Del Hayes Press

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It's summer, 1940. America struggles to survive a devastating depression, and fears being pulled into the war engulfing Europe. Young Gene Stoddard is desperate, torn between his dream of becoming an airline pilot and his reality that the Depression has made that dream impossible. But on a broiling August Sunday, a Stearman biplane pilot descends into his life and shows him a way to live the life of his dream.

Sunday, December 7, 1941. War that seemed so distant, so unreal, suddenly engulfs America, and Gene Stoddard along with it. He soon finds himself at the controls of America’s newest air weapon, the magnificent B-17 Flying Fortress. Flying dangerous missions from jungle bases in the South Pacific, Gene knows that each time he takes off he is gaining valuable experience. He and his good buddy, Mike, imagine themselves flying passengers across America when the war ends.

On a fateful day, Gene volunteers for a "suicide" mission. With no fighters to protect him and his crew, he is attacked by a swarm of enemy planes. Battling against all odds, the mighty Fortress somehow limps back to base. But Captain Stoddard is unconscious, barely alive, from severe wounds. He awakes in a hospital in Sydney. Standing next to him is Mattie, an attractive, young Aussie, a nurses’-aide.

As his wounds begin to heal, he learns his dream is lost. Lucky to be able to walk, he knows he will never fly again. For Eugene Stoddard, a life without flying seems a life hardly worth living. As Mattie assists Gene in recovering from his wounds, as he tries to deal with life as a “has-been pilot,” they fall inexorably in love.

As they try to establish a new life together, Gene finds the emotional loss of his old dream hard to bear, in spite of finding the dream of his life in Mattie. It takes the shock of nearly losing that dream to help Gene learn what truly makes life worth living.

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