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Timothy R. Gaffney (1951–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

review wright takes wee

Born 1951, in Dayton OH; Education: Ohio State University, B.A., 1974. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Presbyterian.

Addresses

Office—433 S. 5th St., Miamisburg, OH 45342-2940.

Career

Journalist and writer. Piqua Daily Call, Piqua, OH, reporter, 1974–78; Kettering-Oakwood Times, Kettering, OH, reporter, 1978–79; Dayton Daily News, reporter, beginning 1979, military affairs reporter, beginning 1985.

Member

Dayton Newspaper Guild (former member of executive board), Experimental Aircraft Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Women in Aviation International.

Honors Awards

AOPA Max Karant Award for aviation reporting, 1998.

Writings

NONFICTION

Jerrold Petrofsky: Biomedical Pioneer, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 1984.

Kennedy Space Center, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 1985.

Chuck Yeager: First Man to Fly Faster than Sound, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 1986.

Edmund Hillary: First to Climb Mt. Everest, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 1990.

(With Scott Montgomery) Back in Orbit: John Glenn's Return to Space, Longstreet Press, 1998.

Air Safety: Preventing Future Disasters, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 1999.

Secret Spy Satellites: America's Eyes in Space, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2000.

Air Show Pilots and Airplanes, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2001.

Amazing Agricultural Aircraft, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2001.

Hurricane Hunters, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2001.

Contributor to periodicals, including Boys' Life.

FICTION

Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon, illustrated by Barry Root, Tambourine, 1996.

Wee and the Wright Brothers, illustrated by Bernadette Pons, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

Author of blog Air City.

Sidelights

Timothy R. Gaffney is an Ohio-based journalist who has translated his long-time interest in space exploration and aircraft into a library of books geared for younger readers. His nonfiction books, which include Secret Spy Satellites: America's Eyes in Space, Hurricane Hunters, and Back in Orbit: John Glenn's Return to Space, as well as biographies of notable individuals such as test pilot Chuck Yeager, mountain-climber Sir Edward Hillary, and Dr. Jerrold Petrofsky, whose research into the electronic stimulation of human muscles resulted in a means by which those suffering from pa-ralysis could regain movement. Gaffney has also ventured into fiction with the picture books Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon and Wee and the Wright Brothers. Praising Hurricane Hunters for its "informative" discussion of the aircraft used by the government's Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, School Library Journal contributor Patricia Manning cited Gaffney's "careful research." Inspired by Gaffney's meeting with astronaut James Irwin, one of the first men to walk on the moon, Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon relates an imaginative bedtime story about a trip skyward that "makes a momentous and remote event engagingly accessible" to younger children, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

In Wee and the Wright Brothers Gaffney takes readers back to 1903 and introduces them to a tiny mouse living in the Wright brothers' bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. Wee publishes a local mouse newspaper and wants to cover the brothers' newfangled flying machine. A dedicated reporter, Wee stows away in the pocket of Orville Wright's jacket on just the right day and experiences the famous initial flight first hand. Wee and the Wright Brothers "makes a good introduction to the inventors for wee ones," commented Harriett Fargnoli in a School Library Journal review, while in Booklist Carolyn Phelan praised the book's "cheerful tone," as well as its "intrepid hero, and the ability to convey information without making it ponderous."

Gaffney once told SATA: "I have had a lifelong interest in writing. My interests in space and exploration were sparked by such books as Have Spacesuit—Will Travel by Robert Heinlein, everything by Arthur C. Clarke, the television show Sea Hunt, and The Silent World by Jacques Cousteau. I enjoy the sounds that words make and the pictures they can evoke in one's mind.

"My interest in aviation was probably inevitable. I was born in Dayton, the home of the Wright Brothers, who invented the airplane and established the principles of flight. My mother and father worked at old Wright Field in the 1930s and 1940s, the Air Force's center for aeronautical research and development. My parents encouraged reading and I feasted on books about dinosaurs (Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle), adventure (The Silent World, by Cousteau, Kon Tiki, by [Thor] Heyerdahl), and space (the 'Tom Swift' series, as well as all books by Heinlein and Clarke).

"I was good at writing but bad at math, so instead of becoming a scientist I became a newspaper reporter, which allowed me to write and draw a weekly paycheck. In 1985 I became the military affairs reporter for the Dayton Daily News; as a result, I have interviewed many aviation pioneers and astronauts. I have had unusual opportunities to fly in blimps, biplanes, bombers and fighters." Gaffney, a private pilot, recalled one particular opportunity with pride: "At the Dayton Air Show in 1990, officials of the Soviet Union's Mikoyan design bureau granted my request to fly in one of the Soviet Union's most advanced fighters, the MiG-29." This experience made Gaffney the first newspaper reporter to fly in such an advanced Soviet jet.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Wee and the Wright Brothers, p. 131.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1996, review of Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon, p. 58.

Instructor, October, 1996, review of Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon, p. 68.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Wee and the Wright Brothers, p. 805.

New York Times Book Review, January 5, 1997, review of Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, July 22, 1996, review of Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon, p. 241.

Reading Teacher, March, 1998, review of Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon, p. 504.

School Library Journal, September, 1996, Kathy East, review of Grandpa Takes Me to the Moon, p. 178; February, 2000, William C. Schadt, review of Air Safety: Preventing Future Disasters, p. 131; February, 2002, Patricia Manning, review of Hurricane Hunters, p. 144; December, 2004, Harriett Fargnoli, review of Wee and the Wright Brothers, p. 108.

ONLINE

Writers.net, http://www.writers.net/writers/ (April 11, 2006), "Timothy Gaffney."

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