The Adventures of Duncan Hunter

The Adventures of Duncan Hunter

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What is Bill McGee's Real Function?

One of the underlying themes of the Duncan Hunter books is that there are certain CIA files that are so explosive that they cannot be divulged nor can they be accessed without presidential approval.  In Special Access, the documents contained within the CIA file on the president proves he is not who he claims to be.  In Shoot Down, there was an ongoing CIA file to pay terrorists a yearly ransom to prevent commercial aircraft from being shot out of the sky by shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.  In No Need to Know, an ancient pre-CIA file lists artwork hidden by the Nazis.  Another file attempts to track missing suitcase nuclear devices after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Executing these operations cannot be done by a single person.  Duncan Hunter largely provides the "aviation solution" while Bill McGee is the "ground solution."  They work together as a team.  Not everything can be done from the air while not everything can be accomplished from the ground.  There is synergy in this construct.  Once McGee is brought onto the team, the counterterrorism missions assume a new scope; they become more kinetic, more lethal.  As the new missions become more lethal, from the air and on the ground, Duncan Hunter's flying "liberal" partner can no longer be a part of them and walks away from the program.  The YO-3A gains new more lethal capabilities and Hunter becomes an airborne assassin for the CIA.  Hunter discovers he cannot perform the missions by himself and needs help.  For help, he turns to his friend from the war college, for there is no finer ground warrior than the former super SEAL Bill McGee.

Bill McGee also does things and gets into places no one else possibly could.  He's a "break down the door" kind a guy.  He's trying to balance his love for his wife and girls with the work he has done for all of his adult life.  It's something special operations warriors sometimes just cannot walk away from.  The thrill and excitement.  But also, when you are the only one that can do a particular job, you are loyal to your country and you do it.  A real man smiles in the face of trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.  These are traits and characteristics of a loyal and professional soldier.  Those that lean left politically cannot understand that. 

Maverick out!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bill McGee is an Interesting Character

Captain William McGee, U.S. Navy SEAL, retired is a major composite character.  I met a few Navy SEALs at the Naval War College but none were more impressive than our class president, his actual name will not be revealed here.  I had the honor and privilege of sitting next to this real war hero during assemblies and a few social events.  I also had the good fortune to share with him my very limited contact with SEALs.  Mostly, I had attended flight school with a former SEAL, someone he knew.  As he said, one of "his good guys."  He left an impression on me.  There were things about him that I could only assume would have made great copy, even a book.  We talked shop and careers and avoided operational stuff.  We didn't talk politics.  We played a little racquetball--well, one of us did.  I swear the man could do everything well, except play racquetball.  His Schwarzenegger physique, culled from hours in the weight room, telegraphed his athletic prowess, his ability to survive in the most difficult of conditions, as well as his lethality.  People would think he was Schwarzenegger's Predator character without the make up and the crazy helmet.  Nightmarish bad.

Readers of Special Access are introduced to my very special SEAL.  As Duncan Hunter learned, Captain Bill McGee was the most decorated special operations warrior in special operations history.  He was Special Operations Command 9-1-1 response.  When America needed bad guys eliminated or neutralized, they'd call McGee. Finding and killing the enemies of America was his specialty.  McGee has tremendous interest in airplanes as he was the son of one of the original WWII Tuskegee Airmen.  McGee was disqualified from becoming a pilot because of poor color and distance vision, so he became a SEAL.  

I gave him tiny round eyeglass lenses like Alan west to give him the air of being incredibly smart as if he were a scholar.  There was nothing he couldn't do, except one thing.  When America needed him most, after 9/11, he couldn't find the master terrorist Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan.  When the CIA personally blamed him for failing to find Osama bin Laden, McGee was relieved of command and removed from Special Operations Command.  No one really knew why the legendary Navy SEAL was sent packing to the Naval War College.  The master of his profession, his 35-year career wasn't supposed to end as a student.  With his professional life in tatters, McGee invites Hunter to sit with him in the auditorium.  In a business where he had few friends, he lowered his defenses and he and Hunter become fast friends.  McGee didn't know it then, but he couldn't have found a truer friend.  And friends always come running when there is trouble.

Maverick out!
The Development of Nazy Cunningham

The Prophet Mohammad took four girls as concubines.  He took a nine-year old as a bride.  Radical Islamist groups destroy towns and villages in order to capture women and sell them or make them sex slaves.  It begs the question, does Islam have a problem with women?  To a great degree, yes; in almost every Muslim country in the Middle east women have little to no power and the vast majority have lost their freedom.  One could argue Muslim women once had amazing freedom; they attended the best universities in Cairo, Tehran, Damascus, and Islamabad and received degrees in engineering and medicine.  When they graduated college in the 40s, 50s, 60, and even the 70s, school graduation photographs clearly show the men wore business suits and women wore dresses and heels in the Western style.  Today, the Islamic world has been de-Westernized.  Today, under threat of pain or death, women are forced to hide their hair, their arms and legs.

Some are unable to drive cars.  They are subject to arranged marriages.  They have very few rights, if any.  This is the essence of terrorism--which is defined as violence or intimidation to achieve a political goal.  Muslim women must submit or pay the price.  They would fight back if they could.  Who could possibly support fanatical Muslims inflamed for sharia, car bombs, and female genital mutilation?

