Women In Aviation conference, Long Beach, California, Wednesday, March 13: — While Denver was in the clutches of a blizzard, the four Rickmans, in full sunshine, rode a free downtown Long Beach shuttle to the Aquarium of the Pacific. This was attraction number one! Grandson Daniel is a shark enthusiast.
Petting live sharks was THE big draw. I had my doubts, but Mom Amy seemed OK with it. Inside were floor to ceiling tanks filled with divers, fish and other creatures. Outside, open pools offered those sharks for petting. And Emy and Daniel did. Another boy asked Daniel a question, and Daniel, who is well read on the subject, launched into a detailed lecture on sharks. Amy whipped out her phone and filmed his whole dissertation.
When our exploration was complete, we walked down to the harbor and found a bench where we could eat our snack — apples and cheese — and watch the boats. After a walk out to the lighthouse and back, we caught the shuttle back to the hotel. After a light dinner, out to the pool and hot tub. A relaxing day. The last one. Tomorrow the conference begins!
Thursday morning, Amy, Daniel and Emy went on a tour of the Gulfstream facility at the airport. Laura
Smith, Southwest pilot and editor and publisher of Aviation Aviatrix, an ezine for women pilots for which I have been writing, had asked her writers attending WAI to meet and discuss issues for 2019. Were we going to continue publishing? The magazine requires a lot of time from busy people. We will do two, maybe three this year then rethink again.
The Authors Corner awaited me. Daniel, back from Gulfstream, and I hauled my 36 books — brought with us on the airplane — down to the booth. Friends dropped by to buy and/or say “hi.” Sales were great! I brought four titles with me. My biggest seller was BJ Erickson: WASP Pilot, my first WASP biography written for a younger market. Today’s girls, tomorrows citizens, future pilots and future women wage earners in other aviation fields need to hear the stories of these outstanding women who flew in World War II. It’s the same book we gave to the Girls in Aviation attendees, talked about in last Friday’s blog.
Erin Miller was across from me with her new book about the yearlong fight to get her WASP grandmother buried in Arlington, Final Flight, Final Fight. All three days we traded off with other authors of women-in-aviation books.
Daniel and Emy took my Nancy Love postcards around the conference hall handing out the enticement to get a sneak preview. Nancy Love: WASP Pilot — my second book written for the young women of today, ages 10 to 14 plus — will be released in May. We’ve offered a link to read a sneak preview of the first two chapters: https://mailchi.mp/cc3a8c311323/nancylove .
Dinner with BJ Erickson’s daughter, Terry, and granddaughter, Kelly, made for a great evening followed by — you guessed it — the pool and the hot tub! Friday brought more books sales. In fact I only had two left at the end of the day. That night, we four Rickmans rode the shuttle back to the harbor. Found a great restaurant — Gilan Pizza & Grill. The young man who greeted us “sold” us on what they offered, and we’re glad we listened.
Saturday was Girls in Aviation Day (last Friday’s blog). I sold my last two books. Amy and the kids went to dinner with friends. I joined several of my friends — all WASP followers — for coffee and a post mortem on the day and the conference as a whole. Then five of us went for dinner — back to the harbor. I drank my first $25 beer. Yes, it was good!
I touched base with many old friends during the conference: my long-time buddy and fellow Ninety-Nine, Jacque Boyd; the TWU/WASP Archives crew, Kimberly Johnson and Sheila Bickle; Carol Cain, from the WASP Museum (she stocks my books!); the crew from Women Military Aviators (Trish Beckman, Peg Carnahan, Claudia McKnight, Margie Varuska, Lucy Young); Captain Sandy Anderson, retired Northwest Airlines pilot; retired Air Force, fellow writer and budding author friend, Monica Smith. At the Long Beach airport, Sunday, I ran into Becky Howell, retired Southwest Airlines pilot friend. We hadn’t connected at the conference.
The four Rickmans headed east from sunny California, landing at DIA — in mid-afternoon sunshine! The blizzard had passed, the snow was almost gone. Home!
Sarah Byrn Rickman
The Wordsmith, LLC