Friday, June 26, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Orlando E. Panfile, Author

Orlando E. Panfile, Author
Orlando E. Panfile—author, aviation enthusiast, inventor, mayor, councilman, board director, teacher, and ham radio operator—just released an action/adventure story whose protagonist conceives and promotes a device to detect and report vehicular infractions—TACNETECH. The inventor, Richard Rogers, creates the device to reduce the number of deaths caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. As with so many inventions, however, detractors fear the new device, causing its inventor to proceed cautiously. Panfile tells us that such a device is not only feasible but is likely in the not-so-distant future.

The author is currently working on his next book, Red, Right, Return, a nautical book; co-operating with Southern Illinois University to develop an improved auto traffic signal called “PLAN TO STOP,” and restoring his father’s 1948 Packard (I can relate to that. My parents’ first car—that I remember—was a dark blue 1948 Packard that they inherited from my grandfather.) In his spare time, he likes to travel with his wife.

Don't miss the excerpt following his interview.

Q: The concept of a device to track vehicle infractions to prevent future ones—is intriguing. What inspired you to write about it? Was there an event in your life that caused you to think about a solution to DUIs and other types of dangerous driving? Is such a device feasible?

Orlando E. Panfile: Yes the event was the "accident" in which a man, his wife, and daughter were killed. Notice I have the word "accident" in quotes. Webster defines accident as "an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured." So if the person injured was driving drunk it wouldn't be an accident?

Is such a device feasible? Yes! In fact we are more than halfway there. For about the past five years all of the major auto manufacturers have been installing a device called an Event Data Recorder (EDR.) It collects, and stores, a lot of information. Whether the car is accelerating, how much brake pressure is being applied, whether seat belts are fastened, whether deployment systems are in the ready position, etc. It is only a short step to having the ability to sense signals from outside the vehicle, stop signs, curve signals, speed limits, etc.

Q: In what genre would you place TACNETECH? Is it science fiction? Action? Fantasy? Thriller? Adventure?

Orlando E. Panfile: I would classify this most closely as Action & Adventure, but with some technology and non-fiction mixed in. It is fiction, yet draws on many real-life events. The off-limits party in Korea was a real incident, but I added details drawn from my imagination. The nearly running out of fuel story was actual fact. The story of Nan's life and death is real, though that is not her real name. The idea of sabotaging a plane in the story is purely fictional.

Q: Why will readers care about your protagonist Richard Rogers? What characteristics will we relate to? Is he a hero? What makes us believe he can invent such a device and overcome resistance to get it to market?

Orlando E. Panfile: I think readers will care about Rogers because his motives and actions are beyond reproach. His errors, like almost running out of fuel on the trip to Nassau, are not the result of carelessness or neglect on his part, but because of things beyond his control. His actions are not for personal gain, but to help people. He brings key people to help someone whose business is on the verge of failure. He helps friends when their boat is in danger of sinking.

Q: Without divulging too much of your plot, what can you tell us about your “villains?” How realistic are they?

Orlando E. Panfile: The “villains” in TACNETECH are fictional. Unfortunately, their actions are seen frequently in real life. Falsifying records, kidnapping, corporate corruption: these are all situations that do occur. These actions are feasible, which makes the characters realistic to the reader. Especially readers who’ve seen the darker side of the business world.

Q: You have a varied background that includes experiences in corporate, political and military areas – and you are a pilot and aviation enthusiast. Reading a description of your book, I sense that you’ve pulled on all of these experiences to write TACNETECH. Were you able to draw on your own experiences to tell your story to enhance credibility?

Orlando E. Panfile: Absolutely! About 75% of my waking hours were spent acquiring, organizing, monitoring, and directing my aviation service locations. These were facilities that provided services to airplanes, primarily corporate jets. But we also served the airlines and personal airplanes, having very detailed knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of various types of aircraft, the distances and topography of airports used by private aviation.

Serving on the board of directors of several organizations, as a councilman, and mayor of our town also provided some insight as to how people think. I also taught Quality Control and Industrial Statistics at Rutgers University for seven years. My students were all mature men and women. The control charts, sampling tables that involved probability theory and some of that stuff can be a bit boring and tedious. I designed several calculators to help. There were control limit dividers, graphical solution to the Poisson distribution, and a truncation point computer. The last one was the most interesting. You could determine where to trim a distribution to shift the mean a predetermined amount and reduce the standard deviation…Are you asleep yet?

Q: Did you write TACNETECH just to entertain readers, or were you trying to teach readers and/or deliver a message?

Orlando E. Panfile: The answer is yes to both. TACNETECH is fiction, so it is meant to entertain. However, the need to continue making advances in accident prevention is very real. I would like readers to see the possibilities for increasing vehicle safety.

Q: How helpful was the use of humor in creating your characters or telling your story?

Orlando E. Panfile: The subject matter of TACNETECH is serious. Vehicular safety is no laughing matter. Many people have lost a loved one to an accident, or know of someone who has. So there’s not a lot of humor in the book.  But mixing in scenes where characters joke with each other or make wisecrack adds lighter moments to the heavier aspects of the plot.