When you are engaged in the business of counterterrorism, your direct goal is to destroy radical Islamists and by extension, you are indirectly fighting for the freedoms Muslim women have lost or never had.  The Nazy Cunningham character represents what happens when a Muslim woman is faced with the dilemma, either continue to submit and live a life under actual or the threat of violence or intimidation--by those fanatical Muslims hot for sharia and female genital mutilation--or run away or escape from the religion that facilitates such conditions to exist and its influences, and embrace freedom.  In Special Access, after Nazy (as Marwa) is beaten by her husband she makes the decision to escape from her life.  Before she races to the airport, she begins fighting back in one final act of defiance.

In the Duncan Hunter books, the amazing Nazy Cunningham continues to explore freedom and the potential of a full life.  As a CIA analyst, she is fully committed to fight the fanatical Muslims, the very group that seeks to subjugate, punish and destroy her as well as the country that has allowed her the freedom to blossom as a free woman.  She is in the fight to demolish the evil that resides in the radical strain of Islam.
Maverick out!

Monday, September 26, 2016

What is Nazy Cunningham's Real Function?

One of the underlying themes of the Duncan Hunter books is that there are certain CIA files that are so explosive that they cannot be divulged nor can they be accessed without presidential approval.  In Special Access, the documents contained within the CIA file on the president proves he is not who he claims to be.  In Shoot Down, there was an ongoing CIA file to pay terrorists a yearly ransom to prevent commercial aircraft from being shot out of the sky by shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.  In No Need to Know, an ancient pre-CIA file lists artwork hidden by the Nazis.  Another file attempts to track missing suitcase nuclear devices.

Nazy has risen up through the ranks of the CIA to become one of their most trusted senior intelligence service executives.  She found Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan and she got to interrogate him.  Her resume is full of accomplishments finding terrorists that don't want to be found or she interrogates them in Guantanamo Bay.  Or other places.  She didn't just renounce Islam, she escaped or some would say she defected.  Much the same way senior intelligence officials defected from the Soviet Union or Eastern Bloc countries and came to work for the US or British intelligence communities, Nazy followed that career path.  She escaped from an abusive radical Muslim husband and returned to America; embraced Christianity. 

Nazy is the antithesis of a politically liberal woman.  She loves America.  America is the only country founded on great and noble ideals.  She embraces America for what it is in the world, the last great hope for freedom loving people everywhere.  She is on the side of America that is continually being attacked from every quadrant of the globe where evil tries to propagate and allow totalitarianism to take hold and reside.  She has seen the face of evil, having been drawn into the politically evil side of Islam through a forced marriage, and has committed herself to do the ugly work necessary to uncover evil, root it out, and make and keep America safe.  She is growing into becoming an exceptional American and patriot.  And as a senior intelligence executive, she is entrusted with managing some of the nation's most incredible and damaging secrets.  Sometimes a few of those most secret of secrets need "outside action."  When those rare situations arise, she is the conduit for Greg Lynche as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to become aware of a particular problem which threatens the USA.  Nazy is also, sometimes, the conduit for Duncan Hunter to execute the special access or the blackest of the "black" programs. 

Nazy's life has been a remarkable one.  Her path to America as a safe haven was turned upside down when she is forced to spy on a man.  With no training, she was a crappy and unmotivated spy.  When she met the man she was to spy on, she found peace, comfort, and safety in the arms of Duncan Hunter.  The spark between them was virtually instantaneous.  Nazy and Hunter are soulmates.  They only have eyes for each other.  Their work keeps them apart for operational and practical reasons.  But when they are able to push work to the side and get together, you know sparks fly.

Maverick out!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Nazy Cunningham Character

The idea for Nazy Cunningham came from several sources.  Like the other characters in the Duncan Hunter books, she is a composite character.  In my travels to the Middle East I ran across/met a young Jordanian woman who was the personal secretary for a senior government official.  Her name was "Marwa."  Her English was the formal King's English--without a British accent.  I was taken aback that she graduated from the Yale University Law School.  She wore a head scarf.  I saw her several times when I visited the office and each time she would greet me with a hearty handshake and a smile.  Then she got married and the next and last time I saw her, of course she could not shake my hand nor could she be touched by a man that wasn't her husband.  I knew the rules and that was ok.  But the rest of the story was she had married poorly and her husband was a jealous man and beat her.

Then I came across an interesting woman on Al Gore's amazing internet.  Before she was George Clooney's wife, Amal Alamuddin was another Arabic lawyer who was sort of an Islamic apologist and more of the type of person I wanted Duncan's Hunter's love interest to be like.  Tall, good looking, and the "apologist" in her appealed to me as I was looking for a situation where the future love interest would question her Muslim faith after being blackmailed into spying on an infidel.  The infidel being Duncan Hunter, of course.  She renounces Islam, he turns her and off she goes to the CIA to be an analyst.

But Nazy Cunningham had to be stunning.  Someone who would literally make the racquetball-happy Duncan Hunter stop in his tracks at the first sight of her and then, also literally, flip over onto his back as he tried to recover from chasing a racquetball in a court to spying the woman in the stands.  Imagine Roger Federer chasing a tennis ball and right before he swings at it with his racquet, in the corner of his eye he sees this beauty in the stands and for a split second he forgets what's he's doing on the court to "take a peek" at her.  When he blinks, he realizes he is supposed to be swinging a racquet at the ball, misses wildly, and the momentum of the distraction causes him to cartwheel onto his back.  That is what "Marwa" did to Duncan during their first encounter.  Add some green eyes to reflect her royal Persian ancestry and a cover name, given to her by the CIA.  In Persian, Nazy means "cute." 

