In 1979, B.D. wrote the first Starship Orion adventure for
"Commander Scott" McMahan, who then lived in Kingsport,
Tennessee. I remember reading the first adventure before moving to
Hendersonville. A second, more fleshed out adventure followed. Beyond
these two adventures, only one other fragment of a new story about Starship
Invincible was ever completed. All of the Starship Orion
adventures were written on a manual typewriter, most curiously ab
initio without any drafting. (At least, I never saw any draft
papers, and do not believe there ever were any; not to mention many of
the typewritten pages have mistakes whited out on the page itself.)
Considering that, in 1980, I was nine years old, B.D. did not
"write down" or try in any way to make the story palatable to
a boy that age (note the chain-smoking, salty military types, the way
women are portrayed, etc.). Typical of how he related to me, considering
him teaching the concepts of electronics to an elementary school student
who had never even had algebra (I would not be able to take an
electronics class until high school in the school system). I was
precocious and did not object.
What is most interesting about the "Starship" Orion is that
"Commander Scott" spends most of his time flying it like an
airplane. B.D. infused these stories with much realism drawn from his
aviation experience. When "Commander Scott" was not flying his
spaceship like an airplane, he was flying an actual airplane. (I also
find it interesting that "Commander Scott" would be 74 years
old at the start of the story in 2045, if "Commander Scott" in
the story is taken to be the same Scott that the story was written for.)
The Starship Orion adventures made a big impact on me
because, in 1979, I saw the movie Star Wars and first
got into science, spaceships, robots, computers, etc. This was
the first time any of these things were on my radar screen as
a child, so this story made a huge impact by amplifying them.
The typescript pages:
- First Adventure
- Second Adventure
- Fragment of Starship
Below the last line on this page is a
line blotted out by correcting ink. It reads: "Mabel would
never agree to living in Washington." The correction
suggests that the line was deleted because something
replaced it on the next page, but beyond this page, no
continuation of the story exists on any extant page. Since
B. D. seems to have never written any sort of draft of any
of the Orion papers, I expect it simply stopped.
The Plunk And George Stories
Besides Starship Orion, the other major story B. D. wrote in the
late 1970s and early 1980s was the Plunk And George Stories.
B. D. gave me a copy of Kipling's Just So Stories in June
of 1983, and must have been familiar with them. B. D. grew up in a
time when Kipling and other classic authors were a staple of
childhood. Both the Just So Stories and the Jungle Books
feature talking elephants. The former contains "The Elephant's Child",
and the latter a chapter called "Toomai of the Elephants". Certainly
the first, having a young talking elephant, was an influence, but
B. D. was not merely copying. His elephants have the same air of
freedom and exploration that he remembered from his own
childhood. They explore their world, while still having the safety and
security of their families to fall back on.
Much like Starship Orion, no matter how unlikely the starting
point, airplanes come into B. D.'s yarns rather quickly. I remember
having a toy as a child that was a rubber airplane with a face. I
can't remember if the name Otis was attached to the toy, and hence the
basis for the character in the story; or if I gave the name Otis to
the airplane after reading the story.
I can remember that some of the Plunk And George stories were
written while I lived at the house in Hendersonville with B. D., but I
can't remember which ones. More than likely, the stories from
Valentines Day (which must be the one in 1980) onward were written
while I lived there.
- Title Page
- Foreword On A Child's Imagination
- Page 1: Chapter 1, By The River
Page 2 -
- Page 4: Chapter 2, Exploring
Page 5 -
Page 6 -
- Page 8: Chapter 3, Otis Airplane
- Page 10: Chapter 4, The Big Cave
Page 11 -
- Page 13: Chapter 5, The Monsoon
Page 14 -
- Page 16: Chapter 6, The Only Snow
Page 17 -
Page 18 -
- Page 20: Chapter 7, A Long Trip
Page 21 -
Page 22 -
Page 23 -
Page 24 -
Page 25 -
Page 26 -
Page 27 -
- Page 29: Chapter 8, The New Neighbors
Page 30 -
- Page 32: Chapter 9, The Picnic Adventure
Page 33 -
Page 34 -
- Page 36: Chapter 10, A Visit From Grandma and Grandpa
Page 37 -
- Page 39: Chapter 11, The Valentine Party
Page 40 -
Page 41 -
Page 42 -
Page 43 -
- Page 45: Chapter 12: The Grandparents Go Home
Page 46 -
Page 47 -
Page 48 -
Page 49 -
- Page 51: Chapter 13: Hunters!
