I know, I know. “Hey Kerry, you took another year off from posting. What the hell?” Well, dear reader, like I’ve said before, I’m lazy. And like I’ve said before, I make no promises but I’ll try and post more often. because I still have a boat load (plane load?) of stories to tell and it would be a shame to keep them all to myself. So without further ado , a story.
So there I was, sitting behind a desk, answering phone calls. ( Not every flying story starts with “It was a dark and stormy night.”) I had been hired to man the phones for my good friend Quazy’s skydiving operation while he was out of town visiting his mother. This was back in the dark ages before cell phones so when the landline rang I assumed it was someone looking to thrown out of a reasonably good airplane. Nope, it was quazy. I was a little surprised because he’s just taken off in his Cessna 182 about an hour before. He was flying from Minneapolis to North Dakota and while planes are fast and all that, it was still a going to take him at least 2 hours to get there. How did I know this? Because he’d called me prior to leaving to get my opinion on the line of thunderstorms that were going to be in his way. I’d told him that I thought he should wait and let them pass but he went anyway. (If you’re not going to listen to me why call?)
My opinion was based on a number of things.
1. Thunderstorms aren’t to be missed with if you can help it.
2. The beat up, old, broken down, jump plane didn’t have much in the way of flight instruments. (none to be exact) . So even if a pilot had an instrument rating and a lot of experience flying in bad weather that plane wasn’t the one to do it in.
3. Quazy had neither and instrument rating or the bad weather experience to use it if he did. Which he didn’t . See above.
4. Thunderstorms aren’t to be messed with!
But Quazy was not to be deterred. He was going to visit his mother come hell or high water damn it! You see Quazy suffered from the same thing many doctor/pilots suffer from. The mistaken impression that if they are outstanding and above average in one field you then must therefore be amazing at everything you do. Was Quazy a doctor you ask? No. He was something worse. A professional skydiver. Those guys are the worst! How could some scraggly dude in cutoff jean shorts possibly have a bigger ego than someone who literally holds people’s lives in their very hands? Because professional skydivers do that too, only at 125 miles an hour.
So because Quazy was one of the most experienced skydivers in the world that obviously means he can handle any weather that comes his way. Turns out his ego was writing checks his Cessna couldn’t cash. Quazy was calling me from a hotel in central Minnesota and needed me to come and get him. “Where’s the plane Quazy?” I asked, not caring if he was hurt. (pilots are a dime a dozen. Planes cost real money) ” He told me it was in a farm field and was undamaged. But he was too shook up to fly so he needed me to come and fly it out for him. That got my attention. Quazy was a lot of things, but easily rattled wasn’t one of them.
When Quazy approached the line of thunderstorms he went lower. And lower Aaaand lower. Until there was no lower left. And when he tried to do the whole discretion is the better part of valor thing and run away he found that the clouds had closed in behind him. He was trapped like a rat in a cage. At that point he decided to stop wishing he was on the ground and do something about it. He spotted a nice little country road in the middle of nowhere (because that’s where you put them) and landed his plane without a scratch. He pulled into a short driveway next to some farmers shed and hitched a ride into town.
That’s where I come in Quazy wanted me to fly the plane out of ther before the FAA got wind of his little incident. The storm had passed by the time we got to the plane. At this point Quazy declared his constitution had recovered enough to allow him to finish what he started so he ws going to be the one to fly the Cessna out of there.
The road/runway had a slight hill on it so Quazy told me to drive up to the top to watch for cars and signal when it was clear. I was just shy of the top of the hill when I saw a powerline that we’d failed to notice before. I looked in the rearview mirror and was alarmed to see the little Cessna pulling out onto the road already! Quazy hadn’t waited for my signal, he just going for it. I jumper out of the car, stood under the powerline and started jumping up and down while pointing at the powerline. It didn’t matter, Quazy was rolling. He finally saw me just after he broke ground. The plane pitched up briefly. (Can I make it over the powerline?……Nope) Not sure if he could make it over the of the lines he went under. Now this powerline wasn’t one of those tall transmission lines that you could fly a 747 under. No sir. This was a short farmland powerline just barely tall enough to tractor under, or a Cessna. I ducked as he lowered the nose adn dove under the powerline with only a few feet to spare. Was the excitement over? Not by a long shot because just as he was squeezing under the powerline, a car full of teenagers crested the hill going the other way. Imagine their surprise when they came over the top of the hill and were greeted with a windshield full of Cessna. Quazy was just as surprised. He pulled up sharply and missed the car with a good 10 feet to spare. And where was I during all this? I had a front row seat because I was still standing/ducking under the powerline. Ity was all very exciting.
The kids in the car didn’t even have a chance to stop before the plane was over and gone. The look on their faces as they drove past me was priceless. I just smiled waved.