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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Tour - Captain by Thomas Block

Welcome to another great Karma Media Book Tour, where you will find honest reviews and insights into today’s authors and books.

Each tour stop is unique, so remember to check back with the tour daily.  View the entire tour schedule here:

This tour will feature:

Author: Thomas Block 
Featuring the book: Captain

CreateSpace (April 7, 2012) - 348 Pages
Available in Paperback and Kindle ($16.99/$6.99)

About the Author:
Thomas Block has written a number of aviation-oriented novels, many which have gone on to acquire best-seller status in numerous countries. His novel writing began with the publication of "Mayday" in 1979. That novel was rewritten with his boyhood friend, novelist Nelson DeMille in 1998 and remains on DeMille's extensive backlist. "Mayday" became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005.

Other novels by Block include "Orbit" (a top bestseller in Germany, among other nations), "Airship Nine", "Forced Landing" (also done as a radio serializatoin drama in Japan), "Skyfall", "Open Skies" and "Captain". Thomas Block is still writing both fiction and non-fiction, and has edited and updated his earlier novels into ebooks of all the major formats and also into new full-sized (trade soft cover) printed versions.

Block's magazine writing began in 1968 and over the next five decades his work has appeared in numerous publications. He worked 20 years at FLYING Magazine as Contributing Editor, and as Contributing Editor to Plane & Pilot Magazine for 11 years. Block became Editor-at-Large for Piper Flyer Magazine and Cessna Flyer Magazine in 2001.

During his long career as an aviation writer he has written on a wide array of subjects that range from involvement with government officials to evaluation reports on most everything that flies. Block has piloted gliders, seaplanes, the Goodyear Blimp, warplanes and many large transport jets, to name just a few categories from his logbook. He has owned more than a dozen light airplanes.

An airline pilot for US Airways for over 36 years before his retirement in April, 2000, Captain Thomas Block has been a pilot since 1959. Born February 11, 1945, Block has accumulated 30,000+ hours of flight time since his first solo on his sixteenth birthday. He holds an Air Transport Pilot rating in numerous large aircraft. Block flew the Trans-Oceanic routes for US Airways in the Boeing 767 to a cross-section of European cities for the last decade of his airline career. Block is also rated for single and multi-engine land and sea aircraft, and gliders. Since 2002, Thomas Block has lived on a ranch in Florida with his wife Sharon where they board, compete and train horses. The Ranch website ( contains additional information about Thomas Block's novels and his other writing activities.

About the Book:

'Captain' is his most ambitious, intricate and action-packed aviation tale yet . It is a chilling and all-too-real story about a routine Trans-Atlantic airline flight that suddenly turns absolutely insane. In the doomed airliner's cockpit, inside the passenger cabin and on the ground, a complex array of characters have been propelled at jet speed into a sudden and frantic race for survival. 'Captain' is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women as they attempt to deal with and ultimately fight against the odds and circumstances that are stacked against them.

'Captain' is a novel that pits man against man while also pitting man against machine. It is a story about the need for human judgments, hard-learned experiences, gut feelings and unbridled perseverance in an effort to rise up against a world where the strict adherence to written rules, regulations and procedures have been accepted as the norm.

'Captain' is about the way real airline pilots think, feel and react, especially after those giant airliners that they've strapped themselves to have suddenly turned vicious and unpredictable.



The fire was directly behind them and catching up. Ray could not only feel the on-rushing hot and acrid air that rolled over them from behind, but he could sense the flames and, every now and then, would catch a glimpse of that holocaust when he dared peek over his shoulder. “Hurry,” he said as he and Katie ran down the long, narrow valley in northern Italy that was being engulfed in a wildfire.

“Ray, I’m frightened.” They continued running along the only exit path available to them. Katie faltered and stumbled, her breathing heavily labored.

“Keep running. Almost there. I can see it. The next bend in the roadway.” Ray felt Katie’s fingers as they, literally, dug into his hand. She was moving slower, and he was pulling her as best he could, urging her along, trying to reach the only chance they had against the monstrous wildfire that had trapped them in this long and narrow valley.