The last episode remains unfinished, as it should be, suspending
the stories of the two young elements forever in a dim, remote place
within the mind of a child. The story ends here, abruptly, at the
point in the young elephant's lives when the realities of the world
around them will come crashing into their playful, fun childhood. I
could not think of a more fitting place for such a story to suspend
Despite the author's injunction against illustrating the story,
B. D. produced two maps, and two watercolors, about it. I, perhaps,
although my memory is vague, pressed him to draw the maps.
||Plunk and George's Jungle (Map)
||The Big River (Watercolor)
||The Bear's Caves (Watercolor)
||The Big Cave (Map)
WNC Flight Plan
From August, 1962 to October, 1965, B. D. contributed a column
entitled "WNC Flight Plan" to the Asheville Citizen-Times on a
bi-monthly basis. This ran in the Sunday newspaper, which was, at the
time, bore the hyphenated name "Citizen-Times". At that time, and
until the late 1980s, the Asheville Citizen was the morning newspaper,
and the Asheville Times the evening newspaper, and the two papers
combined for the Sunday edition. Eventually, the two papers merged and
began printing one daily edition.
B. D. preserved each column, clipped from the newspaper. These sat
in a scrapbook, and yellowed over the years, and began to
disintegrate. Fortunately, sometime in the late 1980s, my mother
(B. D.'s daughter) Brenda photocopied each column to make a book of
them, and that is likely the only reason why these columns survive to
My scans are taken from the photocopies my mother made.
I believe this is the complete set of WNC Flight Plan articles,
because B. D. numbered them himself as he put them into his scrapbook.
- Column 1: August 26, 1962.
- Column 2: September 9, 1962.
- Column 3: September 23, 1962.
- Column 4: October 7, 1962.
- Column 5: October 21, 1962.
- Column 6: November 4, 1962.
- Column 7: November 18, 1962.
- Column 8: December 2, 1962.
- Column 9: December 16, 1962. "Snow Grounds Planes"
- Column 10: December 30, 1962. "Open Letter To
- Column 11: January 13, 1963. "Chicago Flight
In Cessna Slightly Less Than Routine"
- Column 12: January 27, 1963. "When It Comes
To Parachuting ..."
- Column 13: February 20, 1963. "Speaking Too
Fast Over Radio Makes Words Garbled"
- Column 14: February 24, 1963. "Biggest
Problem Facing CAP Is Maintenance Of Aircraft"
- Column 15: March 10, 1963. "Of Gray Hair And
- Column 16: March 24, 1963. "Tampering With
Aircraft Serious Offense."
- Column 17: April 7, 1963. "Pilots May Have
Answer To Safe Driving Program"
- Column 18: April 21, 1963. "Throb of Biplane
- Column 19: May 5, 1963. "Where's The Starter
Button? Frustrated Pilot Asks Self"
- Column 20: May 19, 1963.
- Column 21: June 2, 1963. "Feathered Prop Is
Cold, Lonely Sight To Pilot"
- Column 22: June 16, 1963. "Pilot Finds Golf
Balls A Hazard To Airplane"
- Column 23: June 30, 1963. "Who Are The Heroes?
- Column 24: July 14, 1963. "Navigation Is A
Science, But At Times A Shaky One"
- Column 25: July 28, 1963. "What Is A Flight Instructor?"
