The Sailor's Stories

1041 Chapter forty one – The Sailor’s Awakening.

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Nine hundred and ninety four nautical miles, at three hundred and thirty four knots (roughly three hundred and eighty four miles per hour, or six hundred and twenty kilometers per hour, if you’re so inclined….), equates to about three hours of flight time. Doesn’t seem like much really does it? I mean you could see a movie in that time, take a walk along the beach, have a nice meal with a friend…, but as a scared daddy full of worry sitting in an airplane cabin at thirty five thousand feet, all the while surrounded by a loving family that isn’t yours…, and heading into god only knows what to do with one of your own…, three hours can be a lifetime.

Twenty minutes after takeoff, with course laid in to the nav-plot, I set the auto-pilot and left Corey to watch over things, while I went into the back for a few minutes. Carl and Dale were sitting together chatting softly amongst themselves, just excited to be flying. Not the way I wanted Carl’s first flight to go, but in the end I had no choice, and I certainly couldn’t have left him behind. To be honest, I’d had visions of having him sit right next to me throughout the whole thing, but expediency and the need to get under way tipped my hand in this instance. But then as I watched him, I just knew that even if he’d known my original plan, he was such a good caring and selfless boy that he would have stepped back with no questions anyway…, it was one of the things I loved about him. Consequently, I certainly intended to make it up to him.

Cabe, I saw, was another matter entirely. Since the very first moment I had ever laid eyes on that compact Texan…, Caleb Green, I had been in awe of how centered, controlled and squared away he was. To me he’d just always been that way ever since, he was a guy you could go to for advice or a good steady shoulder to cry on. Never a care in the world it seemed, always ready with a dirty yet somehow wholesome joke, and a ready cocksure smile that just instantly put you at ease.

So it was with great sadness that I saw the man he had become…, he was like a coiled spring sitting there all alone, his head in his hands. I was almost afraid to reach out to him, thinking that he looked so tense yet at the same time so fragile, I was scared he might of shattered if even a small breeze touched him…, but that’s what I did. I went over, and taking the seat next to him, I stretched my arm over his shoulder, pulling him against me. I hadn’t noticed the tears before, but as he pulled himself deeper into me, I felt the wetness against my neck.

Like myself, Caleb was a man of action, no matter where he was, in the courtroom, at play, or where he really should have been all along, at the Conn of a submarine. Unfortunately for him right now…, there was nothing for him to do, and the helplessness of the situation was killing him. I knew I had to do something, to somehow help him through it, but I was at a loss…, so I did all I could at that moment and just held him.

After a while he came back to himself, and pulled away from me. He didn’t say anything at first, but the look of warmth and gratitude in his eyes was all I really needed to understand him. When he smiled it was at first weak, but with each growing second it strengthened until he almost looked like his old self, and he simply said…

“Thanks Cam…”

“Anytime…” I said to him, with a smile of my own. “I mean that…, I’d follow you through hell and back.”

“Thanks buddy…, that’s means a lot.”

We talked for a while longer, and he was able to fill me in on a few more details, but he didn’t know much more than he’d already told me. What I did hear though, made me even more sick to my stomach, and just served to enhance the anger I was already feeling. But I couldn’t show it…, or at least, I tried my best not too, knowing that, that wasn’t what he needed right now. We were both proven operators in our chosen fields, and to be fair Cabe as a lawyer was certainly better at it than I was, but we could both smell bullshit no matter how hard someone tried to disguise it. If even half of what we both suspected was true, I wouldn’t want to have any part of that school once Cabe had gotten through with them.

While we were talking, I glanced over at the boys, it seems that they were taking everything in as well. I was a little worried about Carl, because he was looking a little green and upset over it…, more so than Dale anyway. It was almost as if what he was hearing, was putting him in mind of his own situation from a few months previous. When all this settled down, I was going to have to have another talk with him. Aside from anything else, I still had the papers that Cabe had drawn up for the adoption resting securely in my flight bag. I was leaving that alone, because I didn’t want to sour what should have been a great day for Carl, with what we may find in a few hours time.

“Are you gonna be alright bud?”

“Yeah Cam…, it’s just this waiting is killing me!”

“I know buddy…, I know…, but we can’t make it go any faster.”

As I stood I put my hand on his shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze, when I did, he looked up at me and smiled. None of us were out of the woods yet, but at least he looked a little more like himself.