What does Nazy really look like?  When I saw the 2014 Miss Netherlands walk out onto the stage during the Miss Universe Pageant in a yellow low-cut dress, I about fell out of my seat as I said aloud, pointing like a fool, "That's Nazy!"  Duncan's favorite color is yellow.  Synchronicity.  No brainer.  That dress might make an appearance in book #4. 
Maverick out!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Airplanes

One of Duncan Hunter's most amazing talents, right behind uncovering the deepest of the undercover spies and driving Nazy Cunningham wild, is his uncanny ability to stumble upon rare aircraft or airplanes that have been lost to history.  Often these are one-off designs or "special purpose" aircraft, such as a Bugatti racer that was designed for an "across Europe" race in the 1930s.  I read recently this lost Bugatti racer will actually take to the skies in the very near future.

In my fourth book, another 1930s-era aviation race sets the plot for the remaining novel.
Why bother?  For starters, Duncan Hunter's YO-3A almost never got built.  Like countless other interesting and fantastic designs that never made the leap off the drawing board to the runway, I think these historically-significant airplanes should be part of the discussion.  When I flew a jet, I rarely had time to think about the aircraft that had come before mine or the pilots who braved the elements to advance the fledgling aviation industry, one airplane at a time. 

So expect to see more unusual or rare aircraft when Duncan Hunter least expects to find a lost aviation treasure.

Maverick out!
Old CIA Files

Not just any CIA files but old files.  Files that should have been sent to the archives or the burn bag but somehow managed to pop up in the most unusual settings or at the most inappropriate times.  The old CIA files Duncan Hunter is exposed to are, with apologies to Thomas Alva Edison, 90% inspiration, 10% perspiration.  An illegal alien that becomes the President--there just has to be a hidden file on him-- and the CIA and all the President's men are looking for it.  The President does negotiate with terrorists and pays the terrorist billions--again, there just has to be a file because there has to be a black program that has CIA agents facilitating the payments.  In No Need to Know, several unrelated old files come together for an explosive story.

Purposely, there is a little bit of truth in these imaginary old CIA files.  They are ripped from today's headlines.  Today we learned the current CIA Director voted for the 1980 Communist Party Presidential candidate, Gus Hall.  The book on the DCI is that he also converted to Islam many years ago, and the news he had voted for the Communist Party" while taking a polygraph, was simply stunning.  In Shoot Down readers are introduced to Dr. Bruce Rothwell, CIA Director who is not only a closet Communist but converted to Islam to better infiltrate terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.  Some things you can make up only to find out they are true--change the name of course.

And then there is the President.  In book four, Blown Cover, readers are introduced to the man whose file was released by one Duncan Hunter.  He is described by his name, for he was named after a famous Russian, a famous Muslim, and his African family.  Maxim Mohammad Matabaa.  A Soviet-style  socialist at heart, he once described the Muslim call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.” 

And some files come from unusual sources, like defectors.  These can often provide a treasure trove of old intelligence that is relevant for today's world view and foreign policy.

Old files, old pilots, old airplanes, old CIA guys, old SEALs.  And one young incredibly beautiful CIA senior executive that is in the middle of them all. 

Maverick out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Terrorists, Communists, and Bad Guys--Oh My!

In Duncan Hunter’s world there are three major nemeses that he confronts: master international terrorists, cunning communists, and those closet terrorists and communists who have infiltrated the government and whose policies are wreaking havoc on regular Americans.  In Special Access, a democratic President is discovered to be not only an “illegal alien” but consorted with the world’s worst master terrorists.  Shoot Down, a democratic President first ignored a legitimate threat posed to commercial aviation.  Then when an aircraft is shot out of the sky, he pays the ransom to stop the killing  but doesn’t go after the terrorists who shoots airplanes out of the sky for profit.  In No Need to Know, the former CIA Director is both a former KGB officer as well as an Islamic sympathizer before he is run out of Washington DC for sexual misconduct.  In Special Access, Shoot Down, and No Need to Know, Duncan Hunter is responsible for the downfall of the high-ranking officials who had been successful infiltrating the highest levels of the US government.

In my next book, the actions of communist leaders in the 1930s set the stage for all future aviation espionage and terrorism.  Like all of my books, there’s a significant element of truth (factual aviation history) to set the stage for the story and plot line.   The old Soviet Union really did steal British and American aircraft plans.   Sometimes Russians and the French would collaborate to hide the truth of a tragedy when it suited both parties.  And again, the real truth is hidden behind a curtain of top secret security clearances and old CIA files.

Maverick out!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Developing a Nemesis that Cannot be Spoken

My Duncan Hunter books operate in the clandestine world.  Spyplanes, top secret clearances, black programs.  The routine bad guys are the usual fare of Islamic terrorists the KGB and their communist buddies.  With that group there's not a lot of work needed to develop an antagonist or two.  And then there is the press.  Specifically today's press.  In the 1920s, 30s, 40s the relationship between the U.S. government and the press was different in those days.  Many reporters were routinely trusted with secret information to be used as "background" for stories.  As an example, journalists would never consider discussing or reporting on President Franklin Roosevelt’s paralysis after contracting polio.  Few know the KGB was well aware of this relationship and worked tirelessly to exploit the confidential access of American reporters.  The USSR sponsored coursework in Moscow to teach editors the fine art of propaganda.
From the 50s to the present day, the USSR and Russia have continually recruited and used journalists across the world as spies.  Newspapers across the country, and even Time magazine was a hotbed of spies and pro-Soviet activity.  Whittaker Chambers, a Time editor, was a Soviet spy and courageously switched sides and blew the lid off on the communist network and their influence in the press and the government.  In Duncan Hunter's world, there is an abundance of evidence that journalists continue to work on behalf of the KGB and now the Russians.  In Duncan Hunter's world, he despises the media.  The media today makes it about themselves.  They are celebrities.  They're on late night shows and magazine covers.  They think they are kingmakers, to a degree.  Politicians from both sides kiss up to the media and the media actually thinks they're important; the media today think that what they say really matters.  Duncan Hunter is fond of saying, "The greatest power of the media is its power to ignore."  Instead of guys reporting the news, these guys selectively report what they want and then spin what they report.  In Duncan Hunter's world, the media is a criminal enterprise disguised as a legitimate business.  In Duncan Hunter's world, the media is an extension of the criminal enterprise that is the democrat party.

