Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Wartime Wednesday: Aviation Terms

Wartime Wednesday: Aviation Terms

Public Domain
Accuracy is important for any story, whether contemporary or historical, but I’d hazard a guess that readers of historical fiction “know their stuff” and have little use for a book with errors. I learned this early on when I was freelancing for NHToDo magazine.

While working on an article about some historical place (interestingly, I can’t remember where, but I remember the mistake), I had put a couple of “placeholder” sentences in the first paragraph including one about Abner Doubleday inventing baseball. I’d meant to fact-check the sentences, but in the rush to make the deadline failed to do so.

I got the year incorrect. NHToDo was a travel and lifestyle magazine; to me a casual periodical, yet several letters were written to the editor calling me out on the error. That incident happened over fifteen years ago, but the lesson stuck with me. Hence, some of the tedious research I conduct for my stories.

At the time I was writing Love at First Flight, I knew a retired Air Force pilot who has since passed
away. He was a wealth of knowledge and information, most of which had to be gathered over the telephone because of Covid restrictions (I was researching the story just as the pandemic began.) It’s one thing to know industry terms, it’s something else to use them correctly. Here are just a few*:

Absolute Altitude – The vertical distance between the aircraft and ground level.

Absolute Ceiling – The highest altitude an aircraft can fly at maximum throttle while maintaining level height and constant airspeed.

AGL – (Above Ground Level) – The vertical distance measured between the aircraft and a specific land mass. Not to be confused with Absolute Altitude.

Air Speed Indicator (ASI) – A flight instrument that indicates airspeed an aircraft through an air mass in miles per hour, knots, or both.

Apron – The paved area at an airport where aircraft park, fuel, load, and unload.

Bleed Air – Hot compressed air produced during the compressor stage of aircraft engine operation.

– This is the more common name for the FAA Practical Test. Pilots must pass a checkride for each certification or rating.

Contrail – A streak of condensed water vapor in the air due to the heat produced by aircraft engines at high altitudes.

Drag – A parallel and opposing force to an aircraft’s motion through the air.

Feathering – The act of adjusting variable pitch propellers so that the blades are in line with airflow and don’t create air resistance.

How many are you familiar with?

(*taken from


Love at First Flight

Can two people emerge from the clouds of past hurt to find a silver lining of love?

Evelyn Reid would rather fly than do anything else, so when war engulfs the U.S., she joins the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. One of the program’s top pilots, she is tapped for pursuit plane training...the dream of a lifetime until she discovers the instructor is her ex-fiancé, Jasper MacPherson.

Collecting enough points to rotate stateside, fighter pilot Jasper MacPherson is assigned to teach the WAFS how to fly the army way. Bad enough to be training women, but things take a turn for the worse when his former fiancée shows up as one of his students.

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