Category archives:Uncategorized


Posted on November 6, 2017

This is a great new military thriller by my former commanding officer at HSL-43, in San Diego. George is a New York Times best-selling author, and I think this book represents his best work!

Here is a link to purchase a copy (the Kindle version is free today only):

Check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.


Posted on April 18, 2016

I will be signing books at the Bee Cave, Texas, Public Library on April 30th, from 2:00 to 3:45 pm. If you don’t already have a copy, there will be hardcover editions available for purchase at the event.


Posted on March 8, 2016

The Leper Colony (Stef Maier, J.R. Esquivel and Howard Polden) will be signing books with me at the Texas Chili Parlor (1409 Lavaca St, Austin, TX) next Monday, March 14th, from 7 to 9 pm.  Scott “Zoob” Zublin and Jose “Pepe” Lozano will also be in attendance.

If you don’t already have a copy of Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve, there will be hardcover editions available for purchase.

Travis County Commissioners Court honors Kevin McDonald

Posted on February 24, 2016

Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve – The Chronicles of a Public Safety Helicopter Pilot by Kevin McDonald

Travis County Commissioners Court honors Kevin McDonald:

In 2012, the Travis County Commissioners Court passed the following proclamation, honoring his service:

WHEREAS, in May of 2000, after Kevin McDonald and his crew, with a patient onboard, suffered an engine failure on short final to a confined helipad, placing the aircrew in a highly vulnerable position, Kevin skillfully waived off his approach, avoided the large array of high-tension power lines in front of him, and landed the crippled aircraft on one engine at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. His outstanding piloting skills were directly responsible for saving the lives of four crewmembers and a patient;

WHEREAS, in November of 2001, after Kevin flew numerous rescue missions in torrential rain squalls throughout the night, effecting the rescue of 15 persons who had become trapped in deadly flood waters, he and his crew were awarded the Rotor & Wing Helicopter Heroism Award, as well as the Higgins and Langley Memorial Swiftwater Rescue Award. The story was aired nationally on the Weather Channel’s Storm Storiesseries;

WHEREAS, in April of 2009, Kevin and his crew performed an extraordinary moving rescue on the Lampasas River, during which he was forced to maneuver over bridges and power lines with the rescue swimmer suspended below the helicopter. His piloting skills and excellent coordination with his crew, in a very dynamic and challenging situation, resulted in the saving of two lives;

WHEREAS, in his twenty-year career at STAR Flight, Kevin has:

  • Flown 3,752 hours in four different aircraft types,
  • Transported more than 2300 patients,
  • Rescued more than 130 persons during floods and other dangerous emergencies,
  • Performed more than 1000 firefighting water drops in Central Texas,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Travis County Commissioners Court commends Kevin McDonald for his brave, life-saving actions during medical emergencies, floods, fires and numerous situations that required a skilled pilot. His service to the citizens of Travis County and Central Texas is measured not only by statistics, but also by lives and property saved. We thank him for his years of dedicated service.

Book Summary

Posted on February 17, 2016

Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve – The Chronicles of a Public Safety Helicopter Pilot by Kevin McDonald

Book Summary:

Travis County STAR Flight, in Austin, Texas, is recognized as one of the premier public-safety helicopter programs in the United States. Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve is a firsthand account of the tragedy and triumph witnessed by STAR Flight crews as they respond to a myriad of emergencies, everything from traumatic injuries to rescues and more. The author, Kevin McDonald, recounts how he turned his passion for flying into an extraordinary career, filled with real-life twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. From his early days as a naval aviator, to his twenty years as a STAR Flight pilot, Kevin takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Even if you’re not an aviation enthusiast, you need to strap in for this read. This is more than a book about flying helicopters—it’s a book about life, life inside the dead man’s curve.


Posted on February 8, 2016

I’m happy to announce that our first book signing event is all set.  It will be on Monday evening, March 14th, from 7-9 pm at the Texas Chili Parlor, located at 1409 Lavaca Street in Austin, Texas.  If you don’t already have a copy of LIFE INSIDE THE DEAD MAN’S CURVE to bring with you, they will be available for purchase that night.  I hope to see you all there, as several of my former STAR Flight crew members will also be there to sign the book.

About the Author

Posted on February 7, 2016

Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve – The Chronicles of a Public Safety Helicopter Pilot by Kevin McDonald

About the Author:

Having received a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Kevin McDonald was commissioned into the United States Navy as an ensign in 1982. Two years later, he graduated at the top of his Navy flight school class and spent the next eight years flying as a naval aviator, logging most of his time in helicopters. In 1992, during the drawdown that followed the First Gulf War, he left the Navy and became a public-safety pilot for Travis County STAR Flight in Austin, Texas. As a native Texan, Kevin was a perfect fit for STAR Flight; and his literary background made him the perfect person to document the tragedy and triumph he would witness from the cockpit of his helicopter. By the time his career ended in 2012, he had flown more missions, logged more hours, and completed more rescues than any pilot in the history of the program. Now retired, he lives in Austin with his wife, Nancy, who was by his side for most of his thirty-five-year flying career.

