A few years ago in the tony Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, while on a business trip, I stepped into a P.F. Chang’s for lunch and immediately thought of the Bad Man of Bodie.

Stores and restaurants in Arizona who prefer their patrons not pack heat on their premises must post garish signs opting out of the state’s “constitutional carriage” law that enables anyone over 21 to carry a concealed weapon just about anywhere without a permit.

That’s because I was greeted with a sign emblazoned with a red circle and diagonal line atop…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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.”

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…

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.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store