In the midst of the Roaring Twenties America is convinced she can do anything she puts her mind to. However the young nation’s military is constrained by post World War I treaties, and by drastic cuts in spending. Political in-fighting for the control of military aviation becomes a new battlefield.
To counter this trend the brilliant navy Rear Admiral William Moffett challenges Hawaii-based Commander John Rodgers with a death-defying mission—one designed to sway politicians and the public alike to the navy’s side. Rodgers accepts and agrees to command three planes in a seemingly impossible mission; the first flight from California to Hawaii. This is a bold gamble that could make or break the navy’s bid to control its own air power. To bolster his position Moffett lines up a second publicity-grabbing stunt involving the world’s largest dirigible.
As the navy readies the bi-planes that will attempt the unprecedented crossing, there are tremendous engineering hurdles that must be cleared to get the mission off the ground--literally. During the months that follow, Rodgers’ men implement some truly ingenious ideas that allow the program to advance.
And while Rodgers prepares his crews for the mission he is faced with problems of his own. Looming ominously is the prospect of a divorce that in this era could destroy his chances for advancement. Plus his deteriorating eyesight could spell the end of his flying career.
To Rodgers’ chagrin his marriage collapses. In its wake, he meets Akiko, the enchanting daughter of Masahiro Mikami, the Japanese optometrist he secretly visits for contraband eye glasses. Against all odds, a tender love affair blossoms. As it does, we are transported to 1920’s Honolulu, Oahu’s magnificent Pali cliffs, and the desolate beauty of Kailua Beach. By the time Rodgers leaves for California in the summer of 1925 he is smitten, and Akiko’s photograph is never far from his heart.
When the start time finally arrives, Rodgers’ mission electrifies the nation. An anxious public holds its breath as the three planes queue for takeoff. Trouble ensues and one of the planes is forced down in the Pacific Ocean. To make matters worse, the navy dirigible shocks America with a serious dilemma of her own. The problems, mistakes, and tragedies that follow are truly stranger than fiction
Author's Note: This is a novel, but almost all the events and details in the story reflect the available historical record as closely as possible. Romantic relationships and direct conversations have been imagined by the author.