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Archive for the ‘Dragon Folklore’ Category

The best known incident involving a U-2 is from 1960. Pilot Francis Gary Powers took off from Pakistan with the intention of photographing  several Soviet installations while heading for Norway. Their starting date of May 1 was a serious miscalculation, however. May Day was a huge holiday in the Soviet Union. Civilian flights were grounded to allow for military demonstration flights. The U-2 stood out in this environment. It was immediately tracked by Soviet air forces. 

Due to its high altitude, the U-2 could not be attacked directly by fighter planes. Instead, a missile brought it down. Powers ejected, but chose not to use a “poison pill” in his possession. He was captured alive. The U-2 itself was not as badly damaged as military planners had expected given a crash from such altitude. This allowed the Soviets to recover and study the wreckage, advancing their own aircraft technology. 

The C. I. A. fell back on their cover story, that the pilot had lost consciousness due to a failure of the oxygen system. After allowing the U. S. to release this information, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev revealed the truth. This was a huge embarrassment to the United States both internally and internationally. It derailed a major diplomatic conference, two weeks later, and may eventually have led to the ouster of Khrushchev by hard-liners who thought he had been too conciliatory toward the U. S. In America, C. I. A. director Allen Dulles was excoriated at a major Congressional hearing.

As for the pilot, Powers followed his orders and cooperated with Soviet authorities. He was convicted of espionage and served time in prison before being released in 1962. Many in the U. S. blamed Powers for not using his “poison pill” after being shot down. However, it appears Powers’ orders were not explicitly that he should commit suicide. Several U-2 pilots had been killed in crashes during development and testing, so whoever wrote the orders must have considered it impossible for Powers to walk away from a crash. 

It just goes to show, you should never underestimate a Dragon Lady and her rider.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Back in 2017, I posted about a comic book character named The Dragon Lady. Now it turns out there was also a jet named “Dragon Lady” from around the same era. 

The U-2 “Dragon Lady” was designed and built by Lockheed Martin corporation beginning in the mid-1950s. U. S. military leaders wanted to improve their ability to conduct aerial surveillance on enemies such as the Soviet Union and China. Flying at high altitudes, the U-2 was able to capture highly detailed images (within the technical capabilities of the era) of foreign installations throughout the Cold War.

The first model, the U-2A, went into service in 1956. They have proven to be a durable and useful craft. The Dragon Lady is still in service today, with the U-2S having been upgraded in 2012. 

The U-2 was operated under direction of the Central Intelligence Agency, and thus the Dragon Lady was little known to the public. Each surveillance flight was carefully planned, with a cover story in case of discovery. There was some disagreement about this, with civilian aviation experts advising to be honest if the flights were found out. However, the C. I. A. followed its instinct and went ahead using cover stories. 

This practice had serious repercussions when a U-2 got busted. Literally. Check back on Wednesday to learn more.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Fire and Heist, by Sarah Beth Durst, is a YA book featuring people who can assume draconic form — or maybe it’s the reverse. They get up to some mischief while trying to blend among ordinary humans. 

I recently read a review by Teri Polen on her blog, Books and Such. Rather than steal her thunder, I thought I’d link to her post, so here’s the link. Polen is a prolific reviewer, and I highly recommend her blog. Go ahead and check it out!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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These are a variety of dragon rumored to dwell in the Alps of Switzerland and France. They were long, lean, and loved jewelry more than any other sort of treasure for their hoards. Tales say that they were always adorned with as much gold and gems as they could physically wear. They neither liked nor disliked humans — except for those who tried to steal from them.

The vouivre had a weakness, though: they were blind. As part of their finery, each one wore a splendid tiara of pearls or gold, with a blood-red jewel on its forehead. These jewels were enchanted to allow them to see. The gem’s radiance was so brilliant that the dragons seemed to be wrapped in fire. Whenever they flew by, people thought it was a shooting star coming to earth. 

Vouivre were well aware of their vulnerability. They only went out to bathe once or twice a year, since they must remove their jewelry and that would temporarily blind them. In some areas, it was said the vouivre only bathed on Christmas Eve. In other places, they thought it was on Easter Sunday. The dragons were clever, you see, and they took their baths at a time when most Christian folk would be at mass.

News of such a great treasure got around, all the same. Everyone wanted a chance at the dragon’s hoard. Tales abound of this person or that who found a vouivre’s bathing place and lay in wait to spear them while they were blind. Or they lured the dragon into an oven and killed it that way. (It would have to be quite a big oven!)

Others tried to skip the battle and just make off with the vouivre’s treasure while it was away. Woe to them if the beast returned sooner than expected! These unfortunate souls were never heard from again.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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I’m off at Lake City Comicon, but I’m still excited about Nalo Hopkinson’s Voodoo-rich House of Whispers, so here’s another post from 2017 about dragons in the Voodoo religion.


We’ve all heard of Voodoo, that mysterious, wicked form of magic where curses are bestowed by sticking pins into dolls and the dead rise as zombies. Pop culture offers a sensational and even scandalous view of Voodoo in movies, books and on TV.