Being a fighter pilot, I was never one for putting to much faith in any kind of auto-pilot. I guess in the end, it’s a kind of institutionalized arrogance that all fighter pilots have, thinking that they can always do better. I knew this, but it still didn’t stop me from itching to get back to the controls. However, as I stepped up to the cockpit, I was enthralled at the sight before me. Corey was a study in concentration…, he’d found a manual and was going through it step by step. When I slipped into the seat next to him, he looked up briefly, and smiled. Reaching over to the automatic flight controls, I was startled to find that they weren’t engaged.

I shot a look over at my ‘Co-Pilot’…, and was met with a sheepish smile. He twisted the yoke to the left a little, and the aircraft tilted slightly, just to prove he was in control. I was astonished, and not a little taken aback, I hadn’t even felt the transition from automated to controlled flight. I knew the boy was a quick learner when he put his mind to it, and he had been watching me like a hawk before I left him to it, but I didn’t think he would try it on his own…

“How long?” I said, with that same astonishment I was feeling.

“About ten minutes…, I’m really sorry Uncle Cam…, I…”

“Dude I’m not angry, I just wished you asked me first…, you’re doing pretty good though…, is this something you might be interested in?”

“Yeah…, I really like it….”

“Ok…, well you seem to have the basics down…, how about we go through the rest together?”

“Kewl!” He said, all happy and smiling, his excitement obvious.

Over the next two hours I went through everything I could think of to show him about flying, an hour of which he did most of the work. The controls on the Cheyenne are pretty heavy though, and it takes a lot of effort to maintain controlled flight. Being smaller and not as strong as I was, the poor boy soon tired, but I was amazed at how well he did. Thinking to myself though, I felt that I wouldn’t mention the fact that Corey had flown us a good part of the way, to the others until after we had landed…, I didn’t want to add to the already high stress levels unnecessarily.

The boy definitely picked everything up quickly…, almost sponge-like, and to be fair, it was quite good to take a break and just sit back while he showed just how incredible he was. Like I said though, he was getting tired, so with about thirty minutes left in our flight, I retook the controls and started to prepare us for landing. Everything was going well and the bird was showing no signs of being a problem…, all in all I thought that this was going to be a good purchase, and if I was to be honest, I really hadn’t bought myself anything of consequence since the boys had first arrived…, so it was kinda my turn, plus at the very least, it looks like it would be something that Corey and I could share.

At twenty minutes, I started our turn back towards the coast. In order to shave a little time and effort, I’d used the ‘Off Course Navigation’ technique. In Navigation, using standard instrumentation, you reference to the local magnetic north direction, via the compass that most if not all aircraft have on the console. True heading is in fact where your nose cone is pointing. Due to wind forces however, especially at high altitudes, the direction of movement of the aircraft, or track, is not the same as the heading. The nose of the aircraft may be pointing due west, for example, but a strong northerly wind will change its track south of west. The angle between heading and track is known as the drift angle or crab angle. Off Course Navigation states that you don’t allow for wind-drift when planning your course…, you simply fly in a straight line towards the general area you intend to land in, then turn into the wind…, simple and effective. With fifteen minutes to go, I started our descent, and got in touch with the tower…

“Traffic control Albert Whitted Field…, November four one one Bravo Golf, on final approach, do you have us on radar? Over.”

“Roger…, November four one one Bravo Golf, we have you at 50 miles. You’re cleared to land, on runway two four west…, sky is free, winds gusting north at a stately 45 miles.”

“Traffic…, November four one one Bravo Golf…, runway two four, Alpha Whiskey two zero…, wheels down in ten minutes.”

We came in off the water, and through the windshield I could see the runway approaching all too quickly. This was going to be very interesting…, it had been a very long time since I’d done a landing that hadn’t been assisted, not to mention the fact that the field was considerably larger than a carrier…, it was going to take a lot of concerted effort not to treat it like one.

Being the sophisticated high performance aircraft that it is, the Cheyenne 400LS performs almost like a jet, however, you most certainly can’t treat it like one…, especially not the ones I was used to! Luckily though it’s equipped with a stick shaker and pusher as well as a yaw damper, or so the manuals that I’d read online had told me. The flying characteristics at the stall are therefore academic as the stall is defined by the pusher forcing the nose down rather than the airflow breaking away from the wing.

