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A note to readers: This is a long story that unfolds chapter by chapter through the eyes of two protagonists – Mark and Elsa, and as in many of my other stories involves a growing spate of horny characters. Every ten chapters or so I will provide a short summary at the start of that episode to bring new readers up to date (see start of Ch. 90). This story could appear in a number of genres (Loving Wives, Incest, Lesbian, Fetish, and more) depending on the chapter, but the overall theme is Group, so I have applied this moniker to all chapters. The story is still being written, yet I intend to post a new chapter every couple of days. Enjoy.
Chapter 97 – Crash
I saw Melanie and Izzy running down the hall together towards me as I was walking back to my office and the executive conference room from seeing one of the other executives in my company. Sheila was fast waddling behind them, trying to carry her pregnant frame with grace, an almost impossible task at this stage in her pregnancy.
“Mark! Mark!” Mel shouted when she saw me, “Elsa’s in trouble … in the plane. Come quick.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“She telephoned you a couple of minutes ago and we had her on speaker phone, but we didn’t know where you’d gone. It’s something about the landing gear on the Citation. She said she’d call back, but she wanted to work on the problem and talk to air traffic control. She’d started to land at The Meadows, but is flying around southeast of the city while working on the plane.”
“November Two Mike Whiskey, please state the nature of your emergency and the number of souls on board.” The voice of the city approach controller was crisp and efficient, and even had a calming effect on me.
However, those were words I prayed I’d never hear in my entire lifetime, yet five minutes earlier I had broken off an approach into The Meadows in the Cessna Citation to sort things out at a higher altitude southeast of the city. I’d called Mark, but he was unavailable so I talked to Melanie. I’d just declared an emergency – a really big deal in aviation parlance. I’d also dialed up 7700 on my transponder, another indication to all concerned that I was in deep shit. Everybody in air traffic control within two hundred miles knew that this pilot had just started having a very bad day.
“City Approach Control, Two Mike Whiskey is showing two green and one red light on the gear indicator. The indicator shows that the right main landing gear is NOT down and locked. I’ve tried recycling the gear about a dozen times and also some downward G-forces as the gear cycles but there’s no change in indication. I request a fly-by of the City Tower to have them tell me what they see. I’ll also arrange for some folks from my ground crew to take a look too.” I paused and added, “Oh, yes, I am alone – one soul on board, only the pilot, me, Elsa Conner. By the way, the plane is a Cessna Citation X.” ATC knew what kind of plane it was, of course; that was filed as part of my IFR flight plan.
“Stand by Two Mike Whiskey,” City Approach replied. “Stay on this frequency.”
I called Air Ranch on their Unicom frequency while I waited for City Approach Control to get back to me. Wes was in the pattern with a student pilot and answered instantly. I told him what the problem was and begged him to go to city airport to help me. He told me he was on his way. I told him I wanted him looking up at the plane’s landing gear as I made a low pass over the field.
I also asked that he patch Adam Timms, the man who’d been my flight instructor for my jet ratings in the Cessna Citation, in on the Unicom frequency. Adam knew this plane as well as any one I could think of. My next call was to Cindy on my cell phone, but damn, it went into her voice mail. I left the message that I loved her more that anything and worshipped the ground she walked on. I’d started to feel that the remainder of my life was about to get real short. I had that terrible flutter of an impending disaster in my gut, like watching two trains racing head-on at one another on the same track.
The radio came alive. “Two Mike Whiskey, City Approach. Radar contact. You are cleared for a fly-by of the City Tower. I’ll hand you off to the tower at the outer marker inbound and pick you back up as you climb out. Climb to three thousand, turn left to three-zero-zero degrees after your fly-by, and enter a hold at the ‘Ellis’ intersection until you decide on your course of action.”
I repeated all that back to City Approach Control and started to head to city airport. I ran through my checklists.
The Unicom radio came alive. “Elsa, Baby! Mark here. Are you OK?” His voice had a slight panic in it. I guessed that he was using his handheld radio from the background noise.
“Right now, I’m fine, Mark; but I may have to prang up your plane a bit depending on the landing gear. One question you might need to decide is whether you want me to do a full belly flop or teeter on two wheels for as long canlı bahis as I can?” I noted that my voice sounded remarkably calm as though I had any fucking idea what I was doing and could do either of what I proposed without creating a fiery inferno in the middle of the runway at city airport that would provide some interesting film for the evening news.