- Column 26: August 11, 1963. "Pilot Grows
Nostalgic About Plane He Owned"
- Column 27: August 25, 1963. "Not All Consider
Modern Aircraft As 'Tricycle-Geared Creampuffs'"
- Column 28: September 8, 1963. "Earthly
Reference Points Still Required By Pilots"
- Column 29: September 22, 1963. "60th Year Of
Powered Flight To Be Observed In December"
- Column 30: October 6, 1963. "October Is Time
- Column 31: October 20, 1963. "For Plane That
Died, DC-3 Is Doing Well"
- Column 32: November 3, 1963. "Some Aviation
- Column 33: November 17, 1963. "Aircraft Often Perform
Far Beyond That For Which They Were Designed"
- Column 34: December 1, 1963. "Aviation Moving
- Column 35: December 22, 1963. "Flying Bug
Took Toll On Christmas In '26"
- Column 36: January 5, 1964. "Pilot Tells Of
Long Flight To Nashville As Passenger For A Change"
- Column 37: January 19, 1964. "Some Older
Pilots Seem To Have Their Own Built-In Instruments"
Note: I do
not have the story about Beale Fletcher referenced on this page.
- Column 38: February 2, 1964. "To Be A Good
Pilot You Gotta Hate Weeds"
- Column 39: February 16, 1964. "Time Is Of The
Essence For The Aircraft Pilot"
- Column 40: March 1, 1964. "Sandy Hudson Wins
Recognition With His Tri-Motored Glider" (Page 1)
- Column 41: March 15, 1964. "Flatlanders
Puzzled By Mountain Flying" (Page 1)
- Column 42: March 29, 1964. "Youths Eyeing
Flying Career Told To Make Most Of School"
- Column 43: April 12, 1964. "Friendly Airpark Need
For Asheville Cited"
- Column 44: April 26, 1964. "Treatment That
Folks Receive Is What Makes Airport Busy"
- Column 45: May 10, 1964. "Supersonic
Transport Program Moves Along"
- Column 46: May 24, 1964. "Walk-Around Check
Insures Longer Life For Plane, Pilot"
- Column 47: June 14, 1964. "The Story Of A
"Frank" is Thomas Frank Baker, who
died in WWII. The letter referenced is extant in a typescript
B. D. made for his own use (in the days before photocopies).
- Column 48: June 28, 1964. "Those Who Fly
Preach A Lot"
- Column 49: July 12, 1964. "Adventure Is In
- Column 50: August 2, 1964. "Carelessness,
Inattention Hasten Moment Of Truth"
- Column 51: August 23, 1964. "Airplanes Are
Characters; Some Temperamental, Even"
- Column 52: September 6, 1964. "Wild Blue
Yonder As Wild As Ever"
- Column 53: October 11, 1964. "'Flying Spoken Here'"
- Column 54: November 8, 1964. "Who Said Flying
Is For The Birds?"
- Column 55: November 22, 1964. "Flying By The
Book Getting Complicated"
- Column 56: December 27, 1964. "For Some, The
AF [Air Force] Pilot Will Never Be Obsolete"
- Feature Article: Friday, January 8,
1965. "Stencel Aero Engineering Corp. Contributes To Fighting Men's
Safety" (Page 1)
Not A WNC Flight Plan column, but a feature written at this time.
- Column 57: January 10, 1965. "Some Daring
Fighter Pilots Are Now Staid Businessmen"
- Column 58: January 24, 1965. "Flying Is
Recommended For Therapeutic Value"
- Column 59: February 21, 1965. "'It's Just A Gag,' The Pilot Tells
His Choking Passengers"
- Column 60: March 14, 1965. "Manchester Is Remembered
For 'Few Who Did SO Much'"
- Column 61: April 4, 1965. "Those Who Fly Are
Tuned To Beat Of Other Drums"
- Column 62: May 2, 1965. "'Airplanes Flown By
People Who Can't Even Open A Can'"
- Column 63: May 20, 1965. "The Only One Still In The Air"
- Column 64: June 13, 1965. "Lost Birdmen
Laugh, But Only Later"
- Column 65: October 24, 1965. "For Old J-5
Pilot, Traveling Airline Is Going First Class"
Despite all appearances to the contrary from the amount of
material B. D. made for me, even a cartoon about me learning to fly, I
have never had any inclination towards learning to fly airplanes. I
definitely enjoyed learning from B. D., but would have enjoyed
learning just about anything from him. The urge to get into an
airplane and fly it has never occurred in me.
