Back come the fictitious Shannons to help military historian Bourne propel his saga further into the jet age (Roaring Thunder, 2006, etc.).
It’s 1955—the bloody, hot war well over, the scary Cold War at its height. Like the aviation industry, the Shannons—Vince, patriarch, war-time ace, peace-time test pilot, and later, a much respected consulting engineer; Tom and Harry, his twin sons, soaked in the gene pool, career fly-boys—are somewhat in flux, unsettled by the rapid pace of events in their field. Soviet science has them all jittery. Pushed by Khrushchev, the formidable Russians are intent on gaining the kind of air mastery that translates both militarily and geopolitically, and, to the U.S., their work is disturbingly hush-hush, hidden behind that infamous, impenetrable curtain. To meet the challenge, the American design mission must revamp itself. Better, faster jet fighters, yes, of course, but an even more critical need is for a new kind of jet spy plane—something able to soar above radar, something that can fly alone and unobserved in Russian skies, taking vital, tell-all pictures. And, adds Vince, “even more important, bring them back.” As ever, the Shannons are deeply involved—so deeply that other aspects of their lives inevitably suffer. At one point, a beautiful young wife complains that she sees her husband about 30 days out of any given year. “It’s this crazy business,” replies another bitterly. “If I had ever had daughters I would have taught them not to marry anybody in flying.” But flying is what defines men like the Shannons, makes them impossible to live with and at the same time completely remarkable.
Not much of a story, but the history is vivid enough that you might want to take a ride.