When Duncan Hunter is "working" he has to worry about the KGB, the terrorists, and the media.  The former two just want to kill him; the latter would just be happy to expose him.

Maverick out!
The Idea for a Nemesis

Leaving the adventure of a lifetime and not being able to fly the Beast was devastating.  I threw myself into my new work.  I was a burgeoning champion racquetball player and I was winning medals running, riding a bike, and playing racquetball.  New ideas came to me when I was running.  I started attending grad school and worked on an MBA.  Much of my new job involved writing and of course, homework was an every night affair.  I did boatloads of homework and there was no time to write.  One of the stories banging around my head, like a BB in a boxcar, involved a murderous pilot.  With no computers, word processors or typewriters available—I wrote out a plot longhand.
When everyone in my class turned in their 35-page papers, my master’s thesis was a 105-page monstrosity.  I argued that there will never be another airplane like the supersonic Concorde, for a variety of reasons. 
One of the more interesting reasons no one would build a follow-on airplane, no “Son of Concorde,” was because of the growing influence of environmentalists who railed at anything and everything, and somehow convinced a body of politicians that the jets were so bad, that if they were built, they would pollute the upper atmosphere and extinguish life on Earth.  These Luddites seemed to be related to the morons I encountered in Boulder, Colorado.  And these guys were deadly and dedicated.  Some of the things the left and the environmentalists did to stop the Concorde was to try to damage it before takeoff or during landing; they would try to throw ball bearings into the engine intakes. 
Few airport incursions by these wackos were ever officially reported.  Why write about a murderous pilot when there were potential murderers seemingly always trying to take down a jet?  Over the years, environmentalists, hijackers, and terrorists have all tried to down or attack jets or aircrews or passengers in their own evil way.  I bundle them all together and call them "aviation terrorists."   And because these guys (in the real world) are supported and bankrolled by radical and oftentimes communist elements, they are the villains in my books.  
James Bond fought world-dominating megalomaniacs with his crazy toys.  Duncan Hunter fights aviation terrorists with his YO-3A spyplane. 

Maverick out!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Duncan Hunter's Political Awakening

I left the Marine Corps to attend college.  Enrolled at the University of Colorado.  I had been accepted at the Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder campuses.  I thought Boulder would be a nice beautiful place to live and study.  As I toured the school, I encountered a phalanx of filthy dope-smelling hippies.  Nasty critters.  They didn’t want any part of me with my short haircut and they were more than vocal that a baby killer like myself would never be welcome in Boulder.  That day was the beginning of my political awakening.  I went to school at the Denver campus.

A year later I was back in the Marine Corps.  I soon received an officer’s commission and I headed to Pensacola for flight school.  Three years later I was scheduled for my first flight in the F-4 Phantom.  The date was January 28, 1986.  My instructor and I walked to our jet one hour after the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart, 73 seconds after liftoff.  After countless hours in the simulator, I flew that jet like a pro.  My instructor even accused me of being an Air Force pilot.  How many people can say they attained one of their childhood dreams?  But my dreams of flying the F-4 soon turned into a nightmare. 

In the high G environment of dogfighting, my hands and feet would go numb, and I would lose my sense of touch.  The coordinated use of stick, throttle and rudder is all a function of touch and as long as I wasn’t pulling Gs, I was a fairly stellar pilot.  However, in a high-G environment, I couldn’t feel what I was doing and I had suddenly become very dangerous to my fellow pilots.  No more supersonic jets.  Goodbye F-4 pilot.  Hello aircraft maintenance officer.  I was off to fly a desk.  Oh joy.  I needed a distraction and if you can no longer fly the big badass jets, yellow Corvette convertibles are wonderful things.

Next, life after jets.

Maverick out!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

More Duncan Hunter Adventures

It wasn’t long after my Dilbert-dunking episode that I was back on my bicycle, avoiding the pond, exploring the woods and the trees that enveloped the air base.  One day, deep in the woods, I came across a hill to race down, only to have the ground fall out from under me.  A thick pile of leaves broke my fall.  Stunned I was still alive, I found myself staring, upside down, into the maw of a cave. 

After somewhat cavalierly escaping death from the frozen pond, for some internal reason now I was scared shitless.  I flipped around, still flat on my back, when I noticed high above the cave’s opening, drilled into the rock face the intricate design of an eagle with elongated wings clutching a wreath.  Inside the wreath, a swastika.  I had seen Nazi bunkers before along the autobahn but the cave was unlike anything I had seen before.  I had no idea what I tumbled into and after the ass-chewing I received after escaping the pond, I wasn’t about to find out the hard way.  I dragged my bike out between the two concrete rocks, pedaled out of there as fast as my high top Converse shoes could spin that bicycle crank.  I never shared my little-kid adventure with the Nazi bunker with anyone until I incorporated it into my book, No Need to Know.  I had so many more "less lethal" but "wild adventures" that I didn't know what "normal" was.

