Carmel Magazine

Winter 2014

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Page 65 of 195

Local Pilot Turned Author Thrives on Adventure E rik Fleming has led a life filled with constant adrenaline. He's been a crack Marine Corp scout sniper stationed in Australia, serving in Desert Storm, Somalia, Myanmar, Colum- bia, Sierra Leone and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He's worked as a test subject for NASA, being subjected to physiological ordeals that would become training cur- ricula for astronauts, includ- ing spinning in a centrifuge in a G-suit, submerged in a pool clad in a space suit, soaring the skies in T-38 trainer jets and experienc- ing weightlessness aboard the infamous "Vomit Comet"—a jet that creates moments of zero-gravity. It was "The Right Stuff " kind of stuff. "I loved that job," he says. Fleming went on to study stunt flying from three-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Debby Rihn-Harvey and today is a high-hours pilot and instructor. He offers sightseeing flights and aerobatic thrill rides in his bright yellow American Champion Super Decathlon, a nimble and tiny airplane. He makes ends meet as an air traffic controller at Monterey Peninsula Airport. And somehow, he also found time to write and publish "Rolling Thunder," a Vietnam War-era novel focusing on—sur pr ise!—aviation. Not bad for a guy who just turned 40. "I've been interested in writing since I was a kid," Fleming recalls. "But I didn't have any professional expe- rience." "Rolling Thunder" tells the epic tale of reluctant war- rior Marine Captain Val- entine Jordan. "When I star ted this book there were a lot of books out about the ground war in Vietnam," Fleming says. "I saw a need to tell the story of the air war there." As would be expected, the book's flight scenes are compelling and put the reader right in the cockpit. "Vietnam was the last war in which there were actual dogfights," the author says. "Now you don't even see your opponent." The book has been nom- inated for a Fiction Book of the Year Award by both the Marine Corp Association and Naval Historical Foundation. A sequel, "The Contrabandistas," is due in late 2014. For more information or to make a reser vation for a thrill ride, visit or —Michael Chatfield SHORTCUTS NEIGHBORS Erik Fleming is an air traffic controller and offers aerobatic flights and flying lessons. He recently published "Rolling Thunder." 64 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 4 Photo: Kelli Uldall 046-76 Shortcuts_SU05 Carmel Magazine 1/24/14 9:05 AM Page 10

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