A Plane Crash

Eric and Carol, many years before the plane crash


A plane crash. That’s how I became a writer. With a death and a promise.

Eric and I were married for over 20 years, and when he died 36 days after an experimental test plane crash, my promise to tell the world about him drove my life. My career goal as a zoo education curator ended the day he died, and I was propelled on to a trajectory I had never imagined. It took 14 years of school, writing coaches, workshops, study, and constant rejection, but I finally published Flight through Fire. It was followed by A Grief Workbook for Skeptics.

I have three science degrees and a pilot’s license—I never aspired to be a writer. But I embraced the power of words and wondered if I could use my conservation, ecology, and climate activism background to spur teens to environmental action. Along the way I saw what was happening in the world and became a climate activist. I refuse to sit by and do nothing as the climate crisis rages on.

The Skye Van Bloem Trilogy was born from my desire to help the planet, and I donate book royalties to environmental nonprofits. I can live with less money, but I can’t live without the wonderful animals that make my life rich. Countdown highlights our disappearing biodiversity, Holding is a climate dystopia, and Launch illustrates the critical role governments and personal choices play in saving biodiversity and our climate.

Every day I miss my best friend, Eric. Life after the plane crash has been unbelievably difficult. I occasionally give speeches about grief, and I hope there are people who are helped by my words and my writing. The plane crash changed my life and that of my daughters, but I’m proud of the fact that I never sued. I will not be a victim. I channeled much of Eric’s personality for the character of Starion in my young adult trilogy. In a way, he lives on. A plane crash is not going to prevent me from keeping his memory alive, and I’m proud to have funded 25 kids with a Space Camp scholarship at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, in Eric’s memory. The display honoring Eric at the Cosmosphere has, sadly, been taken off exhibit.

But . . .

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that Eric’s flight suit, helmet, G-suit, logbook, and various amazing personal items are scheduled to be on display at the Dutch Nationaal Militair Museum on the site of the old Soesterberg Air Base in the Netherlands, where Eric sat alert in his F-15 as part of the NATO forces in Europe during the Cold War. This incredible museum is the protector of the memory of the 32TFS Wolfhounds. The exhibit may take some time to assemble. Stay tuned for updates and details.

Wishing you all tailwinds,