“Be back to you. Hold on, here’s another friend,” Mark said rapidly.
“Hi Elsa, Adam Timms here. Can you hear me all right? Cindy is holding her cell phone on speaker of Mark’s handheld radio as they drive to the airport.”
“Yes, Adam. I hear you fine. Thanks for your help. I’m headed for a fly-by of the tower now – probably five minutes out. Will you be there, Mark?”
Mark responded first, “No, but soon, and Wes telephoned me as he flew there with the student he was instructing. He’ll be standing beside the runway next to the 172 that he’s flying in there. He’ll also be checking the plane’s gear. I’m still ten or fifteen minutes away from the field.”
In a calming tone, Adam said, “Just play it straight for now, Elsa. You can do this and come out just fine. I’m pulling out the manuals for the Citation. You just aviate, navigate, and communicate. Stay calm. Make your fly-by and let me know what the tower sees.”
I acknowledged their help and let things get quiet. I ran through the checklists for the tenth time. There was comfort in procedure and routine. My throat was dry as the desert and my hands had developed a tremor that I couldn’t seem to stop.
City Approach Control came on the radio two minutes later and handed me off to City Tower as I crossed the outer marker. As I looked ahead at the huge airport about five miles ahead I could see a panoply of red blinking lights converging on runway three two. The airport and most of the nearby fire departments had provided equipment and it looked like more were arriving at the field as I flew down the approach path. On one taxiway, I could see the Cessna 172 parked that Wes had just flown in.
By agreement with the Tower I leveled out about seventy feet off the ground, slightly above the height of the tower. I flew a flawless fly-by, folded up the gear and executed the assigned missed approach. The warning light went out, indicating that the gear was up and locked.
“Two Mike Whiskey, City Tower. We saw your right main gear was partially down, cocked at about a sixty-degree angle, but not moving into position. It did retract with the other wheels as you climbed out. The left main and nose gear looked normal and also folded up properly as you retracted. Go back to City Approach Control for further instructions and assistance.”
I acknowledged their communication and went back to Approach Control. Approach had me head up to Ellis Intersection for my hold. I was told I had that airspace to myself.
I went back to Unicom on my second radio, “Two Mike Whiskey with you. I assume you heard Tower. You see anything else.”
Wes came on, “It looks like the gear door might be binding against the sheet metal under the wing. I thought I saw a ripple in the sheet metal next to the door on that wing. Hard to tell at that speed.”
There was some other chatter as he held the mike open but I couldn’t understand what was said. Wes came back on, “The airport fire department Battalion Chief agrees with what I just told you. He’s a pilot too and was watching from the other side of the runway. He thinks the door has bound up with the wing’s sheet metal for some reason and won’t open any further. We couldn’t tell whether the retraction mechanism was damaged.”
I told him, “I’ve recycled the gear about a three-dozen times since I got the initial ‘warning light’ on the panel. Any ideas about what to do now?” I asked over the Unicom.
The Unicom came to life after a silence, “Elsa, this is Adam again. I think I understand what’s happened. First off, it’s nothing you did. Second, there’s only two ways I can think of to maybe fix it.”
“Go ahead, Adam,” I replied. The Unicom radio frequencies often dispensed with the formality of the ATC radio channels, especially on bad weather days when almost all of the ‘sunshine’ pilots were staying on the ground.
“We want you to get a reserved block of airspace and dive the plane with the gear down right up to Mach One – even slightly past it if you can. The plane can take the stress, but you may not be able to blast past Mach 1. Our hope is that the gear door will tear off in your dive. If you feel the Mach One shudder or if you feel the plane getting too squirrelly, I want you to back off the speed and then slow to regular gear cycling speed and recycle the gear again. Pull a few G’s, but not more than two. After that, leave it down and locked, then do another fly-by. If it’s still jammed I think you might want to fold things up and do a belly flop unless you have a better idea for forcing it down.”
“OK, Adam, I’ll go back to Approach and ask for some space,” I told him. We both bahis siteleri clicked our mikes a couple of times to acknowledge.
“City Approach Control, Two Mike Whiskey back with you. We’d like to climb to forty thousand and do a dive to Mach One or so and try to rip the gear door off in the jetstream. After than we’d like another fly-by and after that I’ll come back around to land. Think you can help us with that?”
