And the people could fly: That winged mechanical monster also requires an imaginative leap

Dimitri is a little boy who lives with his father, and at bedtime, Dimitri spreads his arms out and goes off into the night. “I fly out the window,” he says, and plays with whales and rescues a beautiful woman trapped in a tower on Mars.

The Martians are happy to have their queen back.
They do a jolly dance of joy.
She is not his mother, however…
But he must go home,
And he does. And his dad loves him.

Flying Dimitri, by Blair Dawson (1997) is filed with a blue dot (suggested ages 3 to 6). There’s a lot here, but it’s grounded in the sheer joy of winging through the air.

American flight preferences revolve on a bird of prey that rips apart small animals with talons and beak. Consider Conrad Black’s Flight Of The Eagle: A Strategic History Of The United States (2013, a new arrival filed at 327.73 on the non-fiction shelves). It’s a 700-page tome that analyzes that country’s international role, its diplomats, its foreign policy, its impact on the world. The introduction is by Henry Kissinger, one-time American national security advisor and secretary of state.

But let’s talk mechanical monsters – as in the sort of flight that takes off from the Sherbrooke airfield.

“Airports,” the urbanist Richard Florida has written, “play a major role in city economies by increasing the circulation of goods, people and ideas.” Sherbrooke lost its only regular commercial flights, to Toronto, back in 2009, and the hangars now seem to house only small private planes.

Area politicians say they’ve been fighting long and hard to upgrade the facilities and have the spot designated by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, which would allow commercial passengers easy debarkation. (Embarrassingly, the airport couldn’t cope with the recent Canada Summer Games athletes, who touched down in St-Hubert instead.)

Even so, the airport is worth a visit; you can gaze at the aircraft, grab lunch at the resto, and pick up a copy of the French-language Aviation magazine (which includes a lot of interesting Quebec content).

Flying schools have offices there, and craft can also be hired for tours or longer flights – though a trip to Toronto carries a steep price tag. (A warning for those who do visit: the road leading in to the airport is favoured by deer, as I discovered one day while wondering why there were so many long, frantic skid marks embedded in the asphalt…)

Tintin, the intrepid investigative reporter, spends a lot of time in trains, planes, and automobiles. But oh, those planes! The Lennoxville Library has a collection of author Herge’s works, en francais and in English in the children’s section.

Tintin misses Flight 714 (Vol 714 Pour Sydney), but the airplane in L’Etoile Mysterieuse (originally published in 1946, when flight was an exotic and impressive thing) allows him to beat the bad guys and plop down his flag first, claiming an extraterrestrial chunk that has landed in the ocean. And Tintin’s bright yellow hydroplane is based on an Arado-196, used by German warships from the 1930s. Re-reading the 20-odd Tintin books will make an airplane lover’s day. Or week…

Of course Tintin’s planes can crash, just as can — horrifically — happen in the real world. Sometimes, rarely, everything works out. As in Miracle On The Hudson: The Survivors Of Flight 1549 Tell Their Extraordinary Stories Of Courage, Faith And Determination (William Prochnau and Laura Parker, 2009, a new arrival filed at 363.12).

There was briefly talk of shooting down Flight 1549 as it careened out of control into New York City, threatening to kill who knows how many on the ground as it came down.

Instead, pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger aimed the plane right into the Hudson River. Everyone lived. Everyone.

This book features the stories of the 155 survivors.

Here’s one last book: Wings Of Fire (Dale Brown, 2002, in adult fiction). The Night Stalkers are a group of private mercenaries who only work for the good guys – doing what’s best for America. They’ve got all kinds of happenin’ techno-gadgets – pimped out warplanes, human exo-skeletons, all sorts of things that blow up real good.

The team is led by a retired Air Force general and funded by Sky Masters, which makes its moolah by supplying the US armed forces with all the gadgetry (eventually).

Various storylines are woven together – a Russian baddie convicted by a UN War Crimes Tribunal, Middle East oil, the mujahadeen, political shenanigans, even a teen genius.

Most importantly, Wings Of Fire features lots of cool flying machines, and largely takes place in Libya and Egypt.

Written before the Arab Spring and the American invasion of Libya, Kaddafi has been replaced by a Muslim Brotherhood fan who, at the beginning of the book, is about to assassinate Egypt’s more Westernized leader and put into place a more religiously inclined president.

Please fasten your seatbelt.

– Eleanor Brown, Feb. 21, 2014

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About BiblioLennLibrary

The Lennoxville Library, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, offers free memberships to all residents of Sherbrooke. We have a great selection of books in French and English, plus books on tape and CD, too! Check out our large-print section, our graphic novels... La Biblio Lennoxville se situe dans les Cantons-de-l'Est du Quebec. Les residents de Sherbrooke peuvent devenir membre gratuitement. Nous avons une grande selection de livres en francais et en anglais. Venez donc nous voir! Hours/Heures d'ouverture: Mardi-Tuesday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Mercredi et Jeudi -Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 6pm -- 10h a 18h Vendredi-Friday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Samedi-Saturday, 11am to 4pm -- 11h a 16h Pour plus d'info, vous pouvez nous trouver au http://www.bibliolennoxvillelibrary.ca/ Click on the above to get to our website!
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