Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FTP: Fictional Reality

Grounded in a sense of reality, "Flight to Paradise" takes readers on a journey that blends the real world with the imagined. In this post, I will take you to some of the places and events that give life to the story.

The Hotel del Coronado - San Diego, California

This grand hotel is the setting for several scenes in the novel. One scene in particular takes place on the wide beach in front of the hotel. In this scene, Ryan Mitchell and Rex Dean engage two girls: Emily Anderson and Kate Morgan. In the following video clip learn more about the Hotel del Coronado and Kate Morgan.

F-14 Tomcats – Air Combat

In Chapter 5, Ryan and Rex are Navy pilots aboard the USS Nimitz. The date is August 19, 1983. Ryan and Rex are flying a combat air patrol mission over the Gulf of Sidra when they encounter two Libyan, Soviet built Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters. One of the Fitters fired a heat-seeking missile. After evading the missile, Ryan and Rex return fire using AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, shooting down both Libyan fighters.

There were two actual events in the Gulf of Sidra that inspired this scene. The first was in 1981 and the second was in 1989. The 1981 incident would have been more in line with the dates in the novel.

Actual footage from the F-14 dog fight over the Gulf of Sidra - 1989

First Gulf of Sidra Incident in 1981

The Gulf of Sidra incident was a naval engagement in which two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter attack aircraft were shot down by two American F-14 Tomcats from the USS Nimitz. The first Gulf of Sidra incident took place off the Libyan coast on August 19, 1981, during the Cold War. At the time, Republican President Ronald Reagan was in Office, and Omar Kadafi was ruling Lybia.

Libya had claimed a 12 mile extension zone of its territorial waters in the Gulf of Sidra, declaring the territorial waters of the gulf as their own. This prompted US naval forces to conduct Freedom of Navigation operations in the area, the so-called "line of death". These operations intensified when Ronald Reagan came to office on January 20, 1981. In August 1981, he authorized the deployment of a large naval force, led by USS Forrestal and Nimitz, off the Libyan coast.

The Libyan Air Force responded by deploying a high number of interceptors and fighter-bombers. Early on the morning of August 18, when the US exercise began, at least three MiG-25 ‘Foxbats’ approached the US carrier groups, but were escorted. The situation was tense, but neither side fired any weapons, even in at least two cases when MiG-25s tried to breach through the American fighters by flying high and fast.

On August 19, 1981, two F-14 fighters were flying combat air patrol to cover aircraft engaged in a missile exercise. An E-2B Hawkeye from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-124 made radar contact with two Soviet-built Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters aircraft which had left Okba Ben Nafi Air Base near Tripoli. The two F-14s were ordered to intercept. Only a few seconds before the crossing, one of the Libyan fighters fired an AA-2 "Atoll" missile at one of the F-14s, but missed. Then the two Sukhois flew past the Americans and tried to escape.

According to the rules of engagement, the Tomcats were cleared to return, which mandated self defense on the initiation of hostile action. The Americans pilots fired AIM-9L Sidewinders, shooting down the two Libyan aircraft.

Rosecrans National Park – Point Loma – San Diego, California

In Chapter 14, Ryan Mitchell visits Point Loma with a “mission” in mind to win the heart of the girl of his dreams. Ryan plans a visit to three strategic sites: Rosecrans National Cemetery; the Old Light House; and the statue of J.R. Cabrillo.

Point Loma - San Diego, California

If you are interested is seeing more of the "real" sites from the novel, visit the author's website: 

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