‘When Dreams Took Flight: Memoirs of a Southport Fish Spotter’
By Donald Burris Sellers
Review by Alan M. Beasley
Get ready to for an escape you won’t be able to put down.
This is a review about my great friend Donald Seller’s recently completed book that is now available, “When Dreams Took Flight”, memoirs of a Southport Fish Spotter.
This book is such an interesting read especially if you are interested in the way it used to be in Southport, North Carolina. The book begins telling the story of his parents working in the Brunswick Navigation Menhaden Processing Plant as cooks. Many of the locals remember the Menhaden Plant that was located at the end of Fish Factory Road simply because of the smell that was prevalent all around the area as the fish were being cooked for processing. Donald was a young boy hanging around the factory while his parents were working and having the time of his life, in what he described as “an enormous playground filled with adult toys”. Everyone there loved Donald and he loved being there. There was one person that had the full attention of Donald however and eventually became the influence that set the path for his career. It was one of the spotter plane pilots, Hall Waters. Hall was like a super hero to Donald and eventually put the bug into Donald to fly airplanes. Donald was totally fascinated with Hall right down to the way he dressed. This influence sets the stage for what would become a very exciting life as a pilot for Donald. His book takes you through all the phases of his life as he was “growing up dreaming” and straight to the “dream come true” as Donald became a US Army helicopter pilot. As a result of his desire to fly and great skill at, it he finds himself doing a tour of duty in the Vietnam War as a pilot. He tells some amazing stories that will keep you fully engaged and ready for the next page. That chapter he appropriately calls “The Bad Dream”.
The last two chapters of the book bring you back home to Southport as he tells of his dream come true career as a fish spotter pilot for Standard Products Inc. a Menhaden Fishing Company out of Virginia. His dream of flying alongside his hero Hall Waters as a fish spotter was about to become a reality. He tells wonderful stories of flying his plane all around the area and having the time of his life doing what he always wanted to do, fly Airplanes. Donald told me in an interview that he “never worked a day in his life” because it was his love and passion to fly so it was never like a job to him. He was living his dream and felt very blessed to do so. However as the Menhaden Fishing began to experience pressure from politics and an overall declining fishing industry, its demise came swift and this resulted in yet another change in Donald’s life as a pilot. He was, and still is, a very determined man and was not about to let go of the controls just yet.
The final chapter has stories of the ”grand finale’” of his flying career as a commercial airlines pilot. Flying for Eastern, Piedmont, and US Airways. He would go on to have another 21 years of continued flying and loving every minute of it! It was something he never dreamed of but was certainly “par for the course” for such a great pilot and someone who loved flying as much as Donald did. The thing to remember here is it wasn’t always easy but Donald kept his “eye on the prize” and never gave up on achieving his goals.
This book is such an inspiration to me especially since I became friends with Don. Knowing him as well as I do now and reading this book about his life has in many ways made him my Hero. He is a wonderful person and this book is fun to read. I’ve heard reports that once people start reading it they can’t stop. One such story came in a few weeks ago from a friend that said they wish they had not started reading that book when they did. They started at 11PM and read all night long without a wink of sleep. This book is just that interesting and I almost had the same experience when I started it.
Donald never meant to sell the book as he explained to me. It was meant for his family and a few close friends. However word got out and people started asking to purchase a copy. Being the nice guy he is, Donald said yes and has had to order several hundred copies at this point and suddenly can’t seem to keep them on hand. The books are “flying off the shelf”! No pun intended!
I’m excited to see just how big this book gets for Donald. He is extremely happy with the success it’s having. When I asked if he would consider writing another book his answer was, “ I don’t know, I haven’t thought about writing another book but I have enough memories and stories to do so, so I just might.