In reality, Voodoo/Vodou is a folk religion practiced in the Caribbean, especially Haiti. It is thought to be a fusion of West African, Native American, and Catholic religions. Vodou has spread all over the world, wherever Caribbean immigrants have traveled. Without a central authority or holy writings, it’s hard to know how many people practice Vodou today.

Every religion has its deities. In the case of Vodou, the supreme deity is Bondye but scores of nature spirits called loa serve as his intermediaries. And the loa just happen to include a few dragons. Damballah-Wedo and Ayida-Wedo are leaders of the Rada pantheon. Both take the form of gigantic rainbow serpents who give shape to the world.

Damballah, the father figure,  sired most of the pantheon. His relationship with humans is said to be remote, but fond. A lord of rivers and streams, he was honored in special pools where he could come to bathe. He also enjoyed forests with many trees. Whenever he came to Earth, his body would carve the land into canyons and valleys. At sea, his swimming provoked great waves.

His wife, Ayida, is a goddess of rain, and consequently fertility. It is said when she milks her cows, the rains fall onto the Earth. She can most often be seen as a rainbow arched over the land. Not surprisingly, Ayida is a popular deity compared to the more distant Damballah.

Together,  Damballah and Ayida are a perfect team, loving and devoted. Earth and sky shape each other. Without one, the other has no meaning. Decorative items often show them twining together. Their stable and affectionate relationship is an example to their earthly followers.

And you thought Voodoo was just about casting curses!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Here’s a folk story about Uncle Monday, courtesy of the Conjure Woman blog.


Everybody knows that Uncle Monday lives in the swamps of the Deep South. He usually keeps the shape of an alligator, but one of his jobs is to watch over mortal humans. So sometimes he takes the shape of a man and wanders the land. Whenever he encounters someone who is too proud or foolish, he tries to get them back on the right path.

One time, there was an old woman named Judy Bronson. She was a hoodoo doctor of some skill, and it went to her head. Soon she was bragging that Uncle Monday was nothing compared to her. Not only could she help anyone who came to her, but she could unravel spells and send them back at the caster. “Could Uncle Monday do that?” she scoffed.

Word of this got back to Uncle Monday. He was disgusted. “This woman’s pride is higher than a mountain!”

Not long after that, Old Judy wanted to go fishing at Blue Sink. Her neighbors warned her that Blue Sink was a bottomless lake, and besides that, Uncle Monday lived in those waters.

Was Old Judy worried about it? Not at all. Off she went, and just about dusk she threw in her line. Within seconds, something grabbed the bait. Something big, pulling hard enough to worry Old Judy just a little. And a few seconds after that, she found that she couldn’t move at all. Some spell had her paralyzed with her hands locked on the pole!

Old Judy remembered to be scared at last. In fact, she was as scared as a cat in a dog pound. She tried to dig in her feet, but the bottom was to slick. She tried to let go of the pole, but her hands were stuck tight. The harsh tugging continued, and Judy was dragged deeper and deeper into the water.

She couldn’t move, but she could cry for her life. And as she screamed, a beam of light burst out to shine on her. Was someone coming to help her? Well, someone was coming, all right. Far across the lake, a man in flowing robes came walking across the water just like Jesus. An army of alligators swam up behind him.

Who do you think it was?

Old Judy was speechless with terror, but Uncle Monday did not harm her. “I brought you here to learn a lesson,” he said. “You need to get off your high horse and admit your magic is nothing compared to mine.”

Uncle Monday and the alligators slid back into the water. When he left, the light faded and the night was black as pitch. There was Old Judy, paralyzed and alone in the chilly water. Or was she alone? Something scaly bumped against her. One of the gators had stayed as a guard. She felt him with every breath.

Old Judy was furious. She didn’t want to knuckle under to Uncle Monday. But the night stretched on, and she still couldn’t move a muscle. So she had time to think and after a while she admitted to herself that this was some powerful hoodoo and she wasn’t strong enough to break it.

Finally she yelled it out: “I’m not as big and bad a hoodoo doctor as Uncle Monday!”

As soon as she said it, the alligator on guard swam off into the darkness, and Old Judy heard someone calling her name. Her old grandma got worried and came looking for her. Old Judy barely stumbled out of Blue Sink and some of the neighbors came to help her get home. They told her she fell and had a stroke, but Old Judy knew the truth.

From then on, Old Judy threw away all her Voodoo and hoodoo things. She told everyone it was Uncle Monday who helped her to walk again.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

 

 

 

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St. Leonard’s Forest is a region of The Weald, an ancient forest located in what is now Sussex, England. Legends say that many dragons once lived in this deep, wild forest. It must have been good habitat for them, with many hiding places and deer to feed upon.

The forest became associated with Saint Leonard of Limousin (485-559 C. E.), who ran a monastery nearby. During the last years of his life, he lived in the forest as a hermit. Saint Leonard wasn’t too old to have a few adventures, though! So many dragons were coming out of the Weald to attack the countryside that the people begged this holy man for help. Saint Leonard went in answer to their pleas. He fought the dragons, and patches of lily-of-the-valley sprang up where his blood flowed.

Saint Leonard was believed to have killed the last of their breed in the Weald. However, there may have been survivors. Dragon sightings were recorded in St. Leonard’s Wood as late as 1614 C. E.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

 

 

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