It’s been a great 2023!

2023 was an incredible year for SKY RAIDER! Author Thomas Upson’s presentation of “Who Killed the Red Baron?” received top billing at Sun ‘n Fun and OshKosh. The book is available at both bookstores, so when you attend these air spectaculars in 2024, be sure to grab a copy! We also had a great time with book signings at countless airshows and fly-ins around the country, including the Florida Keys. Meeting & signing books alongside Vietnam Naval Ace Duke Cunningham was a highlight of OshKosh AirVenture. We always enjoy seeing our aerobatic friends at the shows, especially David Martin, Mikey, and Kirby. Keep an eye out for Dr. Upson at the next fly-in and airshow! He’s always happy to sign a copy of SKY RAIDER for you! Happy Holidays & looking forward to a wonderful 2024!

Legendary April

Dear Sky Raider Readers,

Spring is here and the flying season is off to a Legendary start!

We were fortunate to be invited to attend Sun ‘n Fun 2023 and participate in Authors’ Corner 3/28-4/2/2023!

The Florida Air Museum was amazing and an excellent location for the event and were such kind hosts.
 It was the perfect spot to present back-to-back talks on the 105 year old controversy of WHO KILLED THE RED BARON?
With such excellent weather – the camping was epic as were the air shows, especially the Saturday night airshow spectacular!
Great big thank you to Nick and his team at Sun ‘n Fun where you can buy signed copies of SKY RAIDER at the Air Museum Book Store.

Our main character Duke Thomas was also lucky to survive two April combat tours in the skies of the Western front in both 1917 and 1918.

 April 1917 was made infamous by the Red Baron and his Flying Circus which created such devastation in the skies : it was called BLOODY APRIL.  Allied pilots had a life span of less than 3 weeks but fought on bravely, including Duke!

April 21, 1918 was also made famous when the Red Baron was killed in aerial combat. The circumstances of his death still remain mysterious to this day. He landed his DR1 Fokker Triplane intact behind enemy lines with his dead hand having to be pried from the stick with a single gunshot wound to the chest. But who shot the fatal round???

 Duke was also in aerial combat in April 1918 flying his Sopwith Triplane!? Don’t miss this chapter!!

The mystery of WHO KILLED THE RED BARON was the topic of presentation at Sun ‘n Fun and will also be discussed at Oshkosh 2023. Mark your calendars for July 24-30 with authors corner book signing and presentation dates TBA.

Fly safe and enjoy the spring weather.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear readers,

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thanksgiving in 1915, Duke, our main character, celebrates by spending time with his family at their long-time homestead, hunting with his Peregrine Falcon. As described in Chapter 3, “hunting was a release and break” from his life of academics. He relaxes in the company of those he loves and explores the exciting future his studies may open up for him.

He will finally achieve his doctorate degree in Archeology in another year. Based on his research during archaeological digs in the Mediterranean Sea on the island of Crete, on this Thanksgiving Day, little did he know his find would lead to one of the greatest discoveries and would resolve a mystery over 2300 years in the making. Solving this ancient riddle involves such great leaders as Caesar, Cleopatra, Ptolemy and Alexander the Great.

We will talk more of these amazing leaders in future blogs.

Let’s celebrate this wonderful holiday and give thanks for our families and all our blessings.



Meet the Fokkers

Dear readers,

We continue discussing the adventures of Duke Thomas in SKY RAIDER as he enters combat in France in early 1917 with the Lafayette Escadrille in Chapter One.

The German Imperial Air Force had just finished its period of the “Fokker Scourge”, the time when the Germans were winning the war in the air, and was about to begin “Bloody April” which lasted until May of 1917.

Part of the reason for the German success was related to the ability to fire straight through the propeller, due to an innovative synchronization gear developed by aircraft designer Anthony Fokker. This led to the first confirmed aerial victory by Lt. Kurt Wintgens, flying an Eindecker Fokker monoplane in July 1915. He was firing a SPANDAU Machine gun through the propellor, thanks to Fokker’s gear design, and would go on to become an ace and a recipient of the Iron Cross and Blue Max prior to his death.

