James Bell glided along in his vintage biplane enjoying the tremendous feeling of freedom as the ground passed below, oblivious to his presence. The force of air rushing through his hair was both exhilarating and thrilling.
He opened the throttle a little more and marveled at the raw power of the engine as it began its powerful crescendo. The small plane sped forward as though being catapulted toward the clouds and James could feel his blood coursing through his body as his heart pumped with pure excitement. He closed his eyes and let his spirit soar with the engine’s roar.
Pulsing with the steady thrumming of the motor, James was in his own state of euphoria. His rapture was suddenly interrupted by a split second sputter and then another. He yanked the throttle back but it was too late; the motor came to an abrupt halt. He hit the starter and worked the choke to no avail. He repeated his actions over and over again, increasingly aware that he was beginning to descend.
James ran through a list of actions he was taught to follow in the aviator school and tried each one being extra careful not to miss a step. The motor never made an attempt to start so James went through the next steps, reminding himself to remain calm. Accepting the fact he would have to make an emergency landing, James peered over the side and looked for a safe place to land.
In the short distance, he spotted a field that appeared to be large enough for him to set the plane down. All he had to do was maintain enough altitude to make it there. Judging by his rate of descent, James knew it was going to be very close. The ground sped past in what seemed like lightning speed and he held his breath and felt his entire body tense as he streamed past a stand of trees. At one point, he swore the top of a pine tree brushed the under carriage. He was afraid to look back in fear that he’d see the tail hung up in the branches.
Once cleared, he worked the rudder as he’d been taught and felt the plane level and drop in speed as he raised the nose. The wheels hit the ground with force and the small craft bounced up and came down and bounced again, veering to the left. James had no control over the plane’s direction and did all he could to get it down. After much fighting with the yoke, he managed to settle it down where it rolled another 30 yards before the wheel caught a rut and the nose smacked into the ground. James hit his head and remained still for a few minutes.
When he did move, it was very slow and deliberate. He took a long slow breath and breathed out, thankful to be alive. He let another couple minutes pass and then unhooked the harness and climbed from the plane. Moving his legs and arms left no doubt that he was bruised and that he would be in worse pain come the following days.
Assured there were no broken bones; he made an inspection of the plane. It was definitely damaged but he believed the cost for repairs wouldn’t be too bad. Or at least he hoped so. Getting the plane out of the field, however, posed a whole new problem because the field, as James perused it, was enclosed by trees. The plane was, in a sense, landlocked.
While searching for a way to rescue the plane from its resting place, James noticed a small cabin set off in the far right corner of the field. It was barely noticeable, nestled back in amongst the pines. His spirits lifted, he set off for the house.
Upon reaching the cabin, James noticed the door slightly ajar and cautiously approached.
“Hello,” he hollered to announce his presence. “Anyone in there?” he called out while moving a little closer. “My plane’s engine died on me and I had to make an emergency landing in your field.”
Getting no response, he proceeded to the door and pushed it open, hoping beyond hope someone wasn’t sitting there ready to blow his head off; or worse, lying dead in bed or something. He breathed a sigh of relief when nothing happened.
“Hello,” he called again to be certain he didn’t surprise or shock someone by his sudden appearance.
James stepped into the house and glanced around. Beneath the window to the right was a cot; in the center against the far wall stood a wood stove; a table and two chairs filled the middle of the room; a few cabinets; and a small closet with a curtain half drawn over the opening made up the rest. He spotted a small shelf above a sink that held a couple mugs, a plate and a pan. On the wood stove was a metal coffee pot, and on the table, he was surprised to see a dictionary. A small basket occupied a spot to the left of the cabinets and James recognized an empty can of Spam, which reminded him that he’d be able to get help though his phone.
October 30, 2014