Jill: Mom, there’s snow on Mt. Tom!
Mom: It’ll still be there on the weekend.
Jill: Don’t make me go to school today. It’s the first day of snow. There’s snow on Mt. Tom!

– The Other Side of the Mountain, Universal Pictures, 1975

The snow has not yet come to Mt. Tom.

It is one more thing in the year 2020, our annus horriblis.

The Eastern Sierra, with a 13,658-foot, snow-crested Mt. Tom as its showpiece, towers above the Owens Valley community of Bishop, CA. (Photo: Gary Young.)

And as the days march into November, the residents of Bishop, CA, where I was raised, look with an increasing sense of dread toward the great pyramidic peak that dominates the nearly 14,000-foot Eastern Sierra…


Jus Play’N Around is the S.S. Minnow of the Silver Strand and, for the Navy, the tip of a very large ecological iceberg

“Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley

The sun sets on another day that Jus Play’N Around remains marooned on the Silver Strand. The abandoned, derelict sailboat has sat on these shores, directly in front of the U.S. Navy’s Silver Strand Training Complex, billed as the military’s premier training facility for U.S. Special Operations Forces, since a storm washed it ashore Jan. 16, 2021. The boat’s fate, and guesses as to how much longer it will remain on the beach, are a mystery. (Photo: Craig K. Collins)

If a boat washes up on the beach, and no one seems to care, did the boat really wash up on the beach?

That is the question posed by Jus Play’N Around, a 20-foot pleasure craft tossed ashore during a storm Jan. 16, 2021, onto the Silver Strand, a lonely, lovely stretch of sand that runs about eight miles from scrappy, scruffy Imperial Beach to Coronado, I.B.’s …


That time I witnessed a huge, shining blob zip over San Diego Bay

On Nov. 14, 2004, pilots of two F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets from the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group encountered this large Tic Tac-shaped object flying about 100 miles southwest of San Diego. The image was taken with an infrared camera aboard a Navy jet. Cmdr. and Top Gun pilot David Fravor said of the object, ”It’s white. It has no wings. It has no rotors. I go, ‘Holy sh*t, what is that?” Lt. Cmdr. Alex Dietrich said, “It was so unpredictable — high G, rapid velocity, rapid acceleration.” The author of this piece describes seeing a similar object zip over San Diego Bay five years earlier in 1999.

First, I need to declare that I am of sound mind and body. I’m neither a whacko nor garden-variety conspiracy theory nut job, of which, sadly, one can find in abundance across the land these days. My family and friends describe me as one of the most down-to-earth, rational people they know. And I only bring up this 23-year-old incident because it again seems relevant against a spate of recently documented and disclosed UFO sightings by dozens of military aviators.

So here goes:

In May of 1999, I was an executive at a San Diego-based technology company. We had just…


In this Oscar-worthy film, it’s High Noon for the black hats of American capitalism

Nomadland is a poem of a film.

Viewers set sail amid the vast majesty of the American West aboard Van Halen, an intrepid vessel that doubles as a cramped home for Fern, the film’s anti-hero of sorts, portrayed by Frances McDormand with all the quiet, flinty resolve of a 19th century pioneer.

Nomadland is a morality tale framed by the wide-open vistas of the American West and is evocative (sans guns and shootouts) of great films of the western genre like High Noon and The Searchers. Nomadland can be seen now on a number of streaming platforms.

Nomadland is that rare work of art that transports its passengers on an immersive journey. It is a film determined to tell its story at its own unhurried pace, letting it unfold with its own alluring rhythms, haunting imagery, visual metaphors, and dramatic landscapes that stretch for miles…


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity … in short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

In the wake of the sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of modern-day seditionists, several Republican lawmakers have been…


Yes, says a man who did it. But it’s not the fall that’ll kill you.

Is it possible to parachute into a category 5 hurricane — or any hurricane for that matter — and survive?

The very premise seems ludicrous and untestable. Intuitively, our intrepid parachutist would surely be tossed, twisted and torn assunder by one of the greatest forces in nature. It would be madness to try. And impossible to survive.

Right?

Not so, says my uncle, Maj. Don Harten, who is likely one of only four people to have ever plunged into a Cat 5 storm — Super Typhoon Dinah — and lived to tell the tale. (The other three were his U.S…


Midair (Lyons Press) is available in hardback, paperback, ebook and audiobook.

Read Midair: Foreword | Read Midair: Chapter One | Read Midair: Chapter Two |Read Midair: Chapter Twenty-Eight

The annals of aviation are replete with near-miraculous stories of survival.

There is, of course, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, who flew into a flock of geese in 2009 and through quick thinking, years of experience and nerves of steel, managed to safely ditch his dead-engine Airbus A320 into the Hudson River, saving all aboard.

And there is Juliane Koepcke, who in 1971, at age 17, fell 10,000 feet to earth after her plane…


Pilot’s 1968 selfie shows Soviet missile skimming just under his F-105 in the skies above Hanoi

Excerpted from Midair by Craig K. Collins (Lyons Press)
Available here in hardback, paperback, ebook and audiobook.

Read Midair: Foreword|Read Midair: Chapter One|Read Midair: Chapter Two

Whenever Billy Sparks was hungover, which was often, his fellow pilots would yell out, “Hey, Sparky, let me see that aerial map of Hanoi.”

Sparks would then oblige. He had the ability to pull down on one of his lower eyelids, flex a combination of facial muscles, and force his eyeball to bulge gruesomely from its socket. Though Billy’s bulging, bloodshot eye the morning after a long night at Takhli’s Stag Bar was unnerving…


Epic True Story of Pilot who Ejects from Fiery B-52 Collision and Parachutes into a Cat 5 Super Typhoon with 185 mph Winds and 70-Foot Waves

Excerpted from Midair by Craig K. Collins (Lyons Press)
Available here in hardback, paperback, ebook and audiobook.

Read Midair: Foreword | Read Midair: Chapter One | Read Midair: Chapter Twenty-Eight

The Milky Way stretched in a glimmering band against theblack-ink darkness that pressed against Don’s cockpit window at forty-five thousand feet above the South China Sea. Above, a waning moon, nearly full, gleamed icy white. Below, Super Typhoon Dinah, a category 5 storm with winds of 185 mph, spun in a massive counterclockwise spiral, denuding tropical islands and churning mountainous waves. Its thunderheads pulsed ominously with flashes of light.

Midair (Lyons Press) is a true account of one of the most remarkable tales of survival in the history of aviation — a midair collision at 30,000 feet by two bomb-laden B-52s over a category 5 super typhoon above the South China Sea during the outset of the Vietnam War.

From…


America’s Greatest Military Blunder Explained in Kamps’ Foreword to Midair

Excerpted from Midair by Craig K. Collins (Lyons Press)
Available here in hardback, paperback, ebook and audiobook.

Read Midair: Chapter One | Read Midair: Chapter Two | Read Midair: Chapter Twenty-Eight

Don Harten’s name is not common knowledge in America, even within the service to which he dedicated his adult life. This, to be sure, has something to do with the fact that Don’s war — Vietnam — is not normally revered in heroic terms in US military history. But, just as surely, his name is what the term “unsung hero” is all about.

Midair (Lyons Press) is a true account of one of the most remarkable tales of survival in the history of aviation — a midair collision at 30,000 feet by two bomb-laden B-52s over a category 5 super typhoon above the South China Sea during the outset of the Vietnam War.

Above all, Don was a warrior…

Craig K. Collins

Author of Midair (Lyons Press, 2016) and Thunder in the Mountains (Lyons Press, 2014). At work on a novel, as well as a book of historical non-fiction.

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