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Flight from Fear

Bookcover: Flight from Fear

A World War II adventure/romance
by Sarah Byrn Rickman

It’s been a year since the U.S. joined the fight, but World War II is not going well for the Allies. Lacy Stearns’ pilot husband, John, has been killed in the crash of his B-24 in England. Now Lacy has one burning desire — to fly for her country in her husband’s place.

Swallowing the fear that turns her stomach to jelly when she sets foot in an airplane, Lacy earns her private pilot’s license, is accepted into the WASP program in Sweetwater, Texas, and learns to fly “the Army way.” She is assigned to ferry Army airplanes around the U.S.

New friends she meets along the way help her begin to live beyond John’s loss and teach her how to survive. But the war is far from over, and fate still has other obstacles for Lacy to overcome.

Flight from Fear (fiction, from Disc-Us Books, Inc, 2002) was a Finalist in the Original Softcover Category of the 2003 WILLA Literary Competition, sponsored by Women Writing the West.

This book is available for purchase directly from the author.
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An excerpt from Flight From Fear, Chapter 24:

When it came, she knew instantly what it was — that small but distinct metallic rip she first heard on the training flight at Avenger Field when she and Cin lost their airplane. But it was louder this time because she was sitting in the front nearer what she was certain was the source of trouble and the sound wasn’t distorted by her lack of visual and aural orientation under the black cotton hood.

Lacy looked down at the instrument panel again. The first dial she checked was the cylinder head temperature. She didn’t have to look any further. The needle was rising. Dreading what she would see, she raised her head to look out. Sure enough, a jet of slick black oil was pulsing onto the front of her canopy.

“Oil line rupture,” — Lacy breathed into her microphone. Her throat was constricted and she could barely get the words out.

The smear of oil shut off her forward visibility. Then the big, four hundred fifty horsepower engine — deprived of its lubricant — seized up, coughed like a dying man, and quit. Lacy, an awful sinking feeling in her stomach, knew instantly she had only minutes to find a place to land. Remembering the instructions in the Flight Manual as well as Shorty’s and her other instructors’ warnings, she reached over and turned off the gas and the ignition and lowered the nose of the airplane.

“We’ve got to bail.” Cin’s voice, through the earphones, contained the same element of terror Lacy felt. Cin opened her canopy. A rush of cold air filled the airplane. “Now, Lacy!”

Lacy remembered Jacqueline Cochran’s words as if she had heard them just yesterday. “If you two had been more experienced pilots, you might have been able to land in a field.”

“No! I’m going to try to land it.” She’d be damned if she’d lose a second airplane the same way without a fight.

“You’re crazy!” Cin shouted.

“We could be killed jumping into those rocks.” — Lacy fought to keep reason in her voice.

“We crash, we die. I’ll take my chances,” was Cin’s response.

The silent, powerless BT-13 has begun its gliding descent. Lacy checked again to be sure she had established the optimum angle so that it would descend slowly, but not so slowly as to stall and kick over into a spin that would mean certain death for both of them. But, ultimately, it had nowhere to go but down.

She has two choices. Jump, while she is still high enough for her chute to open, or make a deadstick landing. Right now, looking frantically out the sides of the airplane, she could see no possible place to put it down.

“I’m bailing, Lacy. I’d advise you to follow me.”

Lacy felt the plane tilt slightly to the left, and looked back to see that Cin had one leg over the side.

“Cin, don’t.”

Cin dropped her headphones on the seat and disappeared over the side.

“Wait!” Lacy’s frantic cry echoed in the emptiness of the rarefied air. Out of the corner of her eye, moments later, she saw Cin’s chute open and hold her, suspended, as she floated downward toward some of the sharpest rock spires Lacy has ever seen.

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