Monday, November 13, 2023

Flying fast – #Review #ActionAdventure #Sixties @Owlworks

Racing the Dream tour banner


If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” ~Mario Andretti

Strap down the 5-point harness in the cockpit of a Formula 1 air racing plane and join Hawk as he chases victory! First on their amateur make-shift course over Antelope Acres, then on the re-emerging pylon racing circuit in the early 1960s. And finally, as Hawk battles 7 other top-level pilots at the very first National Air Racing Championship event in Reno!

Abandoning the cloth and his African mission, Father Bob returns to his slide rule to design Hawk’s racer. Sparks, his loyal yet surly mechanic, built it and wrenching both on the engine—as well as on Hawk—keeps them at the front of the pack. Home again in Los Angeles from behind the stick of a T-6 Texan as a mercenary in the Congo civil war, air racing is a new aviation adventure for Hawk. Ride along as he tangles with fellow pilots in “uncooperative formation flying” at two-hundred miles per hour a mere fifty feet off the ground!

And then one day cruising home to Van Nuys airport, Hawk spies Allison, a beach-blonde surfer girl, insanely wing walking on the top wing of a Stearman PT-17 bi-plane. He quickly sets his sights on her.

Fly low…Fly fast…and Turn Left…


Hey, Scotty…” She climbed down out of the cockpit, hopped off the wing, and walked our way. “Who’s your friend?”

Him? Oh, just Hawk. He’s got a green Goodyear racer over in the D hangars.”

Yeah. I’ve seen it.” Allison came over. I’m only five-eight which put me in a fighter pilot’s slot, so her dark emerald eyes met me eyeball-to-eyeball. She held out her hand. “I’m Allison. Nice to meet you.”

Pleasure’s all mine,” I said, taking her hand, trying hard not to crack a lecherous smile. I looked over at her plane. “This is a nice-looking ride. Really clean, too.”

Have to keep up appearances for the crowds,” she said.

Yeah, Scotty was telling me. So, who does the wing walking? You or Doug?”

She gave me a coy smile. “That would be me. No one wants to see my stupid brother risking life and limb, now, would they?”

You know what they say about skydivers: fools jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. And here you are climbing out on the wing without a chute.”

It’s a living.”

I was telling Scotty, I haven’t been in one of these since primary training.”

She looked me up one side and down the other. “You don’t look so old.”

Ouch!” Scotty shook his head and covered his eyes.“That’s got to burn a bit.”

What a maroon.” I glared at him. “I’ve got a few hours on the engine, but I’m nowhere near TBO.”

I mean—” Allison sputtered. “I—ah…”

Come on, he’s ancient.” Scotty grabbed my shoulder and squeezed. “Damn near an aviation fossil. How many Fokker’s did you shoot down in the War—World War One, that is?”

She hung her head and blushed a bit. “Hey, I’m sorry.”

No worries. Just take me for a ride sometime,” I said.

Sure.” Allison looked up and smiled. “I’d like that.”

Good. Let’s get your plane back in the hangar.”

Scotty and I went back and grabbed the tail to push it inside.

You dog, you,” Scotty muttered at me.

More like a cat,” I said, “with nine lives.”


Racing the Dream book cover

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Racing the Dream starts out in mid-air.

As the book opens, protagonist Hawk (A. Gavin Byrd) is piloting his souped-up single engine plane around the pylons at a make-shift race course in the southern California desert, only a few dozen feet off the ground, pushing two hundred miles per hour. The first page is full of aviation terminology and slang that might as well have been gibberish, given my complete ignorance of the subject. I got the general idea of what was happening, but still, my spirits plummeted. If the whole book is this technical, I’m going to hate it, I thought.

Fortunately, this assessment turned out to be totally wrong. I loved this novel, for a raft of reasons that I’ll detail below.