We moved back to the "States."  My friends in Texas and Colorado had never experienced anything remotely or tangentially to those, what I called "my wild adventures" in Germany.  No one ever believed me; it was best to just keep my mouth shut and do my thing.  They grew up in the suburbs with a park with a swing set and a park bench nearby.  I looked at the world I was now living in much more differently.  No more forests to ride through, no more fighter jets to excite me, no more free ranging fun and adventures except those I "manufactured" living in the suburbs of Denver.  How I didn’t get caught doing incredibly stupid and risky things and got hauled off to jail are still some of the greatest mysteries of the universe.  My mother was grateful I turned my pent up energies to work.  My greatest passion remained the bent winged jets.  With no air base nearby,  I couldn’t see them.  I delivered newspapers, made pizzas for Shakey’s Pizza Parlor, shoveled snow, cut grass, and worked in the yards of my neighbors.  While my friends were stealing money from their folks to smoke dope, I was buying audio equipment, records, models, Hardy Boys books, and nice clothes.  I had crushes on the best looking girls in school.  Of course they didn’t know I existed.  When I signed up to join the Marines, my father said, "They'll kill you."

They didn't.  I got my pilot wings.  The ultimate adventure.  One of the best decisions of my life. 

Maverick out!


Friday, September 16, 2016

The Adventures of Duncan Hunter

It is not an unfair analysis that like me, Duncan Hunter was largely a typical boy with typical 1950s parents.  When you're a kid you don't know what is abnormal unless you see something that is clearly outside your world of normal.  Living in Germany in the 1960s I came aware of airplanes and cars.  Our next door neighbor drove a light blue Corvette Stingray.  1963 "split-window."  It was the most beautiful car I had ever seen, and it was next door!  I obviously smeared the man's windows when I tried to look inside.  All the time.  No garage, it sat outside.  I saw the German cars, some French cars.  By comparison, there was no comparison to the Corvette.  Then a 1964 black Jaguar XKE showed up on the base, then a red 1965 Mustang.  A 1959 Mercedes SL and a 1963 Porsche 356 were very nice.  But for me, it was over.  The Jag and the Corvette were the cars.  Sleek and fast.  V-8 and V-12 noisemakers.  In addition to building airplane models, I started building car models of my favorite cars.

On Sundays I'd get a dime to buy a comic.  More adventures with Superman and Spiderman.  There is no doubt I had one of the original Spiderman comics in my possession.  And then, with the Hardy Boys, the adventure and mystery bug was firmly planted in my head.  I knew the Corvette owner was a pilot.  So was the Jag's owner.  Seemed to be part of a club that only the adults understood.
At Ramstein, I was allowed to run free.  Few places were off limits as I rode my bike all over the heavily forested air base.  With freedom came a sense of the adventurousness I found in the books that my mother and I would get when we visited the library.  That adventurousness nearly killed me one day when I tried to walk across a frozen pond.  When I found myself at the bottom of the pond, I was more surprised than panicked.  I distinctly remember that the hole in the ice high above my head shone like a yellow beacon.  Like I would push off from the bottom of the base swimming pool, I pushed off from the bottom of the pond and I shot straight up through that hole like a submarine’s emergency blow and breaching the surface.  It’s one of the few memories that is still very clear in my old mind.   I busted ice with my elbows and clawed my way across the ice to get out of the freezing water.  I was hypothermic; shivering uncontrollably, and I didn’t really know I close I came to dying.  But I lived through it.  A new car to discover, a new jet to identify, and living through a near-death experience was the essence of adventure for a kid.  My experiences are where Duncan Hunter get's his sense of adventure.
Maverick out! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Yes, there's a little aviation history in my books.

I've always been nuts about airplanes, jets, and helicopters.  Learned aviation history and built models of Air Force fighters and WWI tri-planes as a kid.  Read about the adventures of Manfred von Richthofen and Eddie Rickenbacker.  I read everything I could get my hands on if it pertained to planes, pilots, and patriots.  The family moved to Ramstein Air Force Base about the same time the US Air Force introduced the F-4 Phantom II fighter jet into Germany.  I was struck dumb and mute at first sight of that jet.  Up close it was huge, imposing, and intimidating.  As long as a semi with a forty-foot trailer.  I made a commitment to one day fly the magnificent aluminum animal with the funny bent wings.  I was sure the men who flew them must have been some kind of gods.  Every opportunity I had to see the big bad jets, I took it.

When the weather was crappy, I’d write a little bit about pilots and planes and spies.  Why couldn't there be a pilot that was also a spy?  Gary Powers was shot down over the USSR.  Pilot, plane, spy.  It took a while before I learned enough about the CIA and the airplanes they had built for their use.  But passively flying the airplanes wasn't going to be enough.  The pilot in my books had to be actively "involved" in secret missions.  In the air and on the ground.  Thus was the idea for my protagonist and hero, Duncan Hunter. 

Wandering through my books you'll notice there are actual airplanes few people have heard of.  Some have been lost to history.  The quiet YO-3As, a special-built "racer" Beechcraft Staggerwing, even a Bugatti fall into that category.  I taught an aircraft and spacecraft development course, which is a cleverly disguised aviation history class.  The difference between spyplanes and the others are numbers.  McDonnell built over 5,000 F-4 Phantoms.  Only a handful of "special purpose" are built.  Everyone knows about the SR-71 and maybe the U-2, but when only 11 YO-3As were built and flown for a very short period, hardly anyone even knows they exist.  The folks at the Quiet Aircraft Association knows all about the publicity-free YO-3A and the Quiet Thruster family of powered gliders. 

