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Archive-name: Changes/abfh1f.txt


Archive-title: Anderson's Training

Keywords: trans

    Sherry found herself in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  The routine was

similicity itself:  She would fly as co-pilot for a DC-3 to

Madison, Janesville, Rockford, IL and into Midway, .  At each

point, part of the cargo would be loaded on so that when they

arrived in Chicago they normally had a full load.  The cargo (which

was in containers) would be transferred to a cargo jet and taken

to the national sorting center.  Christa Welles (the DC-3's

Captain) and Sherry would try to catch a few winks in the female

bunkroom until the outbound cargo was delivered.  Then they would

fly the DC-3 back to La Crosse.

    Sherry, who had grown up reading the stories of Ernest Gann,

was in high heaven.  Ok, so they were using VORs and loran, not

low-freqency ranges, but it didn't take much imagination on her

part to believe they were flying AM-21.  She could see why the old

airline pilots loved the DC-3; easy to fly, easy to land, and about

as forgiving a taildragger as was ever made. 

    Christa didn't see it that way, but she was a short-timer. 

In three weeks she would be going to United's new pilot school. 

In baseball terms, she had made it to "the show."  United had sent

her some advance course material and she was spending every bit of

free time studying it.

    Sherry's other studies weren't neglected.  She had a

subscription to two weekly newsmagazines in Portugese and Spanish. 

The school called her twice a week for progress reports and to

gently quiz her on current events.  The calls were made in one or

the other languages.  A case officer dropped by every three weeks;

again the discussions weren't in English.

    When Christa left, Sherry was promoted to the left seat of the

DC-3.  Another woman took over the co-pilot slot.  Sherry flew as

a DC-3 captain for six months.  It seemed to her as if things were

going very slowly, but there was a reason to it.  The program that

was training her incurred no major costs while Sherry was flying

the cargo planes.  While her military pay was continuing, the money

for that came from the Navy.  As far as they were concerned, Sherry

was an asset that was in safe-keeping.  Sherry was living on her

flying pay.  Her military pay kept accumulating in a combination

money market and mutual fund account.

    Doris called her one morning and told her to stop taking the

hormones, that there would be more surgery in three weeks.  Sherry

asked what surgery, but Doris wouldn't tell her.  Sherry sighed at

all the "need to know" bullshit, but that's the way they did


    Right on time, Doris showed up three weeks later at the La

Crosse airport as Sherry came back from a cargo run.  There was a

new pilot for the -3, Doris led Sherry to a Gulfstream III that had

its cabin windows covered over.

"Where are we going," Sherry asked.

    Doris led the way onto the jet and closed the door.  She

knocked on the cockpit door (also shut) and then sat down.  Janet

was there, too.  "We are going for the final surgery," Doris said. 

She nodded to Janet.

    Janet pulled out a briefcase as the jet taxiied to the active

runway.  "We have a lot of material to go over, first.  Read these,

and sign at the bottom where the `x' is if you agree.  We'll


    Sherry started to read.  Most of it was legalese about the

risks of sexual reassignment surgery.  There was a lengthy consent

form and a very stark explaination that the surgery was not

reversible with any current or foreseen technique.  She barely

noticed the takeoff roll and climbout as she waded through the

forms.  There were a few she had to reread to make sure she

understood them.  But there was no question in her mind that this

was what she wanted.  Each time she signed a document, Doris and

Janet would countersign it and Doris would notarize it.

    Finally, she finished the last form.  She handed it to Janet,

who signed it.  Doris used the embossing stamp and signed it.  "Now

what," Sherry asked.

    "Any last minute qualms," inquired Janet.

    "About being operated on?  Yes.  About why?  No."

    "All right," Janet sighed.  "Just sit back and enjoy the ride. 

You'll find some books in the bin next to your right knee."  Janet

was relieved.  She had to ask Sherry that question out of

professional duty, but nobody wanted her to back out.  A likely

mission was on the planning table and there was no one better

qyalified than Sherry for it.

    Sherry found a Portugese version of Louis L'amour's "The

Sacketts."  It was easy reading.


    The jet landed and taxiied into a hangar.  Sherry wasn't

allowed to leave the airplane until the hangar doors were shut. 

The three women then got into a limosine with blackened windows

that was in the hangar.  Even the license plate was covered up. 

The limo went to a hospital; they got out in an empty parking

garage.  Two orderlies waited with a gurney.  They had Sherry lie

on it, then they strapped her in.  One orderly covered her to the

neck with a blanket, the other wrapped a bandage around her eyes.

    They wheeled her up to a private room.  As she expected, the

windows were opaque.  Doris showed her that the TV set worked,

although it only had generic cable stations on it, nothing that

would identify the city or state they were in.  Sherry unpacked and

settled in.

