Three years after beginning the writing process, Alexandria residents Bud and Fran Orr saw the official release of their book “Love at First Flight” in bookstores and online book offerings. A true story surrounding their courtship and marriage during the Vietnam War, “Love at First Flight” hit Amazon.com and the shelves of Barnes and Noble in January.
The book is not only the Orrs’ story, but it also encompasses Bud Orr’s experience as a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War.
“There is no fiction,” Bud Orr said. “The stories, Fran’s and my courtship, is all real. And, [the depiction of] Fran’s childhood on a migrant farm in California is all real.”
Fran Orr said they were able to fact check details about the war with her husband’s old log books. It was typical, Bud Orr said, for a pilot to note details of each mission in a log book.
“We would go back when we were writing to make sure that the timeline was right,” Fran Orr said.
The stories are both thrilling and romantic; the Orrs said they wanted the book to appeal to both male and female audiences.
Both Bud and Fran Orr contributed equally to “Love at First Sight.” They said they were each able to pour their strengths into the project.
“It was not primarily either of us,” Bud Orr said. “I wrote the flying stories, and Fran corroborated with our romance, her childhood. That made it a joint book by both of us. The flying stories were so real and so clear in my mind. Quality wise, she contributed a great deal to make it a much more interesting story for the general public.”
Fran Orr said this is partly because she had initially written a book exclusively about the romance, but an agent suggested that she broaden the story to expand the readership. At the same time, Bud Orr also aspired to write a book.
“Because we had such a unique story, we wanted the book to have as much appeal to women as it is to men,” Fran Orr said.
The Orrs said they were grateful that the publishing company, Astor and Blue Editions, picked up their story.
“We are very fortunate and proud that someone chose to represent us from our proposal,” Bud Orr said. “We found an agent and then they found us a publisher. We felt like some of the big people.”
Fran Orr added that both she and her husband have been touched by the responses to their story, especially from people who were a part of their story.
“This is a fabulous gift that we have been given,” she said. “My husband has had three major commands … and the soldiers [who had served] under him have contacted him to tell him how touched they were by the book.”
“Love at First Flight” has received the praises from such public figures as U.S Sen. John McCain and Lawrence Garrett III, former Secretary of State.
McCain was one of Bud Orr’s Navy flight instructors and both his and Garrett’s praise are printed in the back pages of the book.
Fran Orr, who has also had two childrens’ books published, said that if she has any words of advice for people, it is to write about the experiences that have molded them. These stories, she added, will influence following generations.
“I have always written stories,” she said. “I wanted stories that had American values and morals. I forced Bud to write a lot of his stories down. There are no stories of my father or uncles serving in World Wars, so I didn’t want that to happen to our family.”
The Orrs have appeared in local news spotlights, “Good Morning America,” and are scheduled for a number of appearances in May around the DC-Metropolitan area.
They said the CBS local channel will highlight them at noon on May 3. Also, as the Smithsonian has purchased their book, they will appear at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly on May 25.