When Bloody April began, the Germans not only had an excellent Albatros D1 but also greater fire power with TWIN SPANDAU machine guns, which were belt fed as opposed to single non-synchronized drum fed Lewis gun, commonly used in the Allied Air Force at that time. The drum on the Lewis had to be replaced by the pilot in combat when ammo ran out, whereas the SPANDAU could fire continuously.

Somehow Duke survives the odds,

and as the war progressed, the better design and greater fire power of Germany was matched by the allies, but not without major losses.

Enjoy the adventure.


SPANDAU machine gun

Veterans Day 11/11 @11am

Dear fellow readers and veterans,

As we celebrate and honor our veterans on Friday, November 11, we especially recognize the service and sacrifice of those who serve and served in combat in foreign countries, which our main character Duke Thomas does in the skies of Western Europe and Egypt.
His duties as a Nieuport 28 and Sopwith triplane fighter pilot against the Red Baron’s talented flying circus place him in mortal combat on a daily basis during one of the most lethal times on the Western Aerial Front, called bloody April.

When and if Duke survives the GREAT WAR , he will be among the first to celebrate The Armistice, which was later memorialized into a federal holiday and renamed Veterans Day in 1954 by President Eisenhower.

This important armistice occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Allies and Germany ceased hostilities.

It is also celebrated in France, Australia, Canada, Great Britain (who also wear red poppies based on the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCraw). In Europe, Great Britain, and other Commonwealth countries, two minutes of silence is commonly observed at 11am on November 11th to honor these veterans.

In America, at Arlington National Cemetery, a wreath is placed on the tomb of the unknown soldier on this date who was laid to rest on November 11th 1921. Other parades and celebrations take place throughout the rest of the country.

In honor of our veterans, I am offering a special at on Veterans Day 11/11/22, a discounted Sky Raider paperback price of $11.11 signed with a personalized inscription by me, the author.

Enjoy the adventure and celebrate our veterans service and sacrifices on this momentous day.


Schooner Harvey Gamage, Key West FL ~ Photo by Kim Stamps

Sitting Bull

Dear readers,

Todays blog discusses the collective American squadron N 124 insignia placed on all the aircraft: an Indian head.
Initially it was described as a Seminole Indian head that was adapted from the head printed on the Savage Arms Manufacturing Company and was used until ~February 1917 when a new emblem was adopted.

The new emblem was designed by Pilot Sergeant Harold Willis, a decorated fellow Escadrille pilot who was the first squadron member to survive being shot down and later escaped captivity. It was now a Sioux Indian head thought to represent the famous Chief Sitting Bull and is represented by a sketch drawn by B Delles  on page 3 of Chapter One in Sky Raider.
Sitting Bull, a Hunkpapa Lakota leader, was Chief of the confederated Lakota tribes which included the Northern Cheyenne that defeated General Custer and the 7th Calvary at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. He refused to surrender and led his band to Canadian/British  territory in 1877. He finally returned to the US and surrendered in 1881. Prior to his death in 1890 by agency police at the age of 59, he was in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.

Each aircraft also usually carried a personal mark or emblem of the pilot in command, such as their initials or favorite drawing. 

Enjoy the adventure!


Illustration of Chief Sitting Bull and WWI aircraft by Brandon Delles
Chief Sitting Bull

Lafayette Escadrille

Dear current and future readers,

I wanted to discuss the Lafayette Escadrille that is referenced on page two, in the first paragraph of Chapter one. This  was a unit of American volunteer fighter pilots which our main character Duke Thomas joined in January 1917. He left all that was important to him, including his wife, to follow his duty and fight for the French. This unit included many Ivy league college graduates and students who wanted to serve against the tyranny of Imperial Germany.
The Lafayette Escadrille was America’s first aviation volunteer organization that operated in support of the “war to end all wars”. Unfortunately, about a third of its force was either killed, missing in action, or taken as prisoners of war. This outstanding group of volunteer aviators wound up with 11 flying aces. It was absorbed into the US Army Air Service 103rd Aero Squadron on 18 February 1918.
Duke gained valuable experience in combat and was lucky enough to survive longer than many of the other 224 Americans that served in this distinguished unit.
Next week we will talk about the symbol placed on the Escadrille’s aircraft – SITTING BULL!
Enjoy the adventure!