    What Sherry wanted to do now was sleep, but that was not to

be.  Two different doctors came by to do a physical examination,

followed by another doctor who identified himself as the

anesthesiologist.  All three wore surgical greens and masks,

presumably to minimize any chances of Sherry identifying them.

    The dinner was light, it was followed by one nurse who gave

Sherry an enema (which was no fun as Sherry wasn't into water

sports), and another who shaved her pubic area.  Finally a third

nurse came by, woke her up, and gave her a sleeping pill.

    An orderly woke her up early the next morning and gave her a

shot to make her drowsy.  "Great, just what I needed," Sherry

thought and she went to sleep again.  She thought she remembered

somebody talking to her in the OR, but she wasn't sure.

    The next thing she knew is that she woke up with a burning

sensation in her groin.  Sherry groped for the call button, a nurse

came in and gave her a shot.  She went back to sleep.

    Sherry was confined to bed for five days, although she felt

strong enough to get up after three.  One of the doctors told her

it was "because you're in great shape, young lady" and ordered her

to stay in bed anyway.  Sherry whiled away the time watching CNN

and HBO.  Doris and Janet visited every day, they brought her

copies of the NY Times.  That meant nothing, as Sherry knew the

paper was distributed nationally.

    When they let her out of bed, Sherry started to get some

exercise walking up and down the hall.  She was surprised to see

that most of the rooms were empty.  The others had closed doors,

they only let her go out when the other patients were out of sight.

    She was in the hospital for ten days.  The return trip was

made the same way, except this time the airplane was a Lear 31 and

the flight ended at the training base.  There Sherry recuperated

for a few weeks and did whatever she felt like.  To her joy, one

of the airplanes on the flight line was a Stearman; she arranged

for a checkout and flew the big biplane as much as she could. 

There was a T-28 on the line; Sherry checked out in it but didn't

fly it very much.  To her, it wasn't as much fun as the biplane.

    They ran her through a series of refresher courses-- language,

defense, and flying.  The emphasis in the flying was in terrain

folowing and rough-field operations.  Sherry was also given

extensive training in loran, omega, and GPS navigation systems. 

Loran was familiar, but they ran her through it anyway.  Omega sets

in aircraft were rare to start with and hardly anyone still used

them, but on the off-chance that one would be there, she had to

learn it.  GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) was the lastest

system, supposedly accurate to less than 50 meters in three


    After Sherry was checked by a team of doctors and judged to

have recovered, she went back to La Crosse and resumed flying the

DC-3 on the cargo runs.  Doris told her that "completely recovered"

didn't mean that all the scars had healed.  They wanted time for

the scars from the surgery to fade before making a final evaluation

of Sherry's fitness for a mission.

    Her co-pilot was an average-sized woman named Julia Waldowski. 

Julia and Sherry became pretty good friends, hard to avoid when one

spends five days a week flying together.  After verifying that

Julia knew what she was about, Sherry let her fly the alternate

legs of the runs.  There wasn't much to it.  If the weather was

good enough, they'd fly VFR to avoid the delays caused by the ATC


    Julia was a bit of an exercise nut.  While most of the other

pilots were trying to catch a little sleep between the inbound and

outbound legs, she would go for a run around the cargo area.  One

night she forgot to pack any deoderant, so she asked Sherry if

there was any in her bag (almost all the pilots had a small bag

with a change of clothing and toiletries in case they were

weathered in).  Sherry was asleep and mumbled something like "sure"

and went back to sleep.

    The return flight was in good weather; they cancelled IFR and

flew out of Midway VFR.  Sherry flew the leg and noticed that Julia

was being really quiet.

    "Did you hurt yourself running tonight," she asked.

    "No, it was a good five miles."

    "Then what's wrong?"  Sherry glanced over, although it wasn't

necessary to look with the headests and the intercom.

    Julia was silent for a minute, then said:  "When I borrowed

your deodorant, I found a dialator in your bag."

    That rang a few bells in Sherry's mind.  Most people would

have called it a `dildo,' but she called it a `dialator.'  "Okay. 


    "`So?'  We've been flying together for a few months now.  I

mean," Julia stopped, at a loss for words.  She reached for her

purse and took her wallet out.  She drew a photo from one of the

plastic pockets and handed it to Sherry.  She then put her hand on

the control wheel.  "I have the airplane."

    "Your airplane," Sherry replied.  She pulled a small

flashlight out and shielded the light, then she looked at the

photo.  The picture showed Julia standing next to a taller woman,

one who was almost half a foot taller.  She was pretty good

looking, though, and appeared to be about the same age as Julia. 

