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Coming out April 30, 2021. 

Young Adult stories from author and sculptor Margot McMahon's coming of age in Chicago, where she discovers her passion for art, justice and the mystery of trees in a home that Irene kept. 

Pre-order today with this link:

PayPal Airdrie



                                         

Happy Mother’s Day Irene!

How did an awarded travel writer, 

Montessori art teacher and mother of nine children 

in a home named 

AIRDRIE 

juggle it all?

The power of her mothering with seasonal patterns established a sound core of our family that can be discovered in AIRDRIE, a young adult book of the Mac and Irene series.  Irene’s gravitational center inspired confidence for us to explore as she guided us in music, art, reading, writing, ‘rithmetic. (“check you spelling,” she’d have said) and sports. Irene graduated as an art teacher from Francis Parker Teachers’ College during the A League of Their Own era and flew with United Airlines to transport supplies and military. High school sweethearts, Mac and Irene were fascinated with airplanes and flying.  Now I know why...
 

Tammie Davis Biddle’s astonishing explanation of the mind-boggling trajectory of aerial history captured the shared passion of teens, Mac and Irene during a brief time that redefined being American. First lets back up a bit. Eleven years after the Wright Brothers lifted Kitty Hawk, WWI wood and wire sophisticated bombers were built individually between 1914-1918. It’s hard not compare it to the robotic 2021 Ingenuity flight on Mars. Mac and Irene would be glued to each Mars tweet, FB post and newscast.  What humans can do

     

Before Mac and Irene were born, in June of 1919, military pilots John Alcock and Arthur Witten Brown flew a Vickers Vimy twin-engine plane, converted to a NC-4 seaplane, in 72 hours from the U.S. to crash in Derrygimla bog at Clifton, Ireland. Winston Churchill presented them the prize money and George V knighted them. The 1929 stock market crash followed by the 1930s Great Depression delayed airplane development, yet the 1932 Chicago Municipal Airport was the busiest in the nation with 100,847 passengers on 60,947 flights.

                          

            Chicago Municipal Airport (Midway Airport) expansion plans in 1937In 1935 Boeing designed the B-17 bomber (Model 299). The Stratoliner (Model 307) was developed from the four-engine Boeing B-17.  Mac and Irene were fifteen years old when Beryl Markham flew 20 hours from England on September 4th, 1936 across the Atlantic in a Vega Gill, The Messenger. Beryl survived the crash landing at Baleine Cove on Cape Breton Island, Nova ScotiaCanada. Two Boeing Stratoliners were ordered in1937. When Mac and Irene were graduating from high school, the 1938 Stratoliner took its maiden flight, it crashed in 1939. After the 1938 Munich Agreement failed, Britain and France ordered and financed the first mass production of U.S. planes. Aircraft technology for a limited number of bombers reached high speeds of 165 mph. 

 

        

      Irene flew in Boeing (307) Stratoliner        Mac flew Boeing (299) B-17 

 

In 1940, Mac and Irene were learning to drive a car when FDR ordered 50,000 aircraft, then another 50,000. Relentless sleepless nights increased strain for the required ingenuity of allocation and coordination of false starts, struggles, redesign and retraining for every nut and bolt, rivet and angle. The revolutionary B52 giant bomber, with a range of 5,000 miles, armor, armaments, and self-sealing gas tank, was developed.  Aeronautic history took a giant blind leap in 1941 as the newly named Chicago Midway Airport became the nations refuel hub. Every Midwest firm had an immediate need for finite sources of aluminum, steel, copper and glass. Bent Plexiglass allowed peripheral vision for pilots and navigators to say “twelve o’clock high” with standardized mass production.  Manufactured planes waited on guns, radios and propellers. Making trucks to transport fuel competed for shortages of materials. Between 1940 and 1942 300,000 aircraft were produced on Ford’s mile-long assembly line.

           

Irene’s Chicago flights took off from crisscrossing runways with a train track down the middle. At Molesworth, Mac navigated in the Flying Fortress that took off on intersecting runways for missions in formation.

                                  

           January of 1942 Illinois Reserve Militia guarded Midway Airport in WWII

January of 1942 Boeing converted its Model 307 to military service for overseas flights. Irene graduated from Francis Parker Teachers college (near Midway Airport) after Congress cut the education bill and joined teachers to fly with United Airlines in the the Stratoliner, that cruised at 20,000 feet and held 33 passengers. Airplane production rose 16-fold from 1942’s 6,806 planes to 1944’s 96,318 planes. By 1945, overseas passenger flights were commonplace. Who wasn’t fascinated?

 

                      

In 1942, Mac was a cartoonist for Chicago’s Extension Magazine when he entered training with the US Navy Air Force and service with the US Army Air Force based in Molesworth, England. He might have been influenced by Bill Mauldin’s 1930-1941 cartoons. “Bill drew six cartoons a week that were funny, original and insightful.  He didn’t transform the art of cartooning but he did create camaraderie amongst soldiers,” said Todd Carpestino author of Drawing Fire. Mauldin would visit the front lines and foxhole for a week, jot down sentences and sketch images.  Returning to the rear he reworked the cartoon sketches for Stars and Stipes.

                       

A military survivor, Charles Shultz paid tribute to Bill Mauldin on Veterans’ Days.

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Franklin (Mac) McMahon’s cartoons while in US Air Force training. 

 

Happy Centenary Birthday Irene!
May 27, 1921-1997

In 1942 High school sweethearts, Mac and Irene starting flying in the same plane. He was over Germany in a B17 Flying Fortress, she was traversing the continent with the new United Airlines. The were married in July of 1945 and, though they had nine children, never stopped taking off and landing in far away places. Published by Aquarius Press in May 2021. Read more about their WWII service in Mac and Irene: A WWII Saga.

       

 

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