Some Answers to Reviewer Question on Openings

I saw these questions posed by a reviewer on Openings and thought I’d respond to them (questions are italicized)

They use old-fashioned airplanes, for which they first have to build airstrips. What is wrong with helicopters!! I know they had helicopters in Vietnam. But maybe that’s painful to remember. Saigon, you know.

Three issues regarding using helicopters: range, payload, maintenance, and that doesn’t include the need for flight training (easier for a pilot who is already trained on single-engine fixed-wing to transition to twin-engine fixed-wing than to transition to rotary-wing).

Let’s talk about range and payload – the helicopters in Vietnam (usually Hughes UH1 (several further designation, but let’s go with the utility helicopter, the UH1B) had a range of 318 miles and a payload capacity of 3,880 lbs, as opposed to a range of 1,307 miles the payload capacity of 8,740 lbs (more than twice that of the Huey) of a DHC-4 (mind you, I’m using maximum numbers – range changes based on payload).

On maintenance, while I don’t have the numbers, it’s pretty clear that with helicopters, like airplanes, it’s based on hours of flight (cumulative). Flying slower for longer times (600 miles at 127 mph equals about 4.7 flight hours vs. 600 miles at 215 mph equals about 2.8 flight hours) means maintenance will have to be done more often than flying faster for less time.

On a personal note, as to the Saigon reference, I lived in Laos from 1971-1974. I vividly recall the evacuation of Saigon in April, 1975 (something our current president facilitated by not allowing President Ford to obtain money from congress to us the US Military to delay NVA forces long enough to ensure a more secure evacuation. I also worked as a volunteer in the refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia. At the time, I was in high school. How many other high-school students do you know who helped removed dead people from a field-expedient hospital? So, yes, I do recall Saigon and the aftermath.

They get in long distance airplanes to map the world, with difficult refueling. Zeppelins (airships, dirigibles) had circled the world in 1929. Explored the North pole in the 20’s. They flew passengers across the Atlantic on regular lines…

One of the purposes behind the Monarch plane in the Corps of Discovery series is to fly high, so as not to be seen with the naked eye, or if seen, to be confused with a bird at a lower altitude. As I write speculative fiction, I can design my own equipment :-). Clearly, a dirigible wouldn’t fit that requirement.

In Openings, the issue is flying long-distance between Eastern Washington and the gold country of California. Again, a DHC-4 requires a crew of two and can be refueled by transporting readily available avgas through the portal. While dirigibles can carry more and travel longer distances, they also require more crew members (the Hindenburg had a crew of 36, and that doesn’t include the necessary ground crew and docking infrastructure) and helium or hydrogen (hard to obtain readily or transport safely through the portal).

So, I hope I answered your questions as to why I did what I did vis-a-vis aircraft in Openings.

One thought on “Some Answers to Reviewer Question on Openings”

  1. A part of the Paris agreement was that the U S would continue to fund South Vietnam for a number of years. The dem controlled Congress RENEGED on this and the South ran out of gas….


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