It is always an honor for us at Blueprint Press Internationale to share deep and meaningful conversations with authors like Rhonda Colia. She is so kind as to spare us some time to talk and discuss the contents of her book, The Crop Duster’s Daughter. During the discussion, Rhonda Colia also recounts how her Mom served as the book’s primary inspiration.
What else will we learn in the book “The Crop Duster’s daughter”
Rhonda Colia: She got shot down, and in line with that incident, she was giving a third flight lesson to a nervous male that she was gonna wash out because she just did not have the stamina for being a pilot. Mom wouldn’t be comfortable following her. And so, she was up on her third lesson, and she knew there was a thunder ahead, but it was on the horizon, they weren’t going to be on very long, and so she was gonna be able to take the lesson and get back in plenty of time before the storm hit.
Well, this was a fabric airplane that my mother built, and it was a taildragger…and she heard a pop and Mom said that it was probably just a clap of thunder, in truth, Mama just gotten a bullet in her back and it missed her heart by half an inch, and it came through the fabric of the airplane. Caught her in the back, and she knew something had happened, but she couldn’t believe she’d been shot. She just knew that she was in a panic, and her body was shutting down. And so she had to land that plane, so she took over the controls and told her she was gonna show her and demonstrate how to do a force landing.
And she landed the plane without incident, but she slumped over the wheel, and that’s when the nervous male never knew her name, but bless her heart. She saved my Mom’s life that day. She ran and got help. And my Mother actually went into a three-day comma after that. And she had a near-death experience, but she came out of it. She was remarkable.
What was your mother like?
Rhonda Colia: She was adventurous. Obviously. She loved anything that went fast. She met my father, and she traded Harley lessons for flying lessons, so she learned to ride a Harley and of course, she became a pilot, and they married later on about three years later.
Would you help people take away from reading your book? About your Mom?
Rhonda Colia: I hope they take away the fact that she was a real pioneer. She lived in a man’s world. She worked at a crop one time, and she was a foreman and she found a riveting pattern in one of the wings that was going to fail and having been an ANA mechanic and building her own airplane, she knew this. And she took it to her supervisor and he laughed at her and didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. And I beg to differ, so she quit her job because she could get anybody to listen to her. Which is a bold move because with 4 hungry kids and a single Mom back in the 50’s, that was a stigma, you know.
It was terrifying, and she did it anyway because her conscience wouldn’t let her knowingly create a failing wing, and so sure enough, about a year later, the plane failed. It was the wing, it was the riveting pattern, you know. And it didn’t make her feel good because knew it was gonna happen.
And you know, it’s just constant. People not giving her the credit she was due and not believing her. When she said something was going to happen, be it bad on that flight, she knew. And she always had a motto, “Take care of the airplane, and it will take care of you.”
She had a way of making things fun, and learning was always fun around my Mom. She was a teacher before she was a crop duster.
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