So dear reader, you might have been wondering, “Where the heck has Kerry been?” Well the answer is, busy. A few years ago I started writing a memoir about my adventures as an international ferry pilot. I hit it hard, as new authors are want to do, with tons of energy and drive to get my story down on paper. I actually did pretty good at first, cranking out fourteen chapters that covered most of the stories that I thought would make good reading. Then things stalled. The book sat on my laptop untouched for months on end mocking me, “Come on Kerry when are you going to edit me? When are you going to finish me and try to get published?” This winter i couldn’t take it any more so I buckled down and got back to work on the book and much to my surprise mostly finished it. I say mostly because even though it’s “done” I’m still going over and over it, cutting and polishing it. I’m also trying to decide just how technical to make it. Pilots who read flying books love the details but non-pilots might get bored reading about how every switch in the cockpit is configured so it’s a tough balancing act. I’m done enough to start looking for agents to help me get published and have had a few positive replies, so fingers crossed. Anyway I’m going to try and find time to blog again and one of the things I’m going to do is to post short sections of my book for you all to check out and hopefully like and comment on. So without further ado here is the short prologue/teaser I’m thinking of starting the book with.
I never know when a ferry flight might go wrong. With so many things that could possibly go wrong, I knew better than to get too comfortable, too relaxed. But it’s hard to not let your guard down after hours and hours of open ocean. But that’s what happened on the night of November 12th, 1993 in the cockpit of a brand new Beechcraft Bonanza high over the Atlantic ocean. Over the previous three days the plane and its extra fuel tanks had performed flawlessly and if everything continued that way I’d be in Paris and done with the trip in eight hours.
I was always nervous leaving the safety of land and heading out over the ocean in a single engine plane. But stress and apprehension of taking off from St. Johns, Newfoundland on another solo trans-Atlantic flight had worn off hours before. Once aloft with the engine running smoothly and no weather demons to contend with, I settled into the pilot’s seat like it was a familiar old easy chair, comfortable but alert.
Four hours in to the flight the dropping fuel gauges of the wing tanks said it was time to transfer some fuel from the ninety gallon ferry tank that had been installed in the cabin to give the Bonanza the extra range needed to cross the Atlantic. I opened the valve on the bottom of the steel tank mounted behind my seat and went back to the book I was reading. My intentions was to shut the valve off after the wing tanks were just over half full to avoid overfilling them.
When I checked the progress ten minutes later I was perplexed to see that the wing tanks had made only a modest gain. This got my attention because although I hadn’t really timed the transfer rate when I had tested the fuel system over land, I was sure that it had gone much faster than that. Hoping it was my imagination I took out a pencil, marked the fuel level on the steel ferry tank and sat back to see how fast it went down. It didn’t take long for the devastating reality to hit me…..The fuel wasn’t moving. The news hit me like a thunderbolt. There wasn’t enough fuel remaining in the wing tanks to make it to Paris or to get me back to Canada. I was screwed.