Forty years ago, I worked as an aircraft mechanic before returning to my original career as a writer. During that time I worked on airplanes as diverse as supersonic Navy F-14 Tomcat fighters and small commuter “puddle jumpers” like Shorts SD330 “Winnebagos” and Fairchild Metro III “Sewer Pipes”. But the apple of my eye was always a frumpy, dumpy, lizard-skinned USAF C-130 Hercules named the Aerospace Chicken (Tail No. 70-1259). We affectionately called them “Trash Haulers” because they carried everything — sometimes, quite literally as I did once, trash.
As a young man in the Air Force, I traveled…a lot. I went to all of the continents except Australia and Antarctica, 18 countries in all. I spent months and weeks at a time wandering the world like a flight-bound vagabond. Weekends in Panama, nights on Midway Island during gooney bird nesting season, dinner in Rio and tea and cookies on the Black Sea. I ate cuttlefish in Athens and lamb in Crete and marveled at the exceptional, one-of-a-kind clouds in Madrid. There was good Italian Wine and English shepherd’s pie washed down with a pint or three, even the kimchi in Seoul was delightful, though a little spicy. It was a marvelous, and oddly peaceful, four years. I was a very lucky young man. Continue reading