• gmontcombroux

PILOT ERROR


Dear Readers,


You may wonder where an author’s inspiration comes from. Of course, authors get their inspiration in many different ways, but the one thing they have in common can be summed up in one word: research. Whether it’s a contemporary romance or a historical novel, an absolute necessity is for an author to get the facts straight.

So then, what is the spark that sends a writer to the dusty tomes of a library or a bookstore, or more likely today, to the far reaches of the internet to download countless articles and books? Don’t dismiss libraries. I love them. When my local library had to sell off a load of their oldest books to make room for more computers, I acquired a veritable treasure trove of resource material, valuable books that were long out-of-print, all for 25¢ a bag!

The inspiration for my next wartime novel came from an old newspaper clipping acquired in such a library clear-out. It was an account of two young German trainee pilots and their two instructors, who flew low over Lac du Bourget, in the Alps region of France, which was occupied by the Italiens, to scare fishermen toiling to put food on the table and sell the surplus. The young pilots were in a boisterous mood, and their instructors inattentive. The plane crashed into the cold waters of the lake. Some of the crew survived, thanks to the fishermen they were harassing. The inhabitants of a small village cared for them and they survived their injuries.

That was enough to build an entire scenario of a village divided. Some its inhabitants wanted to summon the Italians to come and pick up the injured. Others wanted to let them recuperate. The Résistance wanted to hold them as hostages to exchange for arrested resistance fighters. One of the women looking after the injured, falls in in love, which leads to jealousy. The temporary title of the work-in-progress is Pilot Error.


The scream of the plane engine intensified.

“Not again!” Bernard craned his neck to look at the on-coming plane. The boat rocked when André plunged an oar into the water in an effort to turn the boat away from the plane’s trajectory. The fishermen in the other boat yelled invectives at the Focke Wulf figher now almost overhead.

“The crazy idiot’s far too low!”

André raised his arms above his head. “He’s going to crash.”

The plane pitched and rolled as the pilot struggled to pull out of the dive and regain altitude. But it was too little too late. Seconds later, the plane hit the water and crumpled. The dazed fishermen steadied their boats against the waves radiating from the crash, while at the same time trying to salvage their nets. The plane began to sink.

Bernard shielded his eyes. “Two of them have made it out.”

André spat over the gunwale. “They can damn well swim to shore.”.

“They’re human beings. We ought to help them.”

Putain de Nazis, let them drown.”

“André!” Bernard glanced at the other two fishing boats. They were headed toward the shore, ignoring the cries for help from the pair in the water.

“Well, it was going to happen one of these days, and today’s the day!” Josianne pounded the dough into shape.

Bah! Two less Germans.”

The two friends hastened to the window. Mariette pointed to the lake. “Pass me the binoculars.”.


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