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Former aviator delivers another pulse-pounder

By Carol Deegan

Associated Press

"Fire Flight," the new aviation thriller from John J. Nance ("Pandora's Clock," "Turbulence"), sounds the alarm about the problems involved in the use of aging air tankers in fighting forest fires.

When a massive fire threatens to wipe out Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, veteran pilot Clark Maxwell agrees to come out of retirement "and roll the dice once more." However, Maxwell soon finds himself fighting more than the fire.

His friend Jeff Maze is killed when the Douglas DC-6 originally assigned to Maxwell loses a wing and crashes. Was the crash caused by mechanical malfunction, negligence or bad luck?

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Another veteran pilot finds himself in a desperate situation when the left wing of his airplane fails. Coincidence or sabotage? And if it is sabotage, what would be the motive? And who would be responsible?

Maxwell suspects that Jerry Stein, his slightly sleazy boss, may know more than he's letting on. Is Stein risking his pilots' lives by scrimping on safety inspections of the old aircraft used to bomb the fires with fire-retardant slurry? Or is something more sinister going on?

As the fires continue to burn, an unlikely hero emerges -- a civilian driving a $150,000 custom-built, field-capable Humvee, with satellite communications, a global positioning system and gas masks on board.

"Fire Flight" is fueled by testosterone and pulse-pounding excitement, and Nance, a pilot veteran of Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm, writes with authority.

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