presented on the
Published on the
with the gracious
WAS GLENN FIELD?
the launch of the first issue, I was contacted by England's Nigel Preece
(who bought the very first copy!), with some fascinating information about
real-life "Glenn Fields." Nigel said: "I noticed in the
editorial for the book that you were debating where to place Glenfield.
Well, get this, my Father... was stationed in a small village in
Leicestershire during the 2nd world war which doubled as a storage area
for army vehicles. It was, and still is today, called Glen Field.
will make for a superb launch site in about 2028 for the Zero-X, and may
even make a good site for the HQ of the S.S.E.C., as well as be close
enough for Penny to get there in time to go to the press conference and
attend the launch. The north sea is not too far away, so there will be a
suitable jetty for FAB1 to shoot off and into the sea to shoot down the
if you prefer, I have it on good authority that there is a Glenfield in
North Dakota, not to mention one in your own part of the world, just a few
miles south west of Bankstown, New South Wales, or the Glenfield just
north of Auckland in NZ. If anything the NZ one is the best because of the
proximity of the water."
had no idea! I checked some maps (thanks for the files, Nigel!) and indeed
located the Australian and New Zealand Glenfields.
latter is a suburb of North Shore City, Auckland, and there is a small
airfield just west of the city, on another peninsula. But going by the
scale of the map and the kind of runway Zero-X would require, "Glenn
Field" would stretch from somewhere in Waitemata Harbour right across
the peninsula into Rangitoto Channel...! The Australian Glen- field lies
14km south-west of Bankstown, a suburb of Sydney, and is just outside the
city in hill country. The Zero-X runway would stretch halfway from Sydney
Airport to Bankstown Aerodrome!
North Dakota location is out because of proximity to the sea and the
apparently lush environment of the film (green trees by the roads, green
hills and countryside backing the spaceport). England? It's tempting, but
all those America accents give the game away. Besides, the UK couldn't
muster the funding or interest to put up a capsule, never mind the kind of
investment even an international part-share in Zero-X would cost...
Fennell named a location in the Zero-X comic strip, and not
surprisingly he placed it in Florida, as the natural descendant of the
modern day space program. The sunshine and lushness match up, the accents
are appropriate, and though there are no ranges of hills such as we see
backing the launch on the "rolling sky," nor coastal hills and
cliffs such as the chase with The Hood was staged against, it's a fair
for flare, Jack Heston placed Glenn Field in Texas, another traditional
home of the US space program, which similarly matched the warm weather,
proximity to the sea, and generally interesting terrain. Spaceports are
usually close to the sea so ships can launch over essentially unpopulated
parts of the world, a safety measure. Most spaceports are on the east
coast of continents, and ships launch to the east so as to take advantage
of the inherent rotational kick of the turning planet. The closer the
equator, the bigger the available free acceleration.
the naming of the spaceport, Gerry was probably naming it in tribute to
John Glenn, the first American in space, but there is an extra tribute
that could be involved, if we wanted to see it this way; Glenn Curtis was
the founder of one of America's oldest aviation companies, around 1910,
and products from the firm he created are still around today, long after
the absorption of the company in the great cycles of corporate take-over
that have so remodelled the face of aerospace. Who knows, "New World
Aircraft" could be a descendant of all the present-day combines. And
in the fictionalised closing credits of Thunderbirds Are Go!,
"Jim Glenn, President of New World Aircraft and designer of
Zero-X" is cited, so there's another angle!