Aviation history.

Maverick out!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Why do I write?

My mother loved to read; anything and everything.  I was about eight or nine when she allowed me to read Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love and Alistair MacLean’s Ice Station Zebra.  In different ways, both authors left a mark on me.  We were in West Germany, my father was in the Air Force and we lived six miles from the East German border.  East German MiGs would sometimes fly over our house before American jets chased them away. 

I built airplane models, read as much Fleming and MacLean that I could sneak into my bedroom, and wore out the pages of the family dictionary.  I built a spy kit from a discarded cigar box and filled it with the tools of the spy from the eyes of a third grader.  During the years we lived near Kassel, I learned new names, terms and spy words: Gary Powers, U-2, and surveillance.  Then JFK was killed in Dallas and the term “communist” was tossed around the dinner table like throwed rolls at a family reunion.  Another new term, communism, worked its way into discussions between my parents, and I listened closely and wondered what that stuff was all about. 

It wasn't until I was twenty that I began to figure some of it out.  It wasn't until I became a college professor that I realized what should have been obvious: nearly all the espionage novels have this confrontation between communism and freedom.  When I started reading books from those men and women who escaped socialist and fascist regimes, to come to America, I realized I might have a few stories in me.

And it is more than just good guys against the bad guys.  So my main character, as my family has known, Duncan Hunter, is a composite, an extension of me.  The political awakening of a man who finally sees the world for what it really is--a hostile place where evil men just want to take away your freedom and your things, and you and your family and your life are irrelevant.  We even flew the jet from our childhood dreams.  Arrogant?  Nahhhh.  Just the luckiest guys we know.

My Bill McGee character is the ultimate freedom warrior who has always fought and killed the enemies of America.  My Nazy Cunningham character is the ultimate escapee from a fascistic religion who finally figures out that the system she is in is too oppressive and will either break her or kill her if she stays in it.  And my Greg Lynche character is the ultimate spy who has been fighting against communists and Islamists as a member of the intelligence community while being drawn a little to the dark side.  Life is never cut and dry.  Lynche's liberalism is a counterweight to Duncan Hunter's conservatism.  See!  Fair and balanced.  (Or not!)

Maverick out!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mark's third novel: No Need to Know.

My wonderful publisher, Black Rose Writing, released my third book: No Need to Know.  Readers of Special Access and Shoot Down will find the same characters in play with the YO-3A quiet airplane flying between scenes, in Africa and Afghanistan and Jordan.  Fear not, the political background is still set around a new President that was elevated to the office after the former President resigned in lieu of being charged with being a fraud and a possible al-Qaeda agent. 

My novels try to provide a true-to-life peek behind the curtain of top secret programs, forgotten CIA files, spyplanes, and the unspeakable world of Special Access Programs.  The pilot, Duncan Hunter, engages the world’s worst, lone-wolf terrorists, and neutralizes international asymmetric threats with a mix of obsolete and cutting-edge technologies.  The Players have unusual access with some of the highest security clearances granted by the U.S. government.

No Need to Know:  A major security breach finds the CIA’s closest secrets divulged and dozens of their highly-placed spies exposed and killed.  As the Agency investigates the source of the disclosures, an old Office of Strategic Services file and the former Director of Central Intelligence become the focal point of their research.  A race is on to find the file’s secrets.  If al-Qaeda’s wins, they can acquire “suitcase” thermonuclear devices to attack America.  If the CIA gets there first, they can make a deal with a Russian billionaire and trade the missing treasure for the weapons al-Qaeda craves. 

The political awakening of Duncan Hunter continues as he battles radical fundamentalists across the globe, he thwarts the terrorists’ best plans and eliminates their leaders.  He survived their latest attempts to kill him when he’s finally cornered, captured, and dragged to an al-Qaeda lair.  Inside lurks certain doom at the hand of his bitterest foe.

Maverick out!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mark's second novel: Shoot Down

During my recent book signings, I've been very surprised when someone checks out the cover of Shoot Down, they want to know if it is fiction or non-fiction.  I assure them it is fiction but it is loosely based on an actual event.  Remember my books are based on old CIA files that no one has seen for years or a program is only activated once a year. 

Shoot Down was the original spark for writing a novel.  I taught grad school and an aircraft accident course when a TWA 747 exploded over the waters of Long Island, New York.  Some witnesses claimed the aircraft was shot down by a surface-to-air missile; the government insisted a mechanical malfunction brought down the airplane.  Flight 800 has been the subject of conspiracy theories, books, and television specials.  I suggest an old CIA file is uncovered which details the President was warned—to preclude commercial airliners from being shot out of the sky either pay a ransom or suffer the consequences.

Just as the Agency finds the shadowy man responsible for the shoot down of the airliner, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is suddenly overthrown, sparking a race between the CIA and the terrorist networks to win the ultimate terrorist prize—hundreds of man-portable, shoulder-launched, anti-aircraft missiles.

Duncan Hunter and his top secret airplane once again teams up with former CIA Chief of Air Branch, Greg Lynche; former SEAL Team Six Commander, Captain Bill McGee; and CIA senior analyst, Nazy Cunningham to find the anti-aircraft missiles ahead of the al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood, and kill the man who shoots down airliners for profit.

Maverick out!


