Saturday, January 29, 2011

Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)Image via Wikipedia
Higher Than Eagles:

The Tragedy and Triumph
of an American Family

By Maralys Wills and
Chris Wills

When your son tells you he is going to be different, to be someone who will follow his dreams, will you listen? Or what if you have another son who has decided he wants to fly and builds the equipment he will use to do so? In fact, one of the authors of the book, Chris, is that son. Maralys is his mother. This is the memoir of their family's life, but it is so much more. After all, no parent knows that their son will be making and breaking world records one after the other...

Here's a front note to readers:
I am the mother of six children--five boys and a girl. Three of the boys became hang glider pilots and two were champions. Together they drew us, their parents, into unpowered flight until we found ourselves unable to resist...
Bobby was the oldest of the children; he would spend most of his time tinkering and making things in their garage. School was unimportant; he had more important things to do. Like building a bicycle that you could drive from about 6 feet off the ground--his sky bike...and then later, a motorcycle flying with a glider. (Wow!)

Higher Than Eagles: The Tragedy and Triumph of an American FamilyIt was, Chris, though who would dream of flying, building his Red Baron first, which indeed did look like the famous one. Soon, however, they moved to bamboo and plastic gliders. I say they because it wasn't long before Bobby became a partner in Chris' dream. In fact, friends, family and the community were soon fans.

It was not easy raising a large family and with five boys, involvement in all kinds of sports was common. But soon Bobby and Chris were experienced enough that they were seen by that certain type of man--the oily, scheming weasels who have no problems in smiling and applauding your work to your face, and planning on taking advantage of your lack of business savvy behind your back.

Bobby and his father had always problems in communication. Where Bobby thought nothing of leaving the garage in a mess while he worked on some project, his father expected to also be able to use that space. Plus, of course, he had a job and paid the bills to keep the family going, so when strange men started hanging around, walking into their home and into work areas, things began to be even worse. Bobby enjoyed the praise and attention he was receiving. His father knew that his sons skills were marketable!

I appreciated the Wills family sharing the good and bad times as the family was growing, especially as the older ones began to look toward what their future held. It was wonderful to have the family move together to form Wills Wings, but only after they had learned the hard way that those who praise you can also be unworthy of your loyalty.

I know that stories about the beginning of air travel are wonderful, but I must admit that seeing the progression of the gliders and knowing that the pilot of gliders is the only thing that keeps the glider in the air, created a much more intimate look at the dreams of flying we have all had--none of mine, though, included flying alongside of eagles! My dream was to parachute from a plane...and, no, I never did... And after reading the story from both parents about their own trips, I doubt I ever would, although it was a thrill to learn that Bobby's father was so excited! 

Check out the pictures, the world records made, and the story of the Wills family. Death tore them apart; but their love pulled them through. A truly heartwarming story that, I think, parents of "creative" boys might just find a must-read!

Book Received Via
a Personal Recommendation


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  1. It is a poignant story, full of equal parts pathos and unbounded joys. Maralys is the ever-suffering yet ever-supportive mother, a bit bewildered at times by her enthusiastic brood, but always game to keep going along with whatever wacky ideas this family could dream up. Her "way with words" is a thing to behold. Carolyn Uber

    (full disclosure -- I am her publisher)

  2. What better person to comment on a book than the one who gave her the opportunity! I didn't say that I don't know how she handled that big family, but I think her willingness to fly and her terror of it said it all--Love!

  3. By the way, I had planned to include in my review, but then forgot! I was realllllllly impressed with your book, the foldouts on the covers really added a touch of class! Excellent work you are doing for your authors! Glad I remembered this time!

    Best, Glenda