Novels Elementary

City of Lights by Tim Vicary

A young pilot Cathy Fox has lost her job. She is said to be seriously ill. But Cathy tells a completely different story. Last year she flew a space-plane called “Space Bird One”. Two other girls accompanied her. Helen was another astronaut and Mary was a journalist. The trip was very important and it was broadcast all over the world. The flight was going well until the girls saw a strange object. Mary wanted to discuss it on the TV, but the other girls did not let her. As the space-plane tried to move away from the object, the motors suddenly broke down. The plane went out of the Earth’s orbit at the risk of never coming back. Fortunately, the pilots found a way out. What the girls saw on the dark side of the Moon changed their lives forever.

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City of Lights by Tim Vicary


Astronaut Cathy Fox today lost her job at NASA because she is ill. Another astronaut from NASA, Helen Wilson, said Cathy was seriously ill and could never fly again. Last year. Astronaut Fox was the pilot on the first flight of the space-plane ‘Space Bird One’.

I remember the day of the take-off. It was a beautiful day – sunshine, blue sky, and no clouds anywhere. I was so excited, I thought it was the best day of my life.

There was a warm, soft wind, blowing across the desert. I remember that because, as we were walking towards the plane, the wind blew Mary’s hair across her face. The cameramen loved that. Helen and I cut our hair real short, like all astronauts. But Mary’s hair is long and fair. The gentle wind blew it everywhere, and one TV cameraman walked in front of her, filming it.

There were cameramen everywhere. I guess that it looked real good on breakfast TV – three young women in silver spacesuits, walking across the desert sand in the early morning sun. And there in front of us, on the runway, was our fantastic, beautiful, black and silver space-plane.

City of Lights by Tim Vicary

There were no other planes like this anywhere. And tomorrow this one would be floating beside the orbiting Space Station. Three days later, we would be back here, on this runway, on Earth.

That is the reason why this plane is so fantastic. It can take off from an ordinary airport, like an ordinary plane, and fly straight up into space like a spacecraft, then it can fly back down and land again like a plane. It uses its own engines all the time – jet engines in the atmosphere, rocket engines in space. It is easy. And if the engines are OK, it can turn round the next day and fly back up again.

And I was going to fly it. Me – Cathy Fox, a twenty-nine-year-old girl from a small town in Georgia – I was going to be the first person to fly this wonderful, beautiful plane away from Earth and into black starry space.

We climbed in and sat in our seats. I looked at my hands as I touched the controls. They seemed quite still, quite calm – but inside I wanted to sing, I was so excited. Helen, my co-pilot, sat beside me and Mary sat behind us…

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