- One-Page Encyclopedia
- By The Numbers
How to fly by
- By The Numbers'
A problem for me to work out. Unfortunately, I
did not notice it was a problem for me to work out and
- Some Flying Things, p. 1
- Some Flying Things, p. 2
- Two Engines Are Better?
I am positive this is based on a true story BD read
about, either at the time he wrote this or which he was
- Two Engines Are Better?
- A Few F. A. R. (Federal Air Regulations)
- How All Aircraft Controls Work p. 1
- How All Aircraft Controls Work p. 2
- Aviation Basic Study Course (Page
This is undated, but B. D. prepared it for me in 1979,
when I was nine years old.
- Aviation Basic Study Course (Page 2)
- Aviation Basic Study Course (Page 3)
- Aviation Basic Study Course (Page 4)
- A Lesson In Radio Procedure
- How Does [the altimeter]
Work? (Page 1)
In 1983, I asked him about the footnote to
"A Lesson In Radio Procedure", from 1979, and he explained it.
- How Does [the altimeter]
Work? (Page 2)
- How Does [V. O. R.]
Again, a follow-up in 1983 to the 1979 "A Lesson In
Radio Procedure" footnote.
- A Brief History
- And Now, A Look At The
I guess this is related to flying.
Why A "Cone" In A Bearing?
These papers were written in pencil, and thus are less well
preserved. Fortunately, the pencil scanned well. Even so, these
pages have had a hard life and are bent and crumpled.
- Page 1
- Page 2
- Page 3
- Page 4
- Isolated diagram
"Morrow Brake Dry". This diagram may or may not go with the other
papers. It was done in the same pencil and seems to be very
closely related to them, however, and has always been kept with
(I'm almost certain that I asked B. D. what a "Morrow" brake
was, since I had not encountered one before.)
December 5, 1979
- Once Upon A Time
February 26, 1984, this is one of the last pieces B. D. ever wrote. In
the early 1980s, and most pronounced in 1984, B. D. turned his eyes
inward as his health worsened and relived those days of carefree
youth. He produced some of his most moving and poignant creative work.
- To Lloyd And Eva Williams On The
Occasion Of Their 30th Wedding Anniversary
Dated September 26,
1976. These people were members of the Royal Arcanum, a fraternal
order that sold insurance. The order would frequently have parties and
meetings for members (I remember attending the Thanksgiving and
Christmas parties as a small child). The Royal Arcanum arose in the
days of the Moose Lodge and other social clubs, and such orders have
almost completely vanished.
Poem in honor
of the Royal Arcanum's 100th anniversary as a fraternal order. As can
be seen here, the "Grand Council" and other names (such as the title
of the order itself) gave the Royal Arcanum, at least on paper, an
almost unbelievable air of pomposity and pretentiousness as these
small groups made up grandiose names and ranks for their members. In
actuality, I remember it being all in good fun, at the Christmas
- Spring I and II
- A Career (as a gardener)
- Free Verse
the only reason that this poem survives is that B. D. gave me what
he thought was some blank typing paper to draw on, and this poem
was near the bottom of the stack, as if he had placed it there and
forgotten about it. I do not know that he wanted to let people
read it. The poem is highly uncharacteristic of his work; it is
one of the most unusual pieces in all of his work. This is one
case where I have digitally erased the writing I put on the page,
which I believe strongly detracted from the poem.
- Winter, You Say?
- Ode To A Toad
A few pieces which defy categorization.
- About B. D.
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