There was some slight resemblance between the two women, especially

in the way a slight smile was on their lips.  Sherry put away the

flashlight, handed the photo back, and said:  "I have the


    "Your airplane."

    "Who is she?"

    Julia was putting the photo back into her wallet.  "That's

Michelle, my big sister."

    In more ways than one, Sherry thought.  "How much older is


    "Depends on how you look at it.  She's either three years

older than I am or she's 23 years younger."

    Sherry did some quick figuring; she knew Julia was 25, so

Michelle was 28..uh, oh.  "Spell it out."

    "She was born as Michael.  She had a sexual reassignment

operation two years ago.  Most people wouldn't know it to look at

her.  But when she travels, she had a dialator in her suitcase; she

uses it to make sure her vagina stays open.  Her dialator looks

just like yours."

    Sherry made a note of that; she'd better replace the damn

thing with a regular dildo.  It'd be better to have someone assume

she was just weird.  "How do you feel about having a sister who's

a transsexual?"

    Julia made a noncommittal gesture in the dim red light of the

Doug's cockpit.  She looked out to the right, where the headlights

of the cars on I-90 were visible.  "Michael never fit in as a boy. 

I think I knew he wanted to be a girl a long time ago.  She's a big

woman, now, but she's very happy.  Michelle has a sort of inner

peace that most people don't.  I think it comes from knowing that

she has done what she needed to do.

    "I don't know, it's strange sometimes.  But when I'm around

her, I forget sometimes that she used to be a he.  My parents

aren't very happy, but they've realized that it was the best


    Sherry tuned the number 1 navcom to the Rockford tower

frequency, 118.3 mHz.  The tower was closed, so she listened to see

if anyone else was in the area.  Nobody was there, so she tried

calling Hartzog on their frequency to find which way the windsock

was pointing.  The lineman looked out the door and let her know.

She pulled back on the throttles lsightly and started a shallow

descent, then switched back to the tower frequency.

    Julia didn't let it drop.  "When did you have your surgery?"

    "You're making a pretty big assumption, aren't you?"

    "No, I don't think so.  Even for a tall woman, you have large

hands and feet.  Whoever worked on you did an excellent job;

there's no scarring from the tracheal shave.  I can see a few

pockmarks that probably came from electrolysis, but everyone else

is going to assume they're acne scars."

    Sherry sighed.  "A few months ago.  I came back from recovery

when we started flying together."

    "Does the line know?"  Julia was referring to the cargo


    "No.  How would they?  They don't do physicals, my paperwork

all says `female.'"

    "How did you get the time off?"

    "I put in for a leave of absence without pay."

    "Does the FAA know?  How did you get a medical?"

    Sherry smiled slightly.  She announced her position over the

radio, then answered Julia.  "There are ways.  The FAA knows all

about me.  It's not exactly an unknown thing for them to see. 

Karen Ulane did us a big favor."

    "I guess so.  That was too bad, though," Julia commented,

referring to the crash that killed Ulane.

    "Yeah.  Gear down."

    Julia pushed the lever down.  "Coming down...down and locked."

    "Tailwheel locked."

    "Tailwheel locked."

    Sherry pulled the throttles back.   "Flaps ten."

    "Flaps ten.  Mixture to full rich."

    "Full rich."  She pushed the prop controls forward, ensuring

they'd be set if she had to go-around.  Nobody else was in the

pattern, Sherry flew a tight approach with minimal power.  When she

knew she had the field made, she called for full flaps.  She landed

the DC-3 a little tail low, then let the tail settle.  One the tail

was down, Sherry moved the control column all the way back to hold

it.  She unlocked the tailwheel once they had slowed to taxi speed.

    Julia commented.  "Michelle'll be so thrilled to know."

    "Julia, don't tell her.  Please."

    Julia looked over.  "You're on of the ones who want to

disappear afterwards, then."

    "Yes.  Please don't tell anyone."

    "Okay, Sherry."

    They didn't talk much for the rest of the flight. 

    Julia did ask Sherry a couple days later if she wanted to get

together for dinner and some drinks on Saturday night.  Sherry

didn't have any plans, so she agreed.  "You have any ideas," she


    Julia shrugged.  "There's a decent Chinese place not too far

away from the field.  We can go there."

    "Sounds good.  What should we wear?"

    "I'm tired of wearing pants all the time," Julia declared. 

"I'm going to dress up a little."

    "Ok by me.  Where should we meet?"

    "We both live near the field, so let's meet in the line

parking lot at seven."

    "Sure.  See you then."