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mark's first novel: Special Access

Primarily at book signings another question I get asked is, "What is your book about?"  Special Access is ripped from the headlines and pages of recent newspapers.  Basically, a CIA file proves the President is not who he claims to be and U.S. Navy SEALs are being killed across the country.

I offer people to read the synopsis:  Basking in the glory of killing Osama bin Laden, the President revealed that Navy SEALs carried out the mission.  His constant heralding of their heroism and capabilities damaged the SEAL’s operational security, revealed tricks of their trade, and endangered them and their families.  As some in the Special Operations community expected and feared, a number of SEALs are being systematically killed across the country.

The Navy’s legendary SEAL commander, Captain Bill McGee, believes he is the next target of a sniper and seeks help from a close friend with unusual contacts and capabilities.  Duncan Hunter, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot, flies a top secret airplane with his mentor, Greg Lynche, the sometimes über-liberal retired CIA Chief of Air Branch.  Together, in their quiet airplane, they execute some of the CIA’s most sensitive airborne counterterrorism missions under a Special Access Program.

Saving McGee from a sniper’s bullet comes at a price as Duncan Hunter finds himself at the crossroads—either remain a contract pilot and betray a friend or become a patriot and risk exposure as a traitor.  His decision pulls him into one intrigue after another, finally revealing the truth behind several conspiracies hidden behind the firewalls of top secret security clearances, CIA files, and Special Access Programs.

Maverick out!


Friday, September 9, 2016

Nazy Cunningham.

One-time Yale lawyer, one-time Muslim apologist, one-time Muslim wife, one-time Muslim spy; she broke the bonds of Islam with the help of Duncan Hunter.  He turned the woman who was sent to spy on him into one of the CIA's most effective analysts and intelligence officers.  She finds terrorists where no one would think to look for them and when they don't want to be found, and when it is time to interrogate the nastiest of the GITMO detainees, she leaves them a whimpering mess. 

As Hunter's love interest, Nazy is tormented by the husband she ran away from, her break with from Islam, and her complicated relationship with Hunter.  Her stunning swimsuit-model looks, British accent, and total focus on finding and eliminating Islamic extremists leaves the men with whom she works incoherent, stammering, and captivated fools. 

Hunter cannot let go of the woman who has proved to be the love of his life, despite her tendencies to get him into significant trouble without her realizing it.  Nazy's job is at CIA headquarters in Washington DC; Duncan lives in Texas.  The two of them rarely share the secrets of the Agency for fear of losing their clearances.  But they cannot live without each other.  Whenever they get the opportunity to reunite, sparks fly.

Maverick out!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Captain Bill McGee, "Bullfrog," the legendary U.S. Navy SEAL.

One of the main characters in the Duncan Hunter series is William "Bill" McGee, the most decorated commando in Special Operations history, and the son of one of the original WWII Tuskegee Airmen.

Bill McGee is a man with many talents, and killing the enemies of America is his specialty.  He runs to the sound of trouble.  Like most senior SEALs, he is quiet but thoughtful, and carries himself with the unmistakable poise and confidence of a former member of United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the vaunted SEAL Team Six. 

Tiny round lenses give him the air of being a scholar, with PhDs in weapons, special operations, and assassination methods.  His physique, culled from hours in the weight room, is manifest of his athletic prowess.  Like James Bond, he is equally comfortable in scuba gear or a parachute harness as he was in formal wear.  For failing to find Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, McGee was relieved of command and sent to the Naval War College, to end his storied career first as a student then as an instructor.  There he meets Duncan Hunter who involves him the arcane world of quiet airplanes.  With his professional life in tatters, McGee credits Hunter for motivating and reinvigorating him, and they become fast friends. 

True friends always come running when there is trouble.  Hunter has a strange way of finding trouble and McGee is always saving his ass.

Maverick out!


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Greg Lynche.  Duncan Hunter's mentor and boss.

Greg Lynche was a career intelligence officer at the CIA.  He got the best assignments, rocketed up the corporate ladder, and should have been the Director of Central Intelligence.  He didn't achieve the top spot because he wasn't political enough; he was more "operational" than political, and the DCI position is usually a "political appointee."  But the job where Lynche succeeded beyond his wildest dreams was as Chief Air Branch. 

In the 1950s and 60s, this was the office where the ideas for U-2 and A-12/SR-71 spyplanes are born.  In the 1990s, when Lynche is retired but "still in the game," he stumbled onto Duncan Hunter at the U.S. Border Patrol and brings him into the world of the CIA and one of their black programs.  Lynche has an idea that goes against everything the CIA has been working on since the shoot down of Francis Gary Powers in 1960.  The CIA vowed to never again put a man in an airplane over hostile territory.  But the unmanned aircraft technology is not reliable and countless counterterrorism and counternarcotics missions are killed before they ever get off the ground for the lack of a reliable aircraft. 

As a retired intelligence officer, Lynche has an idea: if he had the right pilot and aircraft, would the CIA "contract" for their services?  Lynche acquires a unique "quiet airplane" and finds Duncan Hunter, at the Border Patrol, not living up to his potential.  A contract is awarded and for 15 years Hunter and Lynche operate the quiet airplane around the world, performing the CIA's most sensitive missions.  For Hunter, Lynche is his best friend, the brother he never had, and mentor.  However, Lynche is Hunter's political opposite—a liberal to Hunter's conservative.  Duncan Hunter is revered by Lynche, for his high moral standards, exceptional flying skills, and his ability to solve complex problems.  Lynche's pronounced sense of justice often leads him on a collision course with the pragmatic and politically conservative Hunter. 

