Excerpt // Flygirl by R.D. Kardon
Tris watched a 747 on final approach above her, its four engines hanging off of the wings, massive gear assembly down. It probably moved at 160 knots, but it appeared to float toward the runway. The majesty of this enormous jet had awed Tris ever since she was a little girl.
Grandpa Ed had introduced her to flying. On Sundays, he would come over early and have breakfast with Tris and her parents. Her mother would make blueberry pancakes that had a secret ingredient Tris still didn’t know.
“Let’s go, Princess Patricia. Let’s see the miracle of flight,” he’d say as he wiped his mouth and drained his cup of black coffee. She’d jump up from the table, kiss her parents goodbye, and run out to Grandpa’s truck.
They’d make the two-hour drive from the tiny town of Pittston to the big-city airport. Tris would watch the cornfields roll by, as Grandpa’s old pickup bounced along with his hands locked in the ten-and-two position on the steering wheel.
When the terminal doors opened, she would run to the plate glass window looking out over the ramp, pressing her nose up against the glass and trying to rub it against the bulls-eye tip of a 747 parked at the gate. White with a red stripe, the letters “TWA” painted on the side.
“Grandpa, it’s so big. How can it fly?”
He’d smile down at his only grandchild. “That’s the miracle, princess.”
Now, whenever Tris saw a 747 in flight, she could almost feel the calloused warmth of Grandpa’s hand on hers. Those days at the airport, with her hand in his while she stood nose-to-nose with the gigantic jet, were the moments she treasured from a childhood that always seemed too short.
Tris’s dad died when she was eight. Her mother was adrift after that, sometimes forgetting to cook or clean. From time to time when Tris walked in the door after school, her mother stared at her like she was an unexpected visitor.
Grandpa died just a few years after her father. Tris felt more alone than ever after the two most important men in her life floated away like helium balloons.
The train passed, the barriers rose, and Tris moved on. She’d flown into Exeter many times at Clear Sky and knew the alignment of its crossing runways like the lines in the palm of
her own hands. In her mind, she held a full-color picture of how they looked from the air, like a postage stamp glued to the middle of the city.
Her mouth went dry. She swallowed twice and shimmied her seat to loosen the grip of the shoulder strap that locked against her chest. As she checked the street signs for her next turn, Tris daydreamed about flying the Astral for Tetrix all over the world.
“Look where I am, Grandpa,” she’d say from ramps in Europe, Asia, maybe even Africa! Well-paid coverage crews slept in five-star hotels with lengthly sits in high-end vacation destinations at the ready in case the executives they flew changed their plans. And this job promised the most important benefit: the chance to become a captain without having to wait for her seniority number to come up.
We hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Flygirl!
Robin “R.D.” Kardon was a litigation attorney before beginning a twelve-year flying career as a corporate and airline pilot. She holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and three Captain qualifications. Her travels took her all over the world in every type of airplane from small single-engine Cessnas to the Boeing 737.
Robin earned her B.A. in Journalism and Sociology from NYU and J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law. A native New Yorker, Robin now lives in San Diego, California with her beloved rescue pets. , a work of fiction inspired by her own aviation experience, is her first novel.