The Glass Ship
by Martin Simons

"He remembered to check that the wind had not changed, made his approach and landed, a very happy man after a flight of an hour forty."

Peter’s life was so boring that he signed up for a week’s course at a gliding club. Preparing to head home that last evening, he was stopped by a young girl frantically waving. He nearly ran her over. The girl’s sister, Julia, had not returned from a flight. Mitch needed help to fetch back the downed glider and pilot. She issued orders to Peter on attaching the tow trailer, but was too young herself to drive the vehicle. Peter wished to go home and call his ex-girlfriend again. But how could he turn down this kid, so like those he taught in classes at school? They found Julia at a bar, drunk and fighting mean.

A sober Julia called to apologize and offer Peter some free lessons. She was a skilled instructor with years of experience and credentials to prove it. So began Peter’s love affair with the glider.

Julia’s glider, or sailplane, had a canopied cockpit with long, slender wings and a fuselage of wood covered in fabric (some were fiberglass). It was towed upward, remained aloft by pilot expertise in riding thermal updrafts, and glided to a landing usually on its belly. In contrast, a hang glider was launched from a height with operator’s feet on the ground at landing.

When did Mitch’s concern for her sister become Peter’s own? He called Mitch “a minx." She affectionately called him “dusty.” Would their age difference and Julia’s growing animosity stand in the way?

Simons and his lead character have much in common. Both are equally entranced by glider mechanics along with flight intricacies. Certain expertise is required by the reader to understand the tragedy that unfolds and eventually brings this novel’s romance to a satisfying conclusion. Wherever the author switches focus to purely technical procedures, the story begins to stall.

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