Q: How do you create page-turning action scenes?

Orlando E. Panfile: I like creating scenes where something terrible could either happen or be avoided. This builds suspense. An airplane might crash, a boat might sink; a person might get shot. The uncertain outcome of these situations is what keeps readers turning the page.

Q: What’s next?

Orlando E. Panfile: A new book, nautical in nature. Red, Right, Return. Nautical rules of navigation require a vessel to keep to the right when entering a channel. These buoys are red or green and normally line the shores of channels going into a harbor. The story is still in development, but will be more of an admonition than an instruction….. I think! 

Q: Tell us about Orlando E.  Panfile. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Orlando E. Panfile:  I'm active in my amateur radio station (Call sign K2BZZ) and have been restoring my father's 1948 Packard. I've also designed an improved auto traffic signal called "PLAN TO STOP," which I'm discussing with Southern Illinois University.  Above all, I enjoy traveling and spending time with the love of my life, my wife, Barbara. This novel, TACNETECH, is dedicated to her.

About Orlando E. Panfile

Orlando E. Panfile draws on decades of experience in corporate, political, and military areas, and as a college professor and inventor.  An aviation enthusiast, he holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating and has 11,300 hours of flight time. His lifelong passions include entrepreneurship, teaching, acting, and maritime activities. A native of New Jersey, he lives in Illinois with his wife, Barbara. This is his first novel.

Richard Rogers is devastated to learn that a friend has been killed by a drunk driver, along with the friend’s wife and daughter. When Rogers realizes the driver had a longtime history of driving under the influence, he is certain the crash could have been avoided. He assembles and finances the Tacnetech, a device to detect and report vehicular infractions, with the goal of preventing similar future incidents. Knowing his project will be met with skepticism, he formulates a plan to introduce it in a structured, strategic, and incremental manner.
A sample testing validates the project, but not everyone agrees with the device’s concept. As contemptuous terms such as “big brother” and “snitch” are thrown around, suspicious events threaten to kill the program, and possibly Rogers himself. Torn between corporate pressure and his personal life, Rogers must navigate treacherous waters and perilous skies in order to see the project through to an uncertain end.


Hurtling down Runway Six at Teterboro Airport at over one hundred miles per hour, the speed of the Sabreliner was increasing every second. So were Rogers’ adrenaline and anxiety levels. “What the hell is going on?  Call V1 and V2 speeds and retract gear after V2,” he shouted into his microphone, even though he was only two feet away from his co-pilot, Rob Riley.
            A decision had to be made quickly. To continue accelerating with the airplane on the ground would result in crashing through the airport fence, crossing an extremely busy highway and, if they were lucky enough to make it across all four lanes, slamming into a building on the other side. They had to fly. If they didn’t, the one thousand gallons of jet fuel on board would incinerate everyone on board, plus anyone they came into contact with on the highway or in the buildings alongside the highway.
            When Rogers called for gear up, he knew Rob experienced a moment of sheer panic before he could react to the gear up command, as if he wanted to scream, “Let’s stay on the ground!” but couldn’t. Where they were going or how they were going to get back on the ground, he couldn’t guess. He couldn’t think; things were happening too fast. What he did know was that there were strict limitations on the maximum speed the airplane could fly before the wings tore off. There was no way the airplane could land with wide open throttles.
The tires on the Sabreliner lost their grip on the pavement as the airplane suddenly pointed up at an extreme angle, as though an invisible hand were pushing down hard on the runway. Previous liftoffs on the Sabreliner were the result of smooth, gradual power applications, but throttles stuck in the wide open position caused the airplane to generate asymmetrical forces. Although Rogers fought to overcome these with some success, the airplane still wandered back and forth across the runway.
            Above the engines screaming, the pressurization systems howling, the wing slats chattering, and the tires squealing, Rogers shouted, “Call the tower! Let them know we have a problem! Tell them we are turning west. We will orbit west of Wayne and attempt to find a solution.”
            In some ten thousand hours of flying, Rogers had encountered a wide variety of problems: landing gear that wouldn’t go down, engines that quit, doors that opened in flight, but never throttles that wouldn’t retard. It wasn’t easy to think with the airspeed indicator increasing its reading and Teterboro tower peppering them with questions.
Rogers shouted at Rob, “Get permission to leave the frequency. Tell them we’re pretty busy.” Although they were in controlled airspace, the tower couldn’t help their situation. “Tell them we will get back to them with our intentions.”
           With landing gear and flaps retracted, the airplane continued to build speed, threatening to exceed limitations and come apart in mid-air.  Rogers felt his blood pressure and pulse rate jump to new levels. He had to slow the airplane down. He didn’t follow procedure and ask for permission to go to a higher altitude, but pointed the nose up anyway. The tower, approach control, and the center had the ability to determine their altitude, and they weren’t the ones who had to fly the plane.
          He did.

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1 comment:

  1. Great interview :) Fascinating man, fascinating background!