Chapter One Thousand Seven Hundred Ninety-One
2nd April 1967
Over the Austro-German Border near Kiefersfelden
“Remember to always turn out from the ridge” Lenz said from the back seat of the sailplane as the tones from the variometer became lower pitched and further spaced.
Suse rolled the sailplane into a tight turn away from the ridge, careful to keep the speed up. The two-seat trainer was said to be a great wallowing tub. Suse had no experience with the smaller, lighter sailplanes to compare it to, so she had to take other people’s word for that. Flying back along the route that they had come, the beeping of the variometer sped up and the pitch became higher as they climbed parallel to the ridge.
“Good” Lenz said as they cleared the top of the ridge. The trees growing on the peak of the ridge seemed awfully close to Suse and she worried she was doing something wrong.
Making the run across the valley, they made a few more kilometers on the triangular course that had been laid out.
“This next ridge runs for several kilometers to the north-east” Lenz said, “Easy going with the wind direction today.”
As they reached the next ridge the sailplane started climbing and Suse turned on a course that was parallel to the top. Joining the Berlin Technical University’s Soaring Club had not been something that Suse had planned on doing and the reasons why she had was a bit embarrassing. After she had returned from Prague at the end of the previous summer, Kat had told her that she needed to get out and meet new people, go on a few dates, and have a social life as opposed to burying herself in her education. Joining a club where she was the only woman had seemed like a way to show Kat how she thought that the whole idea was absurd. Lenz Schultz, the retired Luftwaffe Ace who currently sat on the Lufthansa Board of Directors was the resident instructor for the club. Suse’s introduction to him had been a part of that and he had refused to let her back out once she had joined the club, several training flights at an airfield south of Berlin had followed though her schedule had frequently conflicted with that.
This weekend was Suse’s first chance to try her hand at Alpine soaring and it was every bit as nerve-wracking as she had thought it would be. It had come at a good time for her though. Manny, as well-meaning and aggravating as he was, had decided to reenter her life a few days before he left for the United States. He had apologized for what had happened and said that he had been an idiot for not seeing how his actions affected her. She had accepted Manny’s apology, but only with conditions and they would need to have a long talk when he got back. Like always, his timing was atrocious.
Hours later, landing at the airfield just outside Munich that was used by the Munich Tech Soaring Club, that was hosting them. Suse saw that the others in her club sitting around talking about what they had done over the course of the day.
“An announcement, gentlemen” Lenz said as he walked in, “It is my opinion that Suse Rosa is ready to fly solo and be as reckless as the rest of you.”
That resulted in them cheering and Suse being embarrassed.
I find it rather hard to fathom that I would find myself championed by the Great Granddaughter of Kaiser Bill… The letter from Doctor Stenhouse read as Kiki was trying to catch up on the pile of correspondence that had been languishing for the last week. Before she had written a letter back to the Scottish Doctor, she had looked into who Doctor Isabella Stenhouse was and had been shocked by a few details. Volunteering to serve in the Royal Army Medical Corps but denied any formal role in that organization, working as a civilian though the powers that be understood that it would be nearly impossible to do that. Kiki knew full well that things like that had played out often in the past and if she was being honest with herself, still happened.
The response by Kiki had been to send Doctor Stenhouse one of the silver beret pins of the Joint Medical Service and a letter promising that she would speak with Elizabeth of England on her behalf when she got the chance to make this right. In this new letter Stenhouse told Kiki that she was touched by her idea that something could still be done at this late date in response, but it was all water under the bridge. Regardless, in Kiki’s thinking it was something that could be addressed as opposed to the other more intractable messes she found herself dealing with.
One of the other letters Kiki had received was from Medical Service’s High Command in Koblenz had laid out how she presented them with something of a conundrum. Her name had come up among the list of Officers eligible for promotion. With her being in an elite unit like the FSR, highly decorated, and with her combat record it normally wouldn’t be a problem. The issue was that until Kiki completed her Internship she was still down as an FSR Hauptmann and Field Medic on paper. Promoting her to Oberstabsarzt, the equivalent of Major, would mean that she would outrank most of her instructors. Was it any wonder that she had been pushing herself so hard? It always felt like Kiki was outstripped by unfolding events.