North Park resident and retired pilot, Robin “R. D.” Kardon’s debut novel Flygirl, soared onto the bestseller list last fall with her tale of Tris Miles, a female pilot trying to break the blue ceiling when she’s blocked by co-workers determined to see her fail. But those guys didn’t expect Tris’ fearless determination and grit.
Flygirl was recently named a finalist in two categories at The 2020 International Book Awards and has been lauded as a compelling and heartfelt tale of courage and redemption.
Now, Kardon is launching her latest, Angel Flight, which continues Tris’ journey. Although the novel is the second in a trilogy, readers can enjoy Angel Flight on its own or before reading Flygirl.
Kardon, who was a professional pilot for 12 years, says aviation provided her with many story ideas. “Every time people found out I was a pilot, they’d ask dozens of questions,” Kardon says from her backyard in North Park. “People would ask if the crew had affairs while on assignment. They wanted to know if the Mile-High Club is a real thing. And often they asked what the heck is turbulence caused by,” she says with a laugh. “I found that people were especially intrigued by stories of women working in aviation.”
Kardon says she kept a notebook with ideas for 25 years before sitting down to write Flygirl, her debut novel. The overwhelmingly positive response to that book told her that readers are interested in the behind-the-scenes lives of pilots. She understands the interest. “I flew all over the world. I flew businesspeople and vacation travelers, sometimes into up to seven cities in a day. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.”
In both of her novels, Kardon draws from her experiences as a female pilot. “I met many interesting people, pieces of whom found their way into certain characters. Flygirl was based on an actual job I had as a pilot, so all of the characters in that book are inspired by real people,” she says.
When she finished Flygirl, Kardon felt Tris Miles had more stories to share. She immediately jumped into writing Angel Flight. “The first time I heard the term ‘angel flight’ was when I was co-pilot on a trip flying a child burn victim from Chicago to St. Jude Hospital for treatment,” Kardon recalls. “That’s when I learned that the term was shorthand for a medical transport. As a corporate pilot, I flew a woman with a severe spinal cord injury to the Mayo Clinic for treatment in a private jet. My company donated the airplane and the services of the crew. Her family couldn’t afford to hire their own plane, and if it weren’t for us, she’d have no way of getting the life-altering treatment she needed. That trip inspired Angel Flight.”
Although Angel Flight is the second novel in which Kardon features Tris Miles, it is a standalone book. “I hope Angel Flight readers will want to know more about Tris and pick up a copy of Flygirl but starting with Angel Flight won’t spoil any surprises.” Tris will face more career and personal challenges as she struggles to find and fit the pieces of the life she wants together, and hopefully leave her mark along the way. Look for the final book in the Trilogy in 2022.