A Frederick author hopes a children's book series based on the adventures of her "co-pilot" dog will take off.
Victoria Zajko and co-author Kelly Kennedy have written a story based on Zajko's pet, Turbo the Flying Dog, set to come out in December.
Turbo has accompanied Zajko on flights as far north as Ottawa, Ontario, and as far south as the Bahamas. Zajko estimated Turbo has more than 50 flight hours logged. He even flew home from the West Virginia rescue where Zajko adopted him.
"It just seemed perfect. We called him from the get-go ... Turbo the Flying Dog," Zajko said. "It just fit to do a series."
The idea to create a character based on Turbo came from the positive response to a Facebook page Zajko created for him where she posts photos and comments for Turbo.
Zajko and Kennedy had been interested in writing children's books, and Turbo seemed like the perfect star.
"Everyone loves him," Zajko said. "Everyone thinks it's so funny when they see him pop out of the plane in his muffs."
Turbo has a special pair of dog-sized ear muffs to protect his hearing in flight.
The first installment of the series, based on the real-life experience of flying Turbo to Frederick from the rescue, is about Turbo getting over his fear of flight.
The real Turbo took to flying right away and slept peacefully during his first flight, but the character Turbo was a little more hesitant.
One of the aims of the book, Zajko said, is to get young people more comfortable with flying and to promote aviation. The series will also explore themes such as rescuing animals and being supportive of one another.
"We believe very strongly in rescue and want to encourage people looking for new four-legged family members to consider going that route," Kennedy wrote in an email.
In the second book of the series, Turbo's friend Olive, based on Kennedy's dog, struggles to find acceptance as a female pilot, and Turbo offers her encouragement.
That aspect of the series is partly based on Zajko's experiences as a female pilot.
"You know you face criticism sometimes from the guys, and hopefully, the book will help girl pilots realize they belong here, too," she said.
This is Zajko's first book, although in her younger years, she wrote short stories for the children she baby-sat.
Kennedy has studied creative writing and has publishing experience. Zajko said the two made a good team with her own aviation expertise.
Writing a children's book was a bit more challenging than Zajko thought, but she enjoyed the experience.
"It's been so much fun," she said. "It's about an animal and topic that I really relate to."
The authors are funding the first book with a Kickstarter campaign, which can be accessed from their website. Donors will get what Zajko calls a "pawtographed" copy of the book. Copies will also be available on Amazon and direct from Turbo's website. They will also work to get the book in local bookstores.
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.
On the web
Follow Turbo the Flying Dog at www.turbotheflyingdog.com.
Click the image on the left side of the page with the funding tracker to support the project's Kickstarter campaign.