Turning for the approach, I made an obvious mistake, as it turned out…, this would be the first of many. As I lined up on the runway, I simply put the nose down. In a fighter, you can get away with that easily, it gets you home quickly and keeps the engines warm – but not in the Cheyenne. This is an aircraft that, thanks to its huge abundance of power, is supposed to operate close to its redline speed, and it seems, does it as a matter of plain and simple routine.

Putting the nose down offset it’s gentle equilibrium, forcing the aircraft into a dive that simply sent the airspeed soaring round to the wrong side of the striped barber’s pole at 270 knots indicated. Thinking quickly, I pulled the power back to just 30 percent and pulled back on the yoke…, even so we were still in danger of exceeding the 250 knot speed limit drawing closer and closer to the impending doom I could foresee.

At 170 knots, still fighting the bird into the building crosswind, I reached forward and toggled the landing gear, locking the lever in the down position…, that was when I made my second mistake. Underestimating the space needed to make the final approach turn, I was forced to make an inadvertent hammerhead, managing to push 130 knots before applying full flaps. This brought the speed back to 125 knots, just on the blue line, until we crossed the fence at 110 knots. Due to the heavy controls, the aircraft needed to be correctly trimmed and I was sweating my ass off to remember everything I’d read over the last few days. However, due to the wonderful engineers at Piper, the adjustments that I had to make to trim the sexy girl out, were thankfully, minor during the final approach.

Pulling the power all the way back over the threshold, almost to the point of stall, I held the nose up and waited for the Cheyenne to settle gently onto the runway. This is an aeroplane that floats thanks to its long low wing and residual thrust. Eventually the wheels touched in an almost level attitude, I bounced it a couple of times, but the nose-wheel followed soon after the mains and I had to strongly resist the urge to push the throttles to the stops, in case I missed the wire, that I realised almost too late, just simply wasn’t there.

Pulling up to the visitors apron I shut the engines down, and prepared to secure the aircraft. Corey followed me with everything I did, once again soaking it all up…, I truly believed that he was going to be a fantastic pilot, and soon. By the time we made it outside, Cabe was on his phone…, due to the anger in his voice I could only assume with the school. My instincts were confirmed a few moments later as I caught up with the conversation…

“… You’ve got about the time it takes to dig your head out of your ass and tell me where my son is, before I bring the full force and ungodly hell of the U.S. Federal legal system down on you and your school…”

We all just stood there in awe of my friend…, mouths slightly agape at the ferocity, that is Caleb Green in full lawyer mode. There was a brief pause, before I watched all the colour drain from his face…, then he continued slightly more subdued.

“Thank you…, but this isn’t the end…, as soon as I get my boy squared away…, I’m launching a full investigation into this, you mark my words!”

When he hung up the phone, he visibly deflated…, as if all the fight left him in one big hurry. Immediately I went to him and wrapped him in my arms, as the tears came…

“Oh Fuck Cam! … They took him to All Childrens Hospital…, he just went into surgery…”

Written by bigct/Octavius

May 9, 2010 at 13:51

6 Responses

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  1. AArgh,

    Still on that cliff-edge, after three excellent episodes, let’s hoping you are having a rainy weekend there, as we need to know what’s happening.

    Peace, in all senses,

    fb

    fb

    May 9, 2010 at 16:21

    • Thanks for commenting fb…, but in answer to your question. Nope…, sunny skies, pretty warm…, and only a slight hint of autumn.

      However, in words immortalized by the Smashing Pumpkins…, “I only come out at night”… hahahahahaha.

      Thanks for reading, the next one shouldn’t be too much longer.

      Octavius.

      bigct

      May 9, 2010 at 16:42

  2. Thanks Octavius for putting me in your book, but I can’t read past this one. I know it is going to be bad and I don’t think I better read it. It is not you it is me. Thanks Octavius, Hugs JJ

    JJ

    May 9, 2010 at 20:00

  3. Very nice, CT.

    dawngreeter

    May 9, 2010 at 21:49

  4. I hope Cabe’s son isn’t hurt bad. This sounds very ominous. I really hate it when kids get hurt.

    Brian

    May 9, 2010 at 23:02

  5. jj with strength of friends we all can get through anything! Always remember you are not alone and that, it does and will get better. Be safe young man! Stay Safe, and be strong we all stand with you
    Beach

    Beach

    May 8, 2012 at 12:56


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