Author's note: All birthdates taken from Chris Bentley's 'Complete book of Thunderbirds'

Standard disclaimer: I acknowledge Carlton plc as the owners of the 'Thunderbirds' characters, and I thank Gerry Anderson and his team for creating them and giving us so much pleasure.

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Well, the plane is just starting to taxi down the runway for take-off, so I'm definitely on my way home now. I only realised the first night I was here that this is the first time I've been away from both Jeff and the boys at the same time since Scott was born. I've had a lovely weekend, but I'm looking forward to seeing my sons again - and Jeff. Listen to me - you'd think I was a teenager or a newlywed, not someone who's been married 14 years. But I swear I'm as much in love with Jeff now as I was when we were first married - even now, when he touches me, it still makes my skin tingle. And as I tell my friends, he's handsome, famous and rich - what more could a girl possibly want? He's a good father, too, and we are both so proud of all our boys.

Scott, as the eldest, is the apple of his father's eye. He was born six months after Jeff returned from the moon (Jeff hadn't wanted to start a family until after the lunar expedition, but I'm afraid I jumped the gun a bit there!). He was quite a demanding baby - I'd always said I wanted children, but never realised quite how much hard work they could be. He seems to have inherited his father's looks - I imagine he'll be breaking girls' hearts in a few years time. He's very athletic and always has to be the one to push the boundaries - climb the tallest tree, jump off the highest wall, ride his bike faster than anyone else. I've had his friends' parents round more than once, complaining of the risks their children have taken to keep up with him, but as I tell them, he doesn't make anyone else do it! He is definitely the leader of the pack - but though quite a daredevil himself he always seems to keep a protective eye on his younger brothers..

When John was born he was totally different - such a quiet child. Those were difficult times. Jeff had just resigned for NASA and returned to Kansas, where he had bought out an ailing aviation parts business in Wichita and was trying to turn it around to make a profit. We were determined though that Scott would not feel put out by the arrival of a new baby (as older siblings sometimes do) so that was when Jeff started to spend time with Scott - which is probably why they are still so close. John always seemed to prefer his own company - he learnt to read at an early age, and once he had mastered the skill you rarely saw him without a book in his hand. And some of the questions he came out with had me racking my brains for an answer. Scott's questions had always been of a practical nature - 'How does an aircraft stay in the sky?'(that's one for you, Jeff!) but with John it was 'What makes clouds white?' or 'Why is water wet?' - you can tell there is definitely a brain at work under that blond thatch. He seems to have inherited his father's love for space - they can spend hours together out in the garden in the evenings looking at the moon or the stars through the telescope Jeff gave him for his 8th birthday.

Now we come to Virgil: my little 'accident' - in more ways than one. After John was born, Jeff had seen how tired I was, coping with two small children, so at Christmas he told me that my present was to be a trip to Paris to celebrate New Year and his birthday, while his mother looked after the boys. Well, I loved Paris, and celebrate we did, in the best way possible. Only one problem - in the rush to get away I had forgotten to pack one small but very vital piece of luggage. Oh well, I thought, I can't possibly get pregnant again so soon, so I didn't say anything to Jeff. Whoops! wrong again, girl. Jeff was really worried this time - he thought it was much too soon after John, but I assured him I felt fine, and could cope. Then in mid August I was coming downstairs with a bundle of dirty laundry and slipped and fell the last few steps. When I tried to get up I knew something was wrong. Somehow - don't ask me how - I managed to get to the phone and call 911, then Jeff and my mother. Mom and the ambulance arrived at about the same time; she stayed to look after the boys while I was whisked off to hospital. Jeff arrived just in time to see his latest offspring being placed in an incubator. It was touch and go for the first few days. We both sat by that machine, watching the tiny little figure inside as he fought for his life. It was a week before he was off the danger list, and another month before we were allowed to bring him home. I'll always remember how Scott (now 2 ½) came up and peered in the crib, looking with fascination at the tiny form. I said 'You can touch your little brother if you want' and he reached out a finger and stroked Virgil's arm gently. Virgil's eyes flew open at the touch, and as blue eyes locked on brown I swear the bond between them was forged at that moment. They seem to have a link much closer than most brothers. Virgil hero- worships his big brother, following him around and trying to do whatever Scott does, while Scott encourages him, but at the same time prevents him from taking any great risks.

