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Alan Cockrell


I had two and one-half careers, maybe more depending on how you scrutinize it. I retired from the United States Air Force Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel and pilot. My second career was at United Airlines, finishing there as a Boeing 767 captain. While serving in the Air National Guard and USAF Reserve I used my geology degree from the University of Alabama to explore for oil and gas. (At 13 years, that would be the half career). At one brief, very busy point in my life, I was juggling all three at once. These experiences proved to be fertile grounds for writing and storytelling.

Inspired by the great aviation authors, Ernest Gann, Richard Bach, Antoine de Saint-Exupery and others of that tribe, I began writing in 1993 about my experience flying in the Persian Gulf War. That led to my first book, Tail of the Storm. Short pieces followed that garnered three awards. About that time, I became a newspaper writer doing local community interest pieces. Then came a string of magazine articles. In the late 90s I wrote a history of the oil and gas industry in the southern states, which resulted in Drilling Ahead: The Quest for Oil in the Deep South. I’m still tilling the literary soils.

I spend a lot of time dragging a travel trailer across America’s back roads with my lovely wife, Eleanor, of nearly 50 years, and current dog, Scout. My travels seem to be always centered on rocks. I still love geology. I fly recreationally, cruise the lake, work on my HO scale model railroad and spend time with our grandkids. Boredom does not know me.

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Featured Title


The Restless Earth

20th Century Historical Fiction

Inspired by actual events in the 1950s rural South.
The moneymen turned him away, laughing, sneering, saying his science was bad; saying he was too far away from oil, calling him a fool, a dupe, a hopeless loser. His peers, smelling the stench of failure, distanced themselves from him. His lenders – the few he had – fidgeted, fearing he was unlucky.
His bills and worries mounted. His drilling rig, “Lucky Lucy,” true to the antitheses of her name, broke down almost daily. His crew, tired of working for nothing, threatened to walk away.
Crafty, whispering voices, from figures waiting from the shadows, schemed to get at that which he sought, if he were lucky enough to find it. Eager, desperate faces of farmers, merchants and townspeople stood aside watching, waiting, praying his good luck would be theirs, as well.
Few believed him, and as his bit twisted its way into the Earth’s mysterious belly, one who did, a woman he wondered if he could trust, told him what he couldn’t seem to fathom – that his real discovery would likely not be at the bottom of his hole.


Cockrell weaves a rich tapestry of concepts and chronology around the characters, producing an engaging and eminently readable account of every major oil find in Mississippi, Alabama and northwest Florida.

– 5-Star amazon Customer Review

Drilling Ahead: The Quest For Oil in the Deep South, 1945-2005