Foreword by Captain George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)

Posted on February 3, 2016

Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve – The Chronicles of a Public Safety Helicopter Pilot by Kevin McDonald

Foreword by Captain George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.):

This is a book about flying—not just any flying—but the kind of seat-of-the-pants flying that harkens back to the days when the airplane was a novelty, and barnstorming pilots entertained millions across the country. It is the kind of flying where the pilot is truly “one with the machine,” and the best pilot isn’t the one who must think a lot about what he’s doing with the controls.  Instead, the machine simply responds to his subconscious.

It’s also a book about a specific type of aircraft—helicopters—unquestionably the most unique flying machines to evolve since the Wright Brothers first rose precariously above the dunes at Kitty Hawk.  Because it is a book about helicopters, it is also a book about helicopter pilots, who are a unique breed, categorically set apart from their fixed-wing brethren. How unique?

Here is what the iconic newscaster, Harry Reasoner, had to say about helicopters and their pilots back in 1971:

The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter. This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot and why, in general, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooders, introspective anticipators of trouble. They know that if something bad has not happened, it is about to.

Fair enough. But this book, Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve, is not exactly the lament of a disillusioned pessimist.  It is a true story of hard-earned fulfillment, written by a helicopter pilot who falls closer to the fixed-wing end of Harry Reasoner’s spectrum, a point on the scale that lies somewhere between the optimist and the realist. That said, this book is about what is arguably the most challenging kind of flying on the planet—helicopters engaged in lifesaving missions—and it documents both the triumphs and the heartbreaking tragedies that are inevitably part of the landscape when you’re flying an EMS helicopter. EMS is short for “Emergency Medical Service,” and most of us are at least vaguely familiar with EMS helicopters. They are the lifesaving aircraft that arrive at the scene of a horrific car crash, or show up when a person in a remote area suffers a heart attack, or are dispatched when a climber falls in an otherwise inaccessible area.

In a way that is not entirely different from military aviators, EMS pilots are called upon daily to be the difference between life and death; and there have been many books written about military aviation, the line of work in which I was engaged for thirty years. For two of those years, in the late 1980s, I commanded the Battle Cats of HSL-43, a Navy helicopter squadron based at NAS North Island, in San Diego. A young Kevin McDonald, the author, was one of my pilots back then. Kevin excelled as a naval aviator and subsequently found his calling as an EMS pilot in Travis County, Texas. This story is not only about his journey—it’s a never-before-revealed look into the confidential world of EMS flying.

The title of this book, Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve, reveals a great deal. Military flying, even in combat, is governed by long lists of rules and regulations. Safety is paramount, and because of this, the list of “don’ts” for military pilots is ponderously long. For helicopters specifically, there are combinations of altitudes and airspeeds that you must avoid as a military pilot.  If a fledgling military helicopter pilot can’t (or won’t) avoid these dangerous combinations and routinely flies on the wrong side of the “dead man’s curve,” his career can be terminated abruptly and even violently.  But EMS pilots, by the nature of their mission, spend a hugeamount of time inside the dead man’s curve. This means that to rescue an injured person, retrieve an accident victim, or pluck a stranded hiker from an impossible situation, they must purposely fly on the wrong side of the dead man’s curve, at an altitude and airspeed that affords them no chance of recovery if an engine hiccups, a gust of wind hits them the wrong way, or any of a dozen untoward events happens.

With Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve, Kevin McDonald takes us deep inside this world in a brisk narrative that is both uplifting and frightening. The reader will “fly along” on EMS missions and learn what it’s like to live inside that dead man’s curve. The stories will leave you breathless, and you will also deep-dive into the human psyche of the unique professionals who hear the EMS calling. Read this book, and the next time you see an accident or hear a siren, you’ll get a knot in your stomach, knowing that the victim’s best—and often only—chance is that someone “shaking the sticks” of an EMS helicopter is not far away.

Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve puts you inside the cockpit of an Emergency Medical Service helicopter on life-or-death missions. It is difficult to sum this book up in a few paragraphs, but in writing this Foreword, I was constantly reminded of a quote by World War II Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, who famously said, “There are no extraordinary men . . . just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.”

Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve takes you on an extraordinary journey with the otherwise-ordinary professionals who perform remarkable feats when they “shake the sticks” of EMS helicopters. Strap in, hold on—and be prepared for an emotional, adrenaline-charged ride.