The incredible Lockheed YO-3A, serial number 007, was saved from the scrapheap by Greg Lynche.  Built under a top secret US Army program, the motorized glider is aurally stealthy and is able to do things that satellites are incapable of doing and is able to go places where unmanned systems cannot.  Hunter is the pilot while Lynche functions as the sensor operator and Hunter's sounding board.  Only those with a need to know are aware of 007's existence and capabilities.  If James Bond had been a pilot, the super-quiet YO-3A—number 007—would've been his airplane. 

Maverick out!

Duncan Hunter.

Another question that comes up often during book signings is, "Who are your characters and are they modeled after anyone special?"  The main protagonist in my books is named Drew Duncan Hunter but everyone calls him Duncan.  His friends and acquaintances call him by his old Marine Corps fighter pilot call sign: Maverick. 

Duncan Hunter is a composite character--some of Hunter's background can be considered autobiographical while his personality and wit is drawn from a radio personality in Washington DC, the great Chris Plante.  So, right out of the chute, Duncan Hunter is intended to be politically conservative.  In the beginning, Hunter is politically agnostic and becomes more politically aware of his surroundings. 

Duncan Hunter was a poor smart kid with an uncanny knack for solving complex problems as well as being the luckiest man on the planet.  When you meet Nazy Cunningham, you'll know why.  He rose through the ranks of the Marine Corps to become a top fighter pilot when one day he was forced to eject from a crippled jet.  The guy in his back seat died.  A shattered body and a lengthy rehabilitation removed him from the world of flying supersonic aircraft but the passion to continue to fly allowed him to fly small general aviation aircraft.  One day he meets a man who changes his life.  He was bought into the fold of the CIA as a contract pilot, supporting some of the Agency's most sensitive counterterrorism missions. 

His initial cover was serving with the US Border Patrol and as a university professor.  He and Greg Lynche fly into the heart of where terrorists live, operate and flourish.  Hunter is driven to fight evil, whether his choice of ends and means be right or wrong.  The experience and lessons learned from those who escaped communism and Islam as well as those who embrace liberalism have shaped his politics.  He doesn't suffer liberals (or communists) well, with the exception of Lynche, whom he idolizes. 

Maverick out!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What kind of airplane is that?

The short answer is: "low noise profile" airplane.  James Bond had fantastical gadgets.  Duncan Hunter uses a "quiet aircraft" to perform some of the CIA's most difficult counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism missions.  In the Prologue of Special Access, readers are introduced to the remarkable YO-3A flying in the mountains of Colombia, sneaking up on some narco-terrorists and finding the location of a group of long-held hostages. 

Duncan Hunter uses a "quiet aircraft" to perform the CIA's most difficult counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism missions.  I introduced the remarkable YO-3A in Special Access and it anchors the other Duncan Hunter books.  In fact, the YO-3A (affectionately called the Yo-Yo) is what separates the Hunter books from other novels.  Duncan Hunter is a contract pilot for the CIA.  The Yo-Yo gets into places where other aircraft cannot.  But there is more to it than that.  A little history is necessary.  Quiet airplanes came from a program that developed the "Quiet Thrusters."  Declassified program.

The YO-3As were built by the Lockheed Aircraft Company in 1969 for Vietnam.  Many of those in uniform know of the U.S. Air Force's U-2s and SR-71s spy planes.  The idea for those aircraft came out of an office at the CIA in the 1950s and 60s.  They were developed at a time when manned flight over hostile territory was standard operating procedure--until Gary Powers was shot down and CIA directors vowed to "never again" put a man in an airplane to fly over the USSR or China.  Basically, the CIA's spy plane program was killed off by the Powers' incident and those assets and missions were transferred to the Air Force, and they became the beneficiary of the spy plane technology that Lockheed built.

Few knew anything about the 11 YO-3As built for the U.S. Army to conduct low-level night-time surveillance in Vietnam.  In my books, the quiet airplane enables Hunter and his partner Greg Lynche to get into places and do those counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism things that just cannot be done from a satellite or a high flying jet. 

When hunting the world's worst terrorists you have to bring out the old stuff.  Old guys like Duncan Hunter and Greg Lynche. 

And of course, a jet-black super-quiet YO-3A.

Maverick out!

Check out the Quiet Aircraft Association website:
Welcome to my blog! 

Welcome to the ramblings and ruminations of the espionage novelist, Mark A. Hewitt.   The title of my blog is from the title of my first book: Special Access.  If anyone has been paying attention to politics recently, something interesting in the world of the intelligence community, specifically "special access programs," has been in the news.   A certain Presidential candidate was found to have "special access program" materials on her homebrew, illegitimate, illegal and unsecured email server.   If you or I were to have set up such a system and the FBI found out, please know you or I would be dragged screaming and kicking from our house or place of work and thrown into the deepest bottomless pit they could find at the local Federal Penitentiary.   You or I would be lucky if they fed   

Special access program information is never discussed outside of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility; for those outside the intelligence community, these facilities are called a SCIF.   Within the federal government of the United States of America there are security protocols that provide highly classified information with safeguards and access restrictions that exceed those for regular classified information.  99% of the population know these to be a type of "black" project.   These are the most secret of the secret programs.  Unauthorized disclosure of a special access program usually results in the death or capture of one of our spies.  

Special Access is a story about one such special access program.  The CIA has a file that proves the President is not the man who he claims to be.  

So, welcome to my blog!  Find out what is running through an old pilot's head.  And check out my books. 

Maverick out!