Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Trip I Didn't Make

What do you think of when someone says they’re going to New York City? The Statue of Liberty? The Empire State Building? Broadway?
Last week, my dad and brother left a few days early for a business trip to New Jersey to sightsee in NYC. My brother kept me apprised of their activities through cellphone photos. They went to One World, the Flatiron Building, B&H Photo, and the aircraft carrier Intrepid.
B&H Photo? Well, what do you expect of professional photographers?

Dad had visited One World last year, and wanted Jim to see it. On a clear day, you can see forever. After that visit, what’s the point of going to the Empire State Building?
They didn’t visit Miss Liberty. First, they would have had to get to the ferry out to Liberty’s island. Once there, how much can you see looking up at the statue from her feet? No point in going inside the statue, because, again, they’d already seen the best view in town.

Intrepid, along with the submarine and Concorde, are understandable. Less understandable is their failure to see the space shuttle.
They spent considerable time during the couple of days traipsing hither and yon. It’s noisy and crowded. Traffic is horrendous. They got to a wax museum only to discover their tickets had expired the day before.

Did I miss much? Yes. I’ve never been to New York City despite all my globetrotting. I would have enjoyed their stops, except for B&H. I would have pushed for the Statue of Liberty.
What would you most like to see in New York?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Glory and a Good Book

Long ago and far away (when my family lived in California), I checked out several Heartsong books from the church library. My dad frowned. Fiction? I should be reading serious stuff.

Flash forward to this year. My first book, Friends and Enemies, came out in January. My dad has read it. He is amazed at his daughter’s talent! When I read this article in In Touch magazine, it was like a blessing on my endeavor.

Glory and a Good Book
By Christie Purifoy 

Thirty years have passed since I was a child playing on my grandmother’s West Texas farm, but I can still feel the flutter in my stomach as I chased my cousins from the top of one hay bale to the next. On those long summer afternoons, I was the only one who sometimes slipped into the shade between the bales with a book. After dark, while the adults talked above the noise of the cicadas and the kids dug into watermelons brought in from the field, I would sit near the single porch light and read. Inevitably, someone would notice me there beneath the circling moths and make a joke about the child who ignored an actual farm in order to read Farmer Boy.
The sting in that family joke was that I preferred a black-and-white facsimile to the full-color reality of a farm in summer. Heat, humidity, and mosquitoes are no bother in a book, and hay no longer scratches. I did read to escape. Though I have persisted in my book-loving ways, I still sometimes wonder if my parents were right when they shouted toward the backseat on every family road trip, “Pull your nose out of that book and just look at these mountains!”
As another summer nears, God’s creation will soon attain its blue-sky, bright-sun glory. And though we’ll continue to meet with the Lord in our churches, this is also the season for seeking Him on mountain hikes and kayak trips. In the months ahead, we will taste the goodness of God in salt spray and backyard barbecues. But is it really so wrong to lower our eyes from all that glory to read the pages of a book?
Since those days on the farm, I have learned that a good book, even when chosen from a desire to escape the world, gives us far more than we bargained for. We are born with eyes, but a good book teaches us to see. A good book shows us how even an ordinary dirt-brown farm is saturated not only with beauty but also with significance. No matter the genre we choose, when we follow a narrative from conflict to resolution, or when we notice a writer’s message in a small detail or ordinary image, we are learning how to see the great Author of us all.
Every reader knows that a good book shines with order, beauty, and meaning. And one of the great joys of the Christian life is our knowledge that the real world shines with the same.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Women Save the B-29

I love the story told by the National WASP•WWII Museum.
The B-29 Superfortress had been rushed into production without the years of testing usually required. Pilots of the time called the Wright engines the “wrong” engines. They were prone to engine fires on the runway and sometimes after takeoff.

In February, 1943, a B-29 crashed into a meat-processing factory and killed nine crewmen and nineteen civilians. The death of Eddie Allen, Boeing’s ace test pilot, spooked other pilots. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tibbets, assigned to train pilots for the B-29, had a problem. The men he had chosen didn’t want to fly the Superfort.
The Superfortress had been developed to carry the atomic bomb. Tibbets had to find willing pilots. He got an idea. The men would be shamed into flying the B-29 if he got women to fly it.
He showed up at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida and walked into the lounge of the nurses’ barracks. DiDi Moorman was reading a magazine. He asked her, “Do you have any four-engine time?” When she stared at him, speechless, he added, “I’m looking for two WASP to check out in the B-29.”
None of the WASP at Elgin had four-engine experience; just a bit of two-engine training. DiDi, recognizing the huge opportunity, told Tibbets that Dora Dougherty was checked out in the two-engine A-20 light bomber.
Tibbets tabbed DiDi and Dora to fly the B-29. He gave them just three days of training before their demonstration flight. That was unheard of. The regular training program for the B-29 required six months of training, two years toward an Aeronautical Engineering degree, and fifty hours of flight time in a converted B-24 bomber. Even with that, many of the men washed out.
Moorman and Dougherty

DiDi and Dora succeeded because they were highly motivated, well trained, and carried out Tibbets’ instructions precisely. He taught them techniques which reduced the possibility of engine fires, and in fact, did not tell them of the engine problem.
When a fire did start during a training flight, Dora calmly followed procedures and landed the plane safely. For a few days, Dora and DiDi ferried pilots, crew chiefs, and navigators from the base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, to other bases.
Tibbets’ plan worked. The men stopped complaining and started training. The B-29s went on to help win the war in the Pacific, thanks to the women showing the men how it was done.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why Did Germany Bomb Neutral Ireland?

German aircraft first bombed neutral Ireland during the Second World War on August 26, 1940. Three people died. In January, 1941, German bombs fell on several locations along the east coast of Ireland, but without loss of life. The Nazi government said the bombings occurred because German aircraft mistook the Ireland’s east coast for the west coast of Britain.
In the aftermath of the German bombing of Belfast, Northern Ireland, on the night of April 15-16, 1941, the Dublin Fire Brigade traveled to Belfast to assist.
Seventy-five years ago, on the night of May 31, 1941, four bombs were dropped by German aircraft on Dublin, resulting in 34 dead and 90 injured, with hundreds of houses damaged or destroyed.

Some interpreted the bombing as a reprisal for the assistance given to Belfast. William Joyce, known as Lord Haw Haw, had broadcast a warning that Amiens Street railway station in Dublin might be bombed because of the large number of Belfast bombing refugees arriving at Amiens Street. The rail station lay only a few hundred yards from where the German bombs exploded.
One German pilot later said he was asked to bomb Belfast, but his two squadrons of thirty planes approached Dublin by mistake.
The German minister in Dublin suspected the British had dropped the bombs to force Ireland into the war.
Some in Britain felt that neutral Ireland was paying the price for “sitting on the fence” during the war against the Third Reich.
The idea has been suggested that British scientists bent the German radio beam to lure Luftwaffe bombers away from Britain and towards Dublin. In fact, the British could not bend the German beams; however, they could “smother” the German radio navigation signals so that the aircraft would wander around the sky searching for the genuine signals. Two days before the Dublin bombing, many aircraft had flown up the Irish coast. They were heard to drop their bombs over the sea after presumably realizing they were not over their intended target.

Funeral of the Dublin victims.

Churchill, furious that Ireland refused to allow Britain the use of three former Royal Navy ports, would not have been upset if British interference caused the Luftwaffe to bomb Dublin. Had the bombers been misled by the British?
The German government apologized for the bombing and, after the war, West Germany paid compensation.