I don't know whether it has anything to do with his shaky start in life or not, but Virgil always seems to be the most serious of my brood. He also seems to be the artistic one. Back when I was teaching music, I would occasionally get a pupil who I could tell was going to be exceptional - that's the bonus of teaching when you come across real skill. I'm teaching them all to play the piano, of course, and John took up the violin last year, but Virgil seems to have real talent. I was so pleased when he passed his first piano exam earlier this year, but I'm determined not to push him - just let him go at his own pace.

After Virgil we were told to wait a year before having any more children - not easy when you're married to a man like Jeff! Well - we nearly lasted; Gordon arriving eighteen months later. He was such a happy child, full of laughter. John was as intrigued with this new arrival as Scott had been with Virgil at the same age. He spent a lot of time talking to his new brother or showing him pictures from his books. As Gordon grew he helped him take his first steps, and soon after, to swim. It always amuses me when other mothers talk about their sons' abhorrence of water - once Gordon had discovered swimming the problem was to keep him out of it! Finally, when he had dragged Jeff away from his desk once too often to supervise a swimming session (house rules meant that no-one was allowed in the pool unless an adult was present) Jeff engaged an au pair girl, and so Terri came into our lives and stayed until Alan started school - much to my relief. With five boys (by then) I was beginning to wonder what I was going to do when Alan started running around as well. Despite what my children might think I do not have eyes in the back of my head! Sometimes I wish I had - I am beginning to get the feeling that both Gordon and Alan have inherited my mischievous streak - put them together for more than five minutes and mayhem just seems to happen.

Yes, Alan may look like a little angel when he's sitting on the piano stool beside me watching me play (he's going to be another heart-breaker in ten years time!) but he can be a little devil at times - he's certainly got a temper on him. Maybe it's because he's the youngest that he got a bit more indulged than the others. After five boys I told Jeff I was calling a halt - it didn't seem likely that we were ever going to get the daughter we had hoped for, so I thought we should stop at the string quintet before we ended up with an entire orchestra!

I am glad my mother at least had the chance to see all her grandsons before she passed away three years ago. I just feel sorry that the younger ones won't remember her - even the older boys will only have hazy recollections. At least they all knew Jeff's parents and loved to visit them on the farm. We don't go there so often now since Jeff's father died last year. Jeff never did get on very well with his older brother - I suppose eight years is too big an age gap (one reason Jeff wanted to have all his children close together). There's also a large dose of Tracy stubbornness on both sides. Jeff tells me Franklin was always a bit contemptuous of his 'fly- boy' ambitions, and probably now resents even more been known as the brother of the famous astronaut and self-made millionaire. Still, his mother is more than happy to come here for visits, and her arrival is always a great event in the household.

We didn't ask Grandma Tracy to come for this weekend, as she was just getting over a chest infection, and Jeff assured me that he was capable of looking after everything on his own. Well, we'll see what state the kitchen is in when I get back. It's not really fair of me to arrive home twelve hours early, but I suddenly decided I didn't want to spend another day away from my family. I've had a fantastic weekend - it was lovely to see Maddie again and meet her new husband, and Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, but when I found out that I could get a night flight with another airline I jumped at the chance. Jeff doesn't like me flying with other companies - I tease him for being a skinflint but he says their safety standards are not always as high as his - he's built a reputation on safe, reliable transport. Still, I'm sure he'll forgive me just this once.

Well, the cabin lights are being turned down now, so I'll try to get some sleep. When I wake up I'll be nearly home.

I wonder if they've been missing me?

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Newsflash: "Reports are just coming in that wreckage of a plane has been sighted in a remote region of the Andes. This is thought to be from Flight FL127 from Buenos Aires that went missing in the early hours of yesterday morning. Rescue crews are on their way to the scene, but it is not yet known whether there are any survivors."

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