“I can’t…keep going…” Katie said as she nearly fell.

“You can!” Ray pulled on her arm to steady her, and she regained her balance. She continued moving forward with him. “Almost,” Ray said. “There it is! The airport!” “Where?” Katie asked, breathlessly.

“Straight ahead. Behind that row of trees.” There it was, the small Italian airfield that Ray had somehow known about, nestled in the bowels of this narrow valley, its single blacktop runway positioned parallel with the high valley walls on either side. It would be their only chance to get out of this valley alive. As Ray had remembered, there was a single row of small Italian airplanes parked at the far end of the airfield. “A little further.”


Katie was keeping up with him, so all that was left was to pick a suitable airplane to make their escape. But as they neared the row of parked aircraft at the deserted airfield, Ray realized that the small airplanes parked on the line — a dozen or more — were the same type. “Single seat sport planes, every one of them!” Ray shouted back at her. “Damn!”

“I can fly one. I can do it, if you show me.” Katie ran past several of the tiny Italian airplanes, glancing at each and, for some reason, going on to the next. The airplanes were identical, and they had very small cockpits with only one seat. There was no way to get two people into one airplane. “You’ll have to fly your own,” Ray said. “Can’t both fit into one.”

“I can do it, Ray,” Katie said as they stopped at one aircraft in the middle of the pack. Katie popped open the cockpit canopy and peeked inside. “You need to show me how to get it started. The cockpit labels are in Italian, can’t read them.”

“Get in.” Ray boosted her into the tiny cockpit. While she strapped herself into the pilot’s seat, Ray pointed to various controls as he figured them out. “Mag switch, starter, fuel selector, throttle. The control stick is normal, like the one you’ve used in the Cub at home. Wheel brakes on the floor, next to the rudder pedals. Use your heels. Put this headset on and use the radio once we get going. Press this button to transmit.”

“Okay.” Katie glanced around the unfamiliar cockpit. “Ray, I can do this. Get yourself into the next airplane.” Katie pointed toward the aircraft to their right. “Hurry. The fire is almost here.”

“I know.” Ray closed the canopy on Katie’s airplane, jumped from the wing and ran to the next aircraft in the line. As he climbed in, he could see the wall of flames as it worked its way around the turn in the road that was not a half a mile from them. The outflow of hot air had gotten stronger, and it was blowing directly down the short runway. That hot wind would shorten their takeoff roll, but it meant that they had to take off directly toward the enormous fire that was racing toward them. As Ray started the engine of his airplane, he could see that Katie had already started the engine of hers. “Can you hear me?” Ray asked on the radio.

“Yes,” Katie answered. “Ready.” She paused, then transmitted, “Ray, you go first, I’ll follow.”

“No.” Ray could see the problem they’d be facing. The only runway they could use was directly toward the towering flames and mounds of billowing smoke, and it was getting closer with each passing moment. He needed to get Katie to make the first takeoff so she could clear that maelstrom with room to spare; if he were to cut into the top of it, he stood a better chance than she did of wrestling the airplane through that smoke, the flames and the heavy turbulence. “You go, I’ll follow behind you.”

“Ray, you first — please!” Katie pleaded into the microphone.

“Okay.” There was no time to argue. Ray pushed on the throttle and the Italian airplane jolted forward. “Follow me,” he transmitted. “Stay close.”

“I am.” He glanced over his shoulder and could see her aircraft, only thirty feet or so behind his. “When we get to the far end of the runway, I’ll swing around,” Ray transmitted. “I’ll add full power and roll straight down the runway. You wait ten seconds – no more than that – then do the same. Use eighty on the airspeed indicator as a takeoff and climb speed; that should be safe.”


“Keep transmitting while you’re making the takeoff so I know how you’re doing.” Ray knew that Katie found comfort in using the radio, in talking about what she was doing, as if that electronic link to someone else provided her with more hands and eyes in the cockpit, and with more skill. “Let go of the transmit button if you need me to answer you.”

“I understand.”