In Racing the Dream, M.T. Bass has brought to vivid life both a niche sub-culture and a moment in history. Practically every character in the book lives to fly. The only exceptions are the talented engineers who build, repair and customize the planes: Father Bob, an ex-priest who’s the aeronautical genius behind Hawk’s bird, and grumpy, hulking Sparks, their mechanic.

For the characters in this book, planes are more than a hobby; they’re almost an obsession. These people are extreme. In fact they’re more than a little bit crazy. Still, you have to admire their guts and their passion. They’re fiercely competitive but nevertheless respect their fellow fanatics.

At least half the book, I’d estimate, involves flying – not just the racers but also the bi-plane used by the lovely Allison for her wing-walking act. Yes, wing-walking is exactly what it sounds like. Allison climbs out of the open cockpit of the plane as it is swooping over the crowd at an air show, to do poses and acrobatics on the wings – stunts like hanging upside down with her arms outstretched, her legs wrapped around the wing struts. Obviously insane, but thrilling as well. Hawk understands; indeed, he becomes her pilot.

Hawk and Allison develop a relationship based as much on their mutual love of flying as their physical attraction. The powerful connection between them provides a welcome counterpoint to constant sense of danger as Hawk and his friends continue to push the envelope.

Racing the Dream is set in southern California in the early nineteen sixties. I lived in LA about fifteen years later, and based on that experience, I’d say that M.T. Bass got it right. Norm’s Diner and donut shops, wood-paneled station wagons and surfers, Muscle Beach and Malibu, Airstream RVs and ‘62 Corvettes. The book has the feel of the period, the exuberance and the innocence, before Vietnam and the moon shot, hippies and student riots.

The interactions between the characters often seem casual and light-hearted. However, the author gives us bits and pieces of history that make it clear that Hawk, Father Bob and Scotty have been through some dark and dangerous times together. Racing the Dream is in fact the third book in the White Hawk Aviation series. When you’re writing a series, it’s really difficult to provide enough back story to support the current book, without going overboard. I truly applaud the author’s skill in weaving hints about previous events into the story, deepening the characterization without doing an information dump.

And what about all the technical jargon? I basically discovered I could ignore it. It’s not necessary to understand every detail:

And we rolled forward heading to the runway, Allison’s head swiveling left and right clearing the wingtips as we taxied slowly out onto the apron. She gently S-turned us to the runup area where she checked the controls, instruments, fuel, and trim. The radial wound up to 1400 RPM and she confirmed the left and right magnetos operational. Engine back to 700.

Stearman Five-Two-One-Delta-Mike, ready at One-Six Left. Departing north,” Allison radioed.

I have no idea what the trim or the radial or the magnetos are. I imagine that a reader who did might enjoy this book even more than I did.

Meanwhile, I’m sufficiently hooked that I’m thinking of getting hold of the earlier books in the series. I think M.T. Bass cares about flying, and about these characters. That made me care, too.

About the Author

M.T. Bass is a scribbler of fiction who holds fast to the notion that while victors may get to write history, novelists get to write/right reality. He lives, writes, flies and makes music in Mudcat Falls, USA.

Born in Athens, Ohio, M.T. Bass grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in English and Philosophy, then worked in the private sector (where they expect “results”) mainly in the Aerospace & Defense manufacturing market. He is the author of twelve novels, two novellas, and a book of verse. His writing spans various genres, including Mystery, Adventure, Romance, Black Comedy and TechnoThrillers. A Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, airplanes and pilots are featured in many of his stories. Bass currently lives on the shores of Lake Erie near Lorain, Ohio.

M.T. Bass Author Links





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Racing the Dream Purchase Links

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Amazon (Kindle Unlimited):

M.T. Bass will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting and reviewing today.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, M.T. Welcome to Beyond Romance! As you can probably gather from my review, I really enjoyed the book! Hope your tour is going well.

M.T. Bass said...

Hi Lisabet --

Thanks for featuring Racing the Dream on your blog today. I'm really glad you enjoyed the story.


Sherry said...

Looks like a interesting book and I love the cover.

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