    They were both there at seven.  That may have been a little

surprising to a casual observer, but both women were pilots and

were used to showing up on time.  Julia was wearing a dark floral

print dress that was flowing and came to just below the knee.  The

dress apparently was made of rayon, tan hose, and black pumps with

3" heels.  Sherry had a black knee-length dress with a polo shirt

type of collar.  She also had on black pumps but with a little

lower heel.  They decided to take Sherry's Honda; that way  Julia

didn't have to clean off the passenger seat of her Tercel.

    There was a wait for the restuarant, but not much of one. 

They shared food, like most peole do when they're eating Chinese,

and giggled over the fortune cookies.  Sherry's said "You are about

to take a long journey."

    Julia knew a nice lounge not very far away.  Over a couple

drinks, the two women talked; mainly about flying.  Like most

pilots, they used their hands a lot.  The bartender listened in as

much as he could, he seemed fascinated by two women discussing

aviation in a way that only pilots could.  They did switch to diet

soda after the second drink; neither one wanted to risk a drunken-

driving beef.  (The FAA's been going after pilots who drink and


    The crowd had lessed out, it was getting late, so they left

the bar.  Two men followed them out, ambling behind them as their

heels clicked faster across the parking lot.  Sherry fished her

keys out and had them in her hand when the two men caught up to


    One of them grabbed Sherry by the right wrist from behind. 

"What's your hurry, little lady," he asked in a tone that chilled

Sherry to the core.

    The other one had grabbed Julia.  "We only want to party a

little.  Come with us, you won't get hurt and we'll show you a real

good time."  Both men laughed.

    Sherry exploded into motion.  She pivoted and drove her left

fist into the man's midsection with all the power she could muster. 

The breath whooshed out of his lungs, he let go of her wrist and

started to double over.  Sherry pulled back, then swung the edge

of her right fist into his nose, smashing it to a bloody ruin.  She

wasn't finished, but he was when she kicked his left kneecap out

of alighnment.  He fell to the pavement a bleeding groaning ruin.

    The goon holding Julia was frozen in shock as he gaped at his

devastated friend.  He came alert when he heard a metallic

clicking; he looked up and saw Sherry pointing a small black

automatic pistol at his head.  From her stance and her expression,

he knew he was very close to dying.

    "Let her go," Sherry commanded.  The man did so instantly. 

"Put your hands on top of your head.  You move without me telling

you to and you're a dead man.  Julia, get the phone from my car." 

Julia did.  "Dial this number-"  Sherry told her what number "-

come around on my left side and hand it to me."

    Julia did as she was told; she was almost as stunned as the

man who Sherry had the gun on.  Sherry took the phone and when it

was answered, explained the situation.  She was told to stay where

she was.  She handed the phone back to Julia, who took it and stood

there uncertainly.

    A police car with no lights drove up three minutes later.  It

stopped so that the headlights illuminated the scene.  The cop got

out and came over.  His pistol was drawn, but wasn't aimed at

anyone.  "You Anderson," he asked.


    "Ok."  He holstered the gun, grabbed the guy standing up and

tossed him against the Honda.  "Assume the position, asshole."  The

man did.  The cop frisked and cuffed him, then he marched him over

to the cruiser and threw him in the back seat.  Sherry put her

pistol away, the cop came back and frisked and cuffed the guy on

the ground with a heavy-duty cable tie.  Sherry helped him drag the

man to the cruiser and stuffed him in next to his buddy.  The cop

siad:  "We'll be in touch" to Sherry and drove away with the two

would-be rapists.

    Julia was still a little dazed.  Sherry walked her over to the

passenger's side of the car and helped her get in.  Sherry walked

back around and got in.  She looked over at Julia.  "Are you all


    "I've never seen anything like that.  It was so quick.  All

of a sudden he was on the ground and you had a gun."

    Sherry nodded, but didn't say anything.

    "Where did you learn do do that?"

    "I was taught.  Where and why, I can't tell you."

    "Were you in the service before-"

    "Yes."  Sherry let Julia draw her own conclusions, even though

she knew they'd be the wrong ones.

    "And the gun.  I grew up in Chicago.  The only guns I've ever

seen belonged to the cops.  Is it yours?"


    "Do you have a permit for it?"

    Sherry nodded.

    "Do you carry it wtih you all the time?"

    "I can't answer that.  I will say I carry it when I need to."

    Julia looked over at her.  "Why did you have it tonight?"

    "I needed to, evidently."

    Julia sighed.  "I think I want to go home."  Sherry drove her

back to the airport and parked next to Julia's car.  Julia got out

without saying a word; Sherry stayed there until Julia had started

to drive away.

    Sherry sighed.  She didn't know what would happen now, but

there wasn't much she could do about it.



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