“Here I go,” Ray said into the microphone. “Push up the power in ten seconds.”


Ray concentrated on his own takeoff. Rolling directly toward that wall of flame and smoke was disconcerting, but there was no other way. The Italian airplane leapt off the runway at 80 on the airspeed indicator, as he figured it would. “Eighty works fine,” Ray transmitted. “Start your takeoff.”

“Here I go,” Katie announced.

Ray steered his airplane as steeply as he dared. He would, barely, clear the flames and smoke. He was clearing it by hardly more than inches, and the turbulence was severe. That meant that Katie wouldn’t clear it, and the turbulence would be worse. “Off the ground…climbing…Ray, the flames, the smoke…right in front of me…it’s above me…Ray…Ray…”

In the background, behind her terrified words, Ray could hear the loud ringing of an alarm bell. It was, evidently, from inside her airplane, some sort of fire bell or overheat or smoke warning built into this Italian sport plane. Her airplane was on fire.

“Ray…Ray…I’m going down…Ray…”

But he couldn’t answer her because she had kept her finger on the transmit button while she was losing control. He couldn’t say anything to her, couldn’t give her any advice – if there was any advice that he could give, any advice that would save her. Oh, my God.... Ray kept hearing her frightened, pleading voice with that loud, shrill ringing of the fire bell in the background….

Finally, the ringing penetrated his conscious mind. Ray realized with a start that it was, in fact, the telephone beside his hotel bed that was ringing. “Hello?” he said, after fumbling around and finally picking up the receiver. What he heard on the other end was an electronic voice: it was the automated wake up call for 8:00 am that he had requested when he checked into this small hotel north of Rome late the evening before.

Ray got out of bed, stepped into the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. His stomach was churning from the remnants of that bizarre dream, a nightmare that had seemed so damned real, and from the memory of Katie’s frightened voice. Put that out of your mind. Right now. You’ve got to. Ray splashed more cold water on his face, then left the bathroom.

He went to the telephone and picked it up. When the front desk answered, Ray verified that his previous night’s instructions were being carried out and that the hotel had arranged for a taxi to take him to Rome’s Airport at 10:00 am. That would give him two hours to shave, shower, pack and have breakfast. “The taxi will be ready at ten?” Ray asked.

“Si,” the front desk operator answered. “I have the instructions right here. This taxi service, he’s a very dependable. The ride is short, twenty minutes at the most. You will have no problems.”

“Thank you. Gracie,” Ray said.


Ray turned and headed to the bathroom. He had spent the past sixteen days driving through northern Italy, going only to places he had never been before, places that he had never taken Katie to. His friends — the few friends that he would speak to about this very personal subject — said that a change of scenery would be helpful, and so would new areas to explore and enjoy. It would get his thoughts going in a different direction. They had been right, it had.

Some. But not much.

Ray glanced at the one novel and three magazines that he would be taking on the flight. That, plus the one self-help book that he had impulsively grabbed from that bookstore shelf before leaving on his trip to Italy, the book he had bought one afternoon when he had aimlessly wandered around Manhattan on a shopping trip while his head was throbbing and the memory of Katie’s face was hardly below the surface of his thoughts.

As Ray had suspected, the words in Dealing With Anxiety and Guilt were totally dead to him. Even after he had forced himself to finish that self-help psychology book, the words remained stone dead: as dead as Katie was.

Got to let it go. Those words had become his recurring mantra for some time, but they also had done little to help. Mouthing those words had done almost nothing to ease his pain, nothing to erase those constant, gnawing memories and the periodic dreams and nightmares. Ray sighed, then shook his head as he looked directly at himself in the bathroom mirror. He knew that Flight 3 from Rome to New York was going to be a long ride for him today.

Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Block.  All rights reserved.

Disclosure: This tour was brought to you by Karma Media. As a participant of this book tour, I received a copy of the book in hardcopy or ebook format for the purposes of sharing my honest review with you.

If you are interested in joining Karma Media Book Tours or would like to explore the possibility of having Karma Media feature your book or series, we invite you to visit our team website at

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