Posted by: harrisonjones | June 10, 2011

Equal Time Point excerpt

Someone asked me today if my new novel featured any of the characters from my first book, Equal Time Point. There are a few common characters and in the following excerpt, from Equal Time Point, Captain Charlie Wells and Flight Attendant Britt Johnson also appear in Shadow Flight. The scene is the initial portion of a trans-Atlantic flight from Atlanta to Madrid, Spain. The calm before the storm so to speak.


            The flight benefited from a forty knot following wind, and sped rapidly to the east as the sun dipped lower in the sky behind them. The air was clear and smooth and Charlie and Robby chatted and enjoyed the view.

            “Tri Con Eleven, contact New York Center on 132.85.”

            “Three-two point eight-five, Tri Con Eleven, so long.”

            “Good evening, New York, Tri Con Eleven with you level at three-three-zero.”

            “Tri Con Eleven, New York, good evening sir. How’s the ride?”

            “It’s been real smooth so far. Have you had any reports?”

            “Yes sir, you can expect some light to moderate at three-three-zero once you pass JFK.”

            “Thanks for the warning.”

            Charlie had been watching flashes of lightning in the distance for the last hundred miles or so. “I guess the forecast was right about the scattered thunderstorms.”

            He turned on the radar, extended the range, and adjusted the antenna tilt down slightly. The screen painted a line of thunderstorms extending to the northeast of JFK. They were separated by forty miles or so and each one featured a red center of heavy rain surrounded by a larger area of green or yellow indicating lighter precipitation. He transferred the image to the NAV screen to see exactly where the storms were in relation to their planned course.  “Looks like they’re scattered along the beach. We should be able to deviate a little to the right and miss them. We’ll wait till we get closer.”

            The lights on the ground were beginning to define cities that were not apparent in sunlight from thirty-three thousand feet. The clouds beneath them were scattered to broken now but a few minutes later Charlie could clearly see Manhattan and New York Harbor as they approached.

            “Robby, why don’t you play tour guide and tell the people about the Big Apple?”

            Robby punched the PA button and gave the announcement that he had repeated a hundred  times before. “I hope I didn’t wake Tony.”

            “Yeah, there’s a lot of reasons why nobody likes first break. Let’s see if they’ll let us go right for a little while, Robby.”

            “New York, Tri Con Eleven, we’d like to deviate right to miss the boomers up ahead.”

            “Tri Con Eleven, deviate right of course as necessary, let me know when you can go direct Boston.”

            “Tri Con Eleven, will do, thank you sir.”

            Charlie selected a heading twenty degrees to the right and pulled the knob that changed the autopilot mode from Nav to Heading. The interphone chime sounded and Robby answered, “I asked you not to call me at work.”

            Britt said, “You and Alice should team up and do a nightclub act. Are you gentlemen ready to dine?”

            He looked at Charlie and got a thumbs up. They had already perused the menu and made selections.

            “Yes ma’am, one beef and one chicken.”

            “How about beverages?”

            “Do you have a nice Chardonnay?”

            “Of course, would you like a couple of tequila shooters to go with it?”

            “Maybe later when the boss goes on break. For now just a couple of bottled waters.”

            “Give me a few minutes, I’ll call you back.”

            Charlie turned another five degrees to the right and watched Mother Nature’s light show with the cloud to cloud lightning over Long Island.

            “Tri Con Eleven, traffic at one o’clock, two-zero miles, a Boeing 747 at flight level three-one zero.”

            “We’re looking.”

            Charlie reached up and turned on the bright white fuselage lights and as they looked ahead they saw another bright set of lights illuminate on the 747. The twenty miles was already less than ten with a closure rate of over a thousand miles per hour between the two airplanes.

            “We have the traffic in sight, Tri Con Eleven.”

            “Roger sir.”

            “He must be deviating too,” said Charlie.

            They confirmed the other aircraft’s altitude on their TCAS indicator and watched him disappear under the nose. Robby wrote down the time and fuel abeam JFK and announced that they were making time and fuel. They were now one minute late and only down six hundred pounds of fuel.

            The interphone chime sounded again and Britt gave the password to enter the cockpit. Robby pushed the unlock button and when the door opened they could smell hot food. Britt and Pat brought the trays in and Charlie placed the aircraft log book on his lap and set the food tray on it. He had learned long ago that the trays often had food on the bottom where they had been stacked on top of each other. The logbook saved embarrassment and cleaning bills.

            Pat asked, “Was that really New York a few minutes ago or are you guys making stuff up?”

            Robby said, “We’re not positive but it sounded good, don’t you think?”

            “If I didn’t know you Robby I would probably believe it.”

            Britt asked, “Are we on time so far?”

            Charlie said, “We’re one minute late but we’re working on it.”

            “Tri Con Eleven, contact Boston Center 134.55.”

            “Three-four point five-five, Tri Con Eleven, good night ya’ll.”

            Robby enjoyed calling New Yorkers ya’ll.

            “Boston Center, Tri Con Eleven at three-three zero, deviating east of course for weather.”

            “Tri Con Eleven, Boston, radar contact, deviations approved, let me know when you can come back to the left.”

            “Will do, sir.”

            Charlie said, “That’s Providence, Rhode Island over there.”

            Pat said, “How do you know?”

            “Because, it says PVD on my navigation screen.”

            “Sounds like men’s underwear to me.”

            “That’s BVD, Pat.”

            “I thought you said it was Providence.”

            “You’re right, we’re lost.”

            “I thought so.”

            Britt said, “You two sound like Abbot and Costello doing ‘Who’s on first.”’ I’m getting dizzy; let me know when to pick up the trays.”

            Pat said, “I’m leaving too. When you finish dinner, try to find out where we are.”


            Allen had turned his video screen to the Air Show and asked Molly, “Are these guys lost? Why are we over New York if we’re going to Spain? Why didn’t we just go straight east across the Atlantic?”

            “New York is east of Atlanta, Allen.”

            “Well, I’m not sure but I think a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.”

            “You can’t draw a straight line on a round ball, Allen.”

            He paused to think about that and looked out the window, “Look, they just turned on the outside lights; that doesn’t make any sense at thirty-three thousand feet.”


  1. Harrison,

    Always a pleasure reading your blog. This one in particular took me back to the Equal Time Point novel and my favorite character Charlie Wells. What a great storyline in the book and Captain Wells plays the hero while remaining the kind of character that stays in humor and teaching mode yet still comes off as a real likable character that has left me wanting to learn more about his life.

    So glad to know that Charlie and Britt make it into your upcoming novel Shadow Flight. I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the free sneak peaks! When exactly can we all purchase the book?

    Thanks and Have a great weekend!


  2. Thanks for the comment and the kind words, Harold. Charlie and Britt will always be special to me, but I hope you’ll enjoy the cast of Shadow Flight as well. The new book is scheduled for release July first and we’re really excited about it. Hope you have a great weekend as well.

  3. Just finished reading Equal Time Point Harrison. Excellent read. I love how both books can stand alone, since I read Shadow Flight first then Equal Time Point. I love that some of the characters from Equal Time Point make it into Shadow Flight. Anxiously awaiting the next

    • I appreciate your choosing to read both books, Jeanne. Writing is fun, editing is a nightmare, publishing is challenging, and marketing takes me completely out of my element. I have got to be the world’s worst salesman so I take encouragement where ever I can. You’re very kind to comment.

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