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Posts Tagged ‘Real-Life Dragons’

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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Computer security is ever more important as years go by and the Internet becomes an integral part of our lives. Experts are constantly trying to persuade people to protect ourselves from various forms of crime by using stronger passwords. As part of this effort, a security firm called SplashData has been releasing an annual list of the most common passwords. Last April, Wired.com published an article revealing that the word “dragon” has made the most-common-password list every year for at least two decades.

Of course, those of us reading this blog already know that dragons are amazing and memorable creatures. Still, it seems an odd choice for a password. Whimsical, even. In her article,Wired reporter Louise Matsakis delves into the reasons for choosing this particular word. She also makes sure to mention that the reason we know “dragon” is a popular password is that many accounts using it were hacked.

So if you’ve used “dragon” as your password anywhere, you might want to update that. The hackers are on to you!


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

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Recently my local newspaper caught my attention with travel coverage about the site of a Dragon crash. Dragons? Tell me more!

The XB-28 “Dragon” was an experimental high-altitude bomber briefly developed by the U. S. during World War II. The design work was done by North American Aviation. It was based on their earlier, successful design for the B-25 Mitchell bomber.

Several trial craft were flown in 1942 and ’43, and the tests were considered quite successful. However, military planners determined that high-altitude bombing would not be as useful in the Pacific arena as it had been in Europe. Weather conditions in the Pacific did not allow accurate bombing runs, and this would lead to wasted ammunition and other resources. Thus the XB-28 was never put into production.

The crash site mentioned in the travel article is a relic from one of the test runs. In January of 1943, a crew was flying from (probably) Twin Falls, ID to Tacoma, WA. They encountered a winter storm in the mountains. Ice built up on the wings and forced a controlled crash. The pilot spotted Loon Lake, north of Boise, and used its frozen surface as a runway. It was still a rough landing. All eight crewmen survived, although one was badly injured. They pulled together a shelter using wreckage and forest material, and hunkered down to await rescue.

The radio was no longer working after the crash, meaning that the Air Force didn’t know where they were. Search planes flew without success. After a few freezing-cold and hungry days, three of the strongest crewmen set off on foot to look for help. These three hiked forty miles over two weeks until they reached a ranger station and reported the situation. In the meantime, however, the five other crewmen had already been rescued. A bush pilot passing by had spotted the wreckage. The men who hiked out must have been frustrated, but they certainly were heroic and deserve to be called dragon riders.

The plane’s wreckage was left where it lay. It remains on the shores of Loon Lake, in the Payette National Forest. Today you can view it after a hike of ten miles round trip, starting at nearby Payette Lake.


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

 

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Leather_Dragon

Leather Dragon created by Betsy Mott of Quicksilver Fantasies. Photo by Deby Fredericks.

Here is the latest addition to my personal dragon menagerie. My husband got it for me last month at SpoCon.

The dragon is hand sewn from leather by my good friend Betsy Mott. The dimensions are approximately 5″ from nose to tail and 8″ across the wings. You can sort of see the iridescent paint on the wings, as well.


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

 

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Komodo dragons are probably the most famous Real Dragons (TM) in the world. Even for a ten-foot-long critter, they have an outsized reputation. It seems that a lot of tourists go all the way to Indonesia for good look.

According to this article from Smithsonian Magazine in 2013, some of them remember, a little too late, that these are dragons we’re talking about. Be warned — some of the accounts are fairly gruesome.


 

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

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This coming weekend is SpoCon, the annual science fiction convention in my home town. I’m volunteering there as Director of Programming. It’s a year-round thing, really, as I recruit speakers and gather ideas for panels and other events during the weekend. At times, I’m called upon to really BE a dragon as people want to come at the last minute and demand time in the schedule, or they can’t come and I have to find alternative panelists, or they want to know why I didn’t know something that nobody ever told me. It’s stressful, but I really feel good about this year’s convention.

The reason I mention this is that many of you following my blog are writers and artists, or you aspire to be. So I want to recommend that if there’s a local SF convention near you, you ought to be attending. In addition to the technical skills and emotional endurance required for writing, making connections with other writers and artists is a huge benefit.

At SF conventions, you can make friends who encourage you after rejections. You can get work critiqued. You can listen in while older writers and artists talk shop. Some conventions are more juried than others, but the chances are you can get on a few panels. That helps you develop your publicity skills and builds credit with an audience that you are, in fact, a Real Writer/Artist.

The weekends do cost money. There can be travel, lodging, and other expenses even if your membership is comped for doing panels. Think of it as an investment in yourself and your career.

Plus, there will be dragons everywhere! In the art show, in the dealers room, in the games, in the costumes… Who doesn’t want to go see some dragons?


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

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