Friday, 10 January 2014

Dreams of a travelling writer 1 - Seattle

 For many years I had the wish to visit Seattle, this wish pre-dates my liking of the show "Frasier" and the sight of the famous space needle.

A wish which also pre-dates my sporting interest both the Mariners and the Seahawks.

My wish goes back to my fishing roots and my interest in military history. I like to visit coastal areas not only to get inspiration for stories but because I feel a calmness within myself when I am close to the sea and can feel the winds on my face. I like to try various sea foods too and thought going to Seattle might be an excellent culinary opportunity -- I am a capable cook -- and like to use fish in my recipes.

My interest in aircraft history drew me to Seattle as they house the Boeing collection there and I have for a long time had a great admiration for both the planes and the brave men who flew in them -- comes from the film documentary about "Memphis Belle" -- not the romantic modern version, but the William Wilder 25 minute documentary shot on the real aeroplane.

 Contrary to popular myth -- Memphis Belle -- was not the first to fly 25 missions, that honour belongs to "Sally B," Belle was used as a morale booster at a time when losses were mounting, not all were due to German planes or daylight bombing. If you read the book KG200 you will learn how the Luftwaffe infiltrated the boxes and shot down USAAF planes using captured aircraft manned by Germans. This lead to the development of the YB-40 and the extra waist gun position. The rule of air talk became "Only Navajo Indians can communicate and if the plane didn't respond in Navajo you shoot it down -- no questions asked -- this practice was also used in the Pacific war by radio operators after their communications were tracked by Japanese troops. The film "Windtalkers" is based in fact.

 A sad fact of life, the war ended and these majestic planes along with their successors the B-29 "Superfortress" are now left to rot in the Nevada desert in an are known as "The Boneyard."

Another touch of irony comes into play here -- even though I never got to visit Seattle -- one of my best friends, Julia, who is my editor now lives in Seattle.

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