on Tank THROUGH Heads Up Display (HUD). Tank is almost on UN Position. I got him! WADE

INTERCUT - Serb Soldier firing "STINGER" type shoulder launched missile at passing F-15E. In the plane: MISSILE ALARM! MERLIN Missile on our Six! REACTION on Wade: does she break away or take out tank?

233

WADE Can you handle it? MERLIN (working instruments) You're covered! Break on one... three... two... Wade fires a barrage of 30mm that decimates the Tank. MERLIN (continued) ...ONE! Flares and Chaff pods ejected from Wade's F-15E. Stinger Missile closing fast. At the last instant, Wade does a FLIP OVER and cuts between two BUILDINGS. The stinger whizzes past and Wade banks to come around for another run. INTERCUT - UN Position. Serb Troops retreating. come out of bunkers, pursuing Serbs. Wade is banking into another pass. UN Troops

234

BOWMAN (V.O.) Wade, we could use a little help! EXT. BOWMAN'S F-15E, HIGH ALTITUDE - DAY Bowman has SU-27 in his sights, but another one is gaining position on his tail. BOWMAN LIKE NOW! EXT. WADE'S F-15E, LOW ALTITUDE - DAY Wade on finale of attack run. WADE Hold 'em tight. On our way! (to Merlin) Give a good-bye kiss: drop the rest of the load. MERLIN Churn, burn, shake and bake!

235

F-15E passes over target area, raking it with 30mm and dropping rest of bombs. INTERCUT - retreating Serb Soldiers raked with gunfire from F-15E. Bombs falling. EXPLOSIONS! Hold on! WADE

Wade slams throttles to full afterburner and pulls up to near vertical climb through clouds. EXT. BOWMAN'S F-15E, HIGH ALTITUDE - DAY Su-27 is closing in on Bowman. 20mm that strike the F-15E. It fires several bursts of

BOWMAN Wade! Wade! Absolutely, have to have you here, NOW! Wade pulls in behind SU-27. on SU-27 Pilot. Puts it in her sights. REACTION

WADE EXPRESS MAIL! We deliver!

236

Wade fires burst from 20mm that strikes home. smoking, peels away. Other SU-27 breaks off. BOWMAN They've had it. Let'em go. WADE That's two you owe me! BOWMAN Another and I'll have to marry you.

SU-27 begins

REACTION on Wade: smile and just a hint of possibility. WADE Don't hold your breath. BOWMAN I think it's time to go home. F-15E's do a low level pass over battle zone. as they fly past and up to daylight. EXT. ROGERS' HOME - DAY UN Troops wave

237

Wade stands at the door waiting. surprised but happy to see her. BETTY Janet.

Betty opens it and is

WADE I'm not too good about calling. Am I interrupting? BETTY Of course not. Come in. Please. In the house, it's obvious there's packing for a move. WADE You're leaving? Wade notices a picture of Jake on the mantle. BETTY You know how it is. (looking for seats) Why don't we go outside. OUTSIDE

238

WADE I'm sorry I couldn't have been here for you. Today would have been the day it was official. You should have these. She hands Betty a small jewelry case. Betty opens it to find a set of Major's gold insignia. She stares at them until it looks she's about to cry. WADE I didn't mean to.... BETTY It's okay. Thank you. I appreciate this. It's something the boys should have. The silence grows awkward. WADE I better be going. Can you believe we're doing a training mission with the Russians? If there's anything... BETTY Sure. Wade acknowledges her and turns to leave...

239

BETTY (continued) Janet... Betty reaches out to Wade. The two women embrace.

EXT. HANGER - MILLER FALLS AFB - ALASKA - DAY Wade, Bowman, Snake, and Merlin in flight gear, walking out to group of parked F-15E's. Nearby, Rob on crutches, Rocko, and others look on. BOWMAN (tosses her keys) Hey, Wade. WADE (makes a good catch) What's this? BOWMAN You've had it easy ‘round here.

240

Easy?!!

WADE

BOWMAN It's time you start taking some responsibility. You're a flight leader -that is if you think you can handle it. WADE (all smiles) Bet your ass on it! I did! BOWMAN

They stop in front of an F-15E. BOWMAN (continued) Brand new. Full upgrade. Sittin' on sixty thousand pounds of thrust! Think maybe you can keep up now? Wade admires the plane with the pride of a new car owner. WADE Now that it's even?

241

She gives him a confident smile. WADE (continued) Let's find out! EXT. PALE BLUE SKY - DAY In their F-15E's, Wade and Bowman fly INTO FRAME in tight formation. It's not clear who's in the lead. THROUGH CANOPY we see Wade. She's all business.

Planes peel off into the sun -- and the Wild Blue. FADE OUT.
THE END

242

1

How many more years I shall be able to work on the problem I do not know; I hope, as long as I live. There can be no thought of finishing, for 'aiming at the stars' both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning. Robert H. Goddard, letter to H. G. Wells, 1932.
— —

2

2

The Secret Life of Flying Machines – Zeffrin Bright © 2009

The Secret Life of Flying Machines.
For comments, questions, and full sized prints of any of the illustrations please visit ZoomerBoomer.com. zb

33

Everything that ever was leads to everything that is and there to everything that will be. Our dreams and imaginings of today are tomorrow’s reality made possible by yesterday’s sacrifices. For every person who has reached for the heavens in flight but falls to earth the sky does shed a tear.

The Secret Life of Flying Machines - Zeffrin Bright © 2009

4

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful