Her father, a pilot, was killed just one year after her mother died. Captain Ernie Clark flew back in the days of unlocked cockpit doors. In 1964, a passenger walked into the cockpit with a gun and shot the captain and the crew. The aircraft went down, killing all 44 people on board.
I first heard of Julie Clark in 1988, when my office mate, a walking aviation encyclopedia, showed me her picture in an aviation magazine. “This,” he said, “is the woman pilot you want your novel to be about.”
Lou also arranged a lunch date for me to meet airline pilot Heidi Porch, who ferried Cessnas across the Atlantic before … long story. (Lou, I owe you!)
Later I found articles on Patty Wagstaff too, and I knew my heroine would be a composite of several people from real life (but, most of all, a figment of my imagination). My sister Kelly (now known as Frau Doktor Benning, with her PhD and new job in Frankfurt as a prep-school principal) had secretly gotten her pilot’s license and flown home in a Cessna with the Iranian pilot who helped her buy and sell cars at auctions to pay for flight time. (Dad would’ve done his best to talk her out of it, had he known what she was up to.)
So… I stole the idea of a woman pilot who buys and restores a T-34 Mentor and flies it at airshows, timing her aerobatic ballet in the sky to patriotic music. My image of Kate is inspired by my sister, by Julie Clark, Patty Wagstaff, Heidi Porch, and countless pilots I’ve read about in magazines and books. I cannot honestly write that disclaimer you see in the front matter of novels: “This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real-life characters is coincidental.” Uh-huh. Authors are liars. We pillage real-life people, put them in our stories, change names to protect the innocent (and guilty), and–
Interview: Julie Clark – T-34 Aerobatics (MOPAR) – Fly/In Cruise/In @YouTube
Julie’s amazon bio is out of date, but here it is:
Julie Clark,orphaned as a teen, forged two successful careers. With 35+ years in aviation she has flown twenty-seven accident-free years as an airline pilot and twenty-four as an air show star. She became an airline pilot when women’s applications were routinely thrown into the trash … The co-author, Ann Lewis Cooper, is also an experienced pilot. She has previously published biographies of other female aviators, including Ednat Gardner White, Jessie Woods, Patty Wagstaff, Dot Swain Lewis, and Emily Warner.
Aha, here’s a more recent bio.
Julie Clark’s aerial performances in her T-34 include a patriotic theme choreographed by Clark to singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” or “God Bless Canada.” http://airportjournals.com/julie-clarks-flying-adventures-as-captain-and-aerobatics-superstar/
Now I wonder: do authors post that disclaimer in order to head off at the pass any law suits that real people might throw at them?
If I changed Kate’s plane from Julie’s T-34 (Kate painted hers red) to Patty’s Extra 260 (a one of a kind aircraft), would my fictional heroine be any less a piracy and pillaging of real pilots? Thank heaven Peter Wolfe has no real-life counterpart that I’m aware of.
Just trying to stay out of trouble – which may be the biggest reason I never go to print with this novel. Dad, I swear, you’re nowhere near as scary as Kate’s dad. Mom, you’re not the spineless wife Kate’s mom is. Oddly, after I’d written Johnnie, Kate and Alexandra, I had a son, daughter and daughter, and all three kids have way, way more in common with their fictional counterparts than I could possibly have planned or caused. Maybe I’m prophetic. Maybe it all really is just coincidence, as all those other #LyingAuthors (private joke, or not so private, inspired by #TravisHill, the subject of one of my blog posts.)
All right. I lied. I don’t know when or if I’ll get around to posting more details about Julie Clark. It’s all public domain if you google what I would or buy the book, as I did.
Julie Clark and cameraship pilot, pal, and fellow Northwest Airlines captain, Tim Barzen http://maxair2air.com/AIR/Profiles/T-34.html
–Another lie! Back already, having uncovered way too much cool stuff via Twitter. E.g., 2013-07 Julie Clark, Juice PLUS Air Show Pilot Interview http://fb.me/1xGryK1Sn
Oh,and don’t confuse Julie (aka Juliette) with Julia: Julia Clark was the 3rd woman to receive a pilot’s license. Here she is an exhibition plane in 1911 http://ow.ly/pUn5y
(Hat tip to
aviation via Twitter ) @USMCArchives #
Alas: Julia was also the first female pilot to die in air crash (in 1911). Hmm, she deserves her own blog! This lying author had better stop now and come back later. Apparently Julie Clark is not on twitter, but check youtube and you’ll see her aerobatic routine in her T-34 (hers is NOT red) with the music of Greenwood’s “Proud to Be An American” (not the medley of U.S. military anthems that the fictional Kate flies to).
In her book, Mopar is still her sponsor. Today, its Juice Plus+, the whole food based nutritional brand, who “announced a national partnership with” (i.e., sponsored?) acclaimed airshow pilot Julie Clark. “The company says Clark truly embodies the Juice Plus+ brand and Live Life to the Plus+. With more than 40 years of flight experience and an average of more than 20 airshow performances each year, Clark has spent much of her life engaging with and bringing excitement to those around her.”