“Roger, Two Mike Whiskey. Turn left to two-eight-zero degrees and climb to flight level four-zero-zero. Remain this frequency; we will coordinate your intrusion into Center airspace and take you out over unpopulated areas. You’ll be by yourself in the block of airspace we’re putting you in. We’d like you to execute your dive on a heading of one-eight-zero so that we can vector you back to the city for your next approach. Again, stay on this frequency until told otherwise.”
I acknowledged and turned into my climb. I checked in again at FL 400. Approach had me head west-northwest a little further before I turned south and started my dive. Right after my new instructions I suddenly had another nervous thought.
I went back to Unicom. “Unicom. Two Mike Whiskey here. Adam or Wes, what if the engine inhales that gear door?”
There was a long silence. Adam finally came on the radio; “That won’t happen. If the doors tear off, and I think they will, they’ll stay below the engine nacelles as they blow past the plane. In any case, be prepared for normal shutdown and fire just in case. You’ll probably lose all three gear doors in the dive, but not the gear itself.”
‘Oh, great,’ I thought, ‘then I could try the infamous ‘no-airport, no-engine, failed-gear, panicked-pilot’ landing.”
Unicom came alive again. Mark said, “Elsa, don’t worry. Wes agreed with Adam. Also, when you fly-by this time you’ll see the runway will be foamed. The fire department insists this is just a precautionary measure. They’ll keep adding foam right up until you land – wheels up or down. Your choice. Retracted might do the least damage – a belly landing, but down might work to shake the problem gear into position if you bounce it.”
I acknowledged again. I could feel real panic starting to creep into my life. The tremor in my hands was so bad at times I could barely hold and read the checklist or work the throttles. This was the most stressful situation I’d ever been in.
“Two Mike Whiskey, City Approach.”
“Go ahead, City,” I replied.
“Turn left to one-eight-zero. Descend your discretion; level out after your run. Do not go below six-thousand feet.”
I started a procedure turn to my left and accelerated. I lowered the gear as I did, saw that damn red light, and then allowed the speed to build up as I throttled forward. The maximum gear extended speed is 250 knots. As I slowly advanced the throttles my speed built up above 250 knots. As I leveled off I hit 300 knots and then fully advanced the throttles. I held level flight as the speed built to 350 then 400 knots then 450 true airspeed. The plane was wobbling around a little but still felt highly controllable. I was trusting Adam’s assessment about the plane’s airworthiness and controllability.
I could feel the vibration from both wings as the gear doors started to flutter. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought the right wing had more jitter to it.
I moved from subsonic to transonic at about Mach 0.85. I nosed over into a shallow dive; mindful of the load factors I’d be putting on the aircraft as I tried this maneuver. Mach 0.87 – more shudder and flutter. I thought I heard a tearing from the left wing. I thought, “Wrong wing! Damn it!”
Mach 0.89. I felt stronger vibrations from the right wing and the nose gear under my feet; I could see a visible shudder on that wing but I’d seen greater fluctuations in turbulent weather.
Mach 0.93. Not much change.
Mach 0.95. Vibration intensified – more severe. I went back on the Unicom; “Elsa here. Mach 0.96. I’ll go supersonic in about twenty seconds.” I didn’t wait for a reply. I rammed through 34,000 feet, descending now at near 10,000 feet per minute.
Mach 1.00 then 1.05 suddenly as I slid past the sonic barrier. I think I imagined a bump and tear but things sounded strange at that speed. I backed off on the throttles and watched the speed return to subsonic Mach numbers.
I went through 10,000 feet going somewhere in the vicinity of 580 knots and started to decelerate. I’d had the airspeed past the redline on the airspeed indicator. I’d also felt as though I’d lost a lot of the controllability of the craft, having to continuously monitor the dive to keep the plane on course and stable.
I got the Cessna Citation back to 250 knots level at 6,000 feet. I called in, “City Approach, Two Mike Whiskey is ready for another fly-by.” They had me descend to 3,000 feet and gave me vectors for runway 32 again. At least the weather had held. I had quarter full tanks on fuel. The clouds were scattered at 1,000 bahis şirketleri feet and broken at 5,000 feet; overcast layer at 10,000 feet; I hadn’t noticed. My focus was on that damned red light, my instruments, and trying to remain calm.