Illustration of Chief Sitting Bull and WWI aircraft by Brandon Delles
Picture of the illustration of Chief Sitting Bull from Chapter 1 in Sky Raider by Thomas Upson.
Illustration by Brandon Delles

Why Savannah?

Dear Current & Future Readers,

Continuing in Chapter 1, this blog post reveals why Savannah plays an important role in our main character Duke Thomas’s life!
Savannah was the founding city and capital of the 13th and last British colony in North America. Duke’s great great … grandfather was the captain of the good ship Anne, which brought the settlers to the colony. He was granted land on which he started a plantation to support his family.
Duke’s forefathers felt a deep connection to the land and to America, and fought to obtain independence with honor in the American Revolution. They later fought for their state with honor and with much sacrifice in the War of Northern Aggression, commonly known as the Civil War.
Duke grew up with the same traditions that General Robert E. Lee memorialized in his famous quote: “Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never hope to do more, you should never wish to do less.”
This is why he volunteers to risk his life in Europe against the tyranny of Imperial Germany. He felt it was his duty to leave his home in Savannah and offer his skills as a trained pilot, volunteering in the Lafayette Escadrille to protect the French people in WWI.

Enjoy the Adventure!

Author Thomas Upson and a cannon from the American Revolution in Savannah, GA

Lucky Duke Thomas

Dear Current and Future Readers,

This is the weekly blog where I discuss key parts of the novel and characters.

Today I wanted to highlight one of the important qualities that help our main character, Duke, survive tremendous odds against him during the Sky Raider adventure, and it is mentioned in the first paragraph of Chapter 1.

Lt. Duke Thomas smiled. He was glad to be alive after another aerial battle. It was April 1917…

Sky Raider

Duke was LUCKY to be around to smile, as the British aviators (RFC) called this particular month Bloody April for a good reason. They had been tasked to support the Battle of Arras during which they suffered heavy casualties to the German Jastas in a ratio of about 4 to 1!

The British had inferior flight training that was shortened to keep squadrons staffed due to the heavy casualties. At this time, the single-gunned Allied fighters, especially the pusher style DH2s, and the Nieuports which Duke flew, were already obsolete for the most part. There were, however, some successful allied fighters such as the Sopwith Triplane and the Spad VII Biplane.

Unfortunately they were up against the mass produced Albatros D1 and D2 Biplanes, which were twin gunned, and although inferior in number, stayed over their lines. They were well led by excellent fighter pilots such as Manfred Von Richthofen, the “Red Baron”, already a high scoring ace. He had formed specialized fighter groups called Jastas that could mass, or “circus”, where needed on their side of the lines and obtain air superiority with devastating affects on the Allied aircraft. New Allied pilots often lasted only a couple flights, and the average life expectancy for a new pilot at this time was only 11 days.

This is the first time we see one of the most important qualities in Duke: LUCK, which will become increasingly important as he faces greater odds and threats against him while the adventure progresses.

Enjoy the Adventure!

Sky Raider update

We have fresh signed copies of Sky Raider ready to ship! We’re also starting a fun Twitter project today!! Check us out at and follow to get your daily dose of Sky Raider. When you’re ready to order your copy of the book, order one through this site here. Or you can go to Amazon for paperback (sorry, this one won’t be signed) or the Kindle version. If you’re a bookseller, find us on Ingram! Hope you enjoy the adventure!!