airplane projectsReader InterestWriting Techniques

When A Prop is Actually a Plot With a Twist

As I’ve mentioned in my bio, my passion when I’m not writing is building and flying airplanes.  Currently, I am in the process of building a Cozy Mk IV which is a composite canard aircraft.  I thought for a change of pace, I would occasionally post a bit about what I’m doing on the plane here.

Now, I know many people would say that writing about airplanes on an Author’s blog isn’t following the rules.  I would beg to differ.  As I go through the process of building my plane, I see many more similarities with writing a novel.  So, sometimes a prop is actually a plot with a twist.  You just need to know how to twist things around a little.  Let me elaborate.

Currently, I am carving a propeller blade for my Cozy.  The directions for doing this are available on several sites on the internet.  The process of constructing this propeller began with doing several mathematical computations to determine the diameter (how long it is) and the pitch (the amount of angle each blade has).  To do this, the builder must look at several variables:  how much power the engine provides, top speed, RPM of the engine.  Once these are set, the builder must determine what kind of propeller they want.  Will it be maximized for speed or will it be best for getting to altitude fast?  Each of these questions determines the properties of the prop.

In writing, we have to go through the same basic planning.  We need to figure out what kind of story are we writing: A romance? A mystery?  A thriller? Once these are set, we can figure out how fast we want to get through it.  Is it  a novel, a novella, or a short story? Again, each of the answers here will define the properties of the story.

An added benefit of this is that I often like to combine my two passions, writing and airplanes, and often one or more of my characters is involved with aviation.  For that matter, in the Dreams series, the main character, Miranda Cassidy, flies a Cozy that she built.  So, by my going through the process of building my own plane, I can actually do several things.  I am doing research for a book, so i know what the character is going through, I am able to explore a different side of a character so the reader knows them better and I’ve got an activity that can be used when the character needs some down time.  Miranda often does her best thinking while she’s taking a flight.

The other side of using my aviation experiences is that it gives me a chance to introduce other people to some of the ideas about aviation that they haven’t really thought about.  Not everyone grew up knowing a pilot (I didn’t, but I’ve had a life long love affair with aviation!) By talking about it in some detail (not enough to totally confuse the reader) it opens the reader to possibilities.  And that’s what it’s all about.

So, where am I with my prop?  I’ve decided to go with a mid-range prop (68″ diameter, 72″ pitch).  I am making the core of the prop from premium grade pine (no knots) and it will be covered with several layers of fiberglass to give it the strength that it will need to withstand the structural forces.  At this stage, I have done all my calculations and have figured out the actual dimensions of the prop, and have purchased the pine.  I am hoping that in the next week or so that I will begin the process of gluing the layups together and begin carving it to shape.  I’ll keep you posted.

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