I called my crew on the Unicom again as I descended. “Elsa here. I want you to know I did not retract the gear after going sonic. I think I felt a few unusual bumps but it was a rough ride anyway. I don’t want to fold up the gear if there’s something new going on down there; I’ve got enough fuel for a few more passes, so let’s see what the dive produced. I still have the red light”
“Fine. Good thinking,” I heard Adam Timm’s voice. I knew he was in Florida, patched in so that he could talk to me.
Wes came on, “I’m going back out to the runway to watch you fly by. I love you. We all do. You’ll do fine.”
Mark immediately came on, “Mark here. Elsa, I worship you. I love you. Mel, Sheila, Izzy, and Cindy are with me. We love you.”
“I love you too, everybody.” Now that worried me. My best-ever family had told me in a tense and dangerous moment that they loved me. Were they really saying, ‘Goodbye. I’ll hide my eyes from the fireball as your plane crashes.’ Oh shit!
I clicked back on the Unicom frequency, “Cindy or Mark, please don’t reply to this. Just tell mom and dad I love them if anything happens to me and take care of my baby.” My voice sounded very strained. The requested silence prevailed. I had tears running down my face; I didn’t want to lose out on seeing Philip Emerson grow up and being with all the people I loved. I opened the mike and said in a choked voice, “I love you all.”
I made the fly-by just as before with my altitude somewhere between twenty feet above the tower windows. I did a smooth climb towards 3,000 feet in my missed approach and headed back towards Ellis intersection.
“Two Mike Whiskey, City Tower. You have no gear doors at this point. The right gear is still canted at about a sixty-degree angle to the wing or thirty-degrees off vertical.”
“Tower, I want to recycle the gear and make another fly-by. Is it OK to just fly a regular traffic pattern for 32?”
“Roger, Two Mike Whiskey; left pattern for Runway 32. Clear for the fly-by.” I acknowledged the clearance. On the other radio, I heard City Approach Control pushing other air traffic into holding patterns out away from the airport. I was making a lot of people late for their landing.
On the downwind leg I recycled the gear. I prayed the lights would go all green.
They didn’t. I still had one red light. I then worked through the idea of bouncing hard on the landing to try to rattle the plane enough to force the gear into position.
“City Tower. Two Mike Whiskey would like to go back outside the outer marker and make a normal approach to a full stop landing with only two wheels fully extended. I plan to bounce very hard on the left main to try to shake that right wheel down. I’ll then try to go around to a full stop landing if I can, but I expect I’ll end up rolling to the right onto that wing, so the next time is apt to be a keeper. Crash trucks and fire apparatus please.”
Approach responded, “Go for it, Elsa. Our prayers are with you. Godspeed.” Very non-standard ATC communications.
City Approach vectored me in a large oval so that I intercepted the approach course about a mile outside the outer marker. I put the gear down as I re-processed the flap settings and throttle for the approach. The red light remained. I nailed one-sixty knots with twenty degrees of flaps over the outer marker. I ran through the checklists again. Adjust trim. Adjust flaps. Adjust airspeed and throttle setting. Say goodbye to this life. Pray.
“Two Mike Whiskey is cleared for the bounce or landing. No need to reply. You’ll have a major red-light reception this time – all equipment will be watching you just in case. Runway is getting the final foam application for you.” I acknowledged even though I didn’t have to and tried to relax my white knuckled grip on the yoke. I told myself for hundredth time to remain calm. My tears fogged my eyes.
I wasn’t aware of it when I’d been shot and near death. I’d blacked out and didn’t regain consciousness until I was healed enough to be cogent and not move around. This was different. I was hyper alert and taking in every detail, because it might be my last seconds as a sentient being in this realm of time and space.
I took careful aim at what I wanted as my bounce point at the start of the layer of foam at the inner marker only two hundred feet above the runway and less than a thousand feet to go. I cross-controlled the jet raising the right wing while I held the jet on the runway heading – steer into a left turn and heavy right rudder for a right turn. The plane canted over in a right wing high approach. I cut the power and yanked the yoke back seconds later, so we hit the ground hard – damn hard – metal bending hard. The jet took a severe hit on the left main gear. I think the nose wheel touched down too. The plane made sudden noises I’d never heard before. I bounced and the plane started to roll to the right out of the bounce as it started to settle to the ground again.
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