In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
Today I am delighted to welcome Sue Moorcroft to my blog. Sue is coming along to my Summer Scorchers Author Event in June where she will be chatting about her new book Just for the Holidays and forthcoming novel Just for Fun which will be out in August.
Just For The Holidays features a rather handsome Helicopter pilot who has had an unfortunate crash. How did Sue research for this character? She got in a helicopter and crashed it. No, really. She did. That is taking research for writing very seriously! I needed to know more! So here is Sue, telling us just what lengths she will go to for her novels and her characters!
The lengths a novelist will go to …
When I posted on Facebook that I was beyond excited because a pilot was going to take me up in a helicopter and pretend to crash it, I received around 70 comments.
The majority of them said, ‘You’re mad!’
But they were all wrong. I was thrilled.
My hero Ronan Shea in Just for the Holidays is a helicopter pilot recovering from a shoulder injury after a forced landing. During my research, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Martin Lovell who owns a helicopter maintenance company, SkyTech Helicopters, and is also the company’s test pilot.
If the engine begins to fail in a single-engine helicopter the pilot has to take prompt action because he can’t park in mid-air. When Martin offered to take me up and demonstrate how the pilot retains full control via the art of ‘autorotation’, bringing the aircraft down at such an angle that the air passing over the rotor keeps it going, I could not believe my luck. I love helicopters and had always wanted to be flown in one. That my first flight was a pretend-crash deterred me not one whit.
I arrived at the airfield on a beautiful day. We walked through the hangar to the black Hughes 500 helicopter in need of a test flight. Martin performed the pre-flight checks and suddenly the door was opened and I was invited inside . . .
Martin strapped me into my seat and gave me a set of headphones and began a running commentary on the instrumentation and which switches he was flicking and why. The engine started and the whump whump whump as the rotor began to turn became faster and faster until the blades were a blur above us. A little hover, then we were turning, tip-toeing across the grass to the runway.
I don’t fully remember the take off. We just whooshed along and up and somehow we were above a village, above a reservoir, above the fields. The Hughes has great visibility, including what’s passing below your feet. Apart from this all-round vision and the fact that we were whizzing along at altitude, the cockpit felt a bit like a car – comfortable leather seats, a heater and a sat nav – but with a lot more banking and swooping.
Once up at 2000 feet Martin told me he would begin the autorotation. He wouldn’t actually switch off the engine (prudent of him) but would proceed as if he had. The RPM died, there was a fast initial drop then we swooped down on a diagonal flight path towards the ground.
It came up to meet us VERY quickly!
At the point where coming down to earth with a bump seemed almost inevitable, Martin ‘flared’ the aircraft and halted the momentum as surely as if he’d been able to apply brakes. In a real autorotation, he would then have performed a run-on landing and the helicopter should have sat down nicely on its skids (unless, as in Ronan’s case, a hidden land hazard was there to trip the helicopter up).
‘All right?’ Martin asked.
I gibbered something like, ‘Yes! That was fantastic! Amazing! Wow! That was fantastic-amazing-wow. That was really fantastic-amazing-wow.’
He turned us around again. ‘Now we’ll do it a bit more realistically, as if the engine’s cut without warning and the pilot has to act fast. That was just a gentle mock up.’
Up we went again. And wheeeeeee! We swooped down to Earth a lot more rapidly this time. Someone in the cockpit went ‘WHOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ and I don’t think it was Martin.
He pulled up at about ten feet and recreated the run-on landing this time. His accuracy was amazing because when we turned and flew back I could see the parallel lines where the skids had parted the longish grass but not touched hard ground.
Pretending to crash in a helicopter was truly awesome. I was exhilarated but never scared. I felt totally secure in the skill of the pilot.
I assumed that we’d pootle back to the hangar but instead we circled up again and flew on (ground speed about 100 knots, so not so much of a pootle) over the town where I went to senior school and over a supermarket my mum had texted me from an hour before, picking out churches and a golf course, ticking off the villages as we flew over them to the town where I now live. We circled over my house and then headed back to base.
I think it took about three minutes to get back to the airfield, a trip that had taken me twenty by car. We flew low-level along the runway so I could get an idea of what speed really feels like in a helicopter (rushy), then came back around and landed tidily outside the hangar.
Everything went quiet . . . apart from my heart, which was still whirring at full knots.
Pretend-crashing in a helicopter? Awesome.
You can buy a copy here
You can read my review for Just for the Holidays here
Tickets for Summer Scorchers have sold out but check my blog for reviews and write ups of the evening. You can follow my blog, visit my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3
See below for my future events for which tickets are still on sale!
If you missed out on tickets for Summer Scorchers - don't miss out on tickets to my next events! Real Life Real Books in in July - link for tickets below and more details on website:
And this event in June is free, but due to limited spaces you need to reserve your space using the link below the poster: