Please tell us about your adventure, romance novel.
Do you know what a burqua is? Well this adventure starts with the burqua…(or the lack of one)…and United States Air Force regulations.Major Mary Jane is a career officer—(a fighter pilot) who was discharged for refusing to wear a burqua off base in Saudi Arabia. With no experience and not knowing any better, she contracts to repossess a luxury Boeing 747 jet liner from a power Saudi Prince.
Her challenge is not only learning( on-the-job) how to repossess a jetliner from a Saudi prince, but dealing with colorful and often dangerous people and turning it into a business. Her efforts result in a great adventure-romance set in today’s Islamic world.
In non-fiction one might interview a woman in a burqua talking about her faith, but a novel permits the reader to walk in that woman’s shoes. The reader will know what it is really like to suffocate in the heat, to eat with a veil, to go to a public restroom where people wonder if you are a man or woman, to walk behind a man in servitude, to never be allowed to be alone in public, never to drive your own car. Peering through a tiny grill in the veil that only permits forward vision, the vision of a man’s back, or swaying from side to side to avoid bumping into things. Ironically, Plane Jane’s, heroine, Mary Jane must wear the burqua as a disguise in Saudi Arabia to repossess the airplane, and experience first-hand what it is actually like to wear such a thing… and she doesn’t like it.
Are all Americans in the Air Force forced to wear the burqua when on active duty in Saudi Arabia?
No longer, but for a time women in the Air Force were required to wear the burqua, not allowed to drive vehicles off-base, and were required to walk several paces behind their fellow airmen both off-base and on the military reservation.
Is it still Air Force policy to require females to wear the burqua in Muslim countries?
That came to an end in 2002 when USA Air Force female fighter pilot, Col. Martha McSally sued the Air Force for discrimination and won. Her story was widely publicized but I wrote Plane Jane before she won her lawsuit.
Does the Koran mandate the burqua?
No, it does not. Nor does the Koran mandate many of the Islamic traditions that—in my opinion—are designed to subjugate women; take away their power; make them into nothing more than slaves. In Plane Jane, Mary uses the burqua as a disguise. Slavery still exists in many Muslim countries
Why do women wear the burqua then?
For men to dominate or subjugate women they must first take away their power. The burqua covers 98% of the body and it does just that.
Arab men often say the burqua covers their women from covetous and envious eyes and that it protects their modesty. If that were remotely true these men would also cover their Mercedes in a burqua
The actual meaning of the word burqua is to cover the shameful parts.
What is the status of the burqua in the West?
In 2010 France banned the burqua entirely, not just at schools, but everywhere in public. Spain has begun talking about doing the same. Italy has just introduced legislation to ban the burqua, Syria bans it in Universities, and Australia has just begun debating the subject in Parliament. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science has just banned it.
What kind of woman is Major Mary Jane—the heroine of your novel?
Mary Jane is the ideal of many modern American females: Strong-willed, independent, a redhead raised in Paris. Learned to fly airplanes by the time she was 12 She is a beautiful young woman who lives hard and loves hard. She constantly fascinated me—a competition swordsman, widely traveled, a career officer. A fighter pilot who flew A-10 tank-buster-gunships affectionately called “Warthogs.” In combat over Iraq.
Is your heroine, Major Mary Jane, based on Colonel McSally’s character or her experiences?
When the news story broke in 2002 about female Air Force personnel being forced to wear burquas, I was stunned and it stuck in my mind. But at the time I did not even know McSally’s name, only the story.
You call your novel, Plane Jane, an adventure/romance. What is her love interest in your story?
Mary has designs on her co-pilot with whom she had an affair some years before in Turkey. She and Jesus Martinez, an American officer of Mexican heritage, they were an item then but were separated by a fluke. In Plane Jane Mary and Jesus fly to exotic Paris, Jeddah and San Francisco, giving her plenty of time for mischief.
Is repossessing of a jetliner a figment of your imagination or has it happened before?
Airline companies start up and fail every year in every country in the world. When failure happens their planes could be anywhere in any condition. Most all jetliners are financed and those companies want their airplanes back and are willing to pay a high price for someone to do it, often under dangerous circumstances. Mary and Jesus learning as they go, with her dressed in a burqua and walking behind her man.
In real life are their companies that specialize in this field?
In Plane Jane, Mary and Jesus form their own airplane repossession company. However, an American company, Sage-Popovich alone has repossessed 1,200 airliners and there are others like ‘the Grim Reaper’ Ken Hill of Aeronautical Systems. He averages about 30 per year. Ken Gage in Orlando, Florida.
Are some jet aircraft stolen?
Yes, most by criminal organizations, but some by dictators or generals in small countries like the Congo, Venezuela, Haiti and many former Soviet Republics like Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria or Tajikistan. Repossessing these aircraft is always dangerous. Often stolen aircraft have yoke or thruster locks; they can be booby-trapped or stripped of engines and electronics. Finding these aircraft is also an art form.
Why are so many luxury aircraft bought by Arab royal families and rich businessmen?
In my opinion, during the early 70’s there were many scandals involving American companies giving kickbacks to Arab middlemen. It is a common practice in most of the world, but not in the USA. Holding meetings in luxury airplanes became a convenient and exciting way of doing business anonymously. New found Arab wealth, of course, can afford $100 – 200 million dollar airplanes.
Tell us about your background that influenced you to write Plane Jane.
I was a Marine during the Korean War. After the war, I flew my own helicopter and was invited to fly for the Rhodesian Army. I also flew for a Senator in the Philippines during the President Marcos period.
As a helicopter pilot, I’ve have spent considerable time in Saudi Arabia and know something about their culture and I’ve been to places where stolen aircraft are often destined.
Have you ever been in danger?
In Arabia, I narrowly missed being arrested and sent to the square. I was at the Jeddah airport to receive a shipment of desalination equipment. Unfortunately, an Egyptian customs agent wrote 'distillation' equipment at a time when two British subjects were arrested for distilling and making
whiskey, which wasn't true, but an infidel's word is worth half of the Muslim accuser. They were sentenced to 15 lashes on the square, which, with an 8 foot ebony pole is considered a death sentence. I hid for three weeks before the Governor of Mecca reversed the findings. Without high-up help I
would have been dead.
I witnessed brutality toward women and the crushing punishment meted out for the smallest real or imagined moral digressions. I have witnessed the sale of illicit diamonds, the trafficking of women for prostitution, and the massive theft of autos, machinery and aircraft from Europe and America.
Are you currently writing another book?
Yes, The Return of Private Fischer comes out in Spring/Summer 2011 and the sequel to Plane Jane, The Flight of the Falcon, comes out in 2012
Where is Plane Jane available?
It is available on my website:.www.robertfischer.com or many bookstores.
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