Marcio stabs off the autopilot and gently raises the nose of the Phenom. Then the white centerline appears in the hazy beam of our landing light.
“It looks like we’re going to live today.”
“I think so.”
Marcio aligns the nose of the Phenom with the rudder, brings the throttles to idle and we touch down with a slight bump. We are down.
“The beer is going to taste soooo good tonight! Flaps coming to zero.”
“This would have been a real bitch without any lights!”
“Was the issue ever in doubt? Maybe . . . just a little.”
And just like that, it was over. No big deal. The taxi in was challenging. The runway and taxiway lights were a collection of multi-colored orbs, appearing magically in front of us as Marcio tried to keep from hitting one. Sheets of heavy mist raced past the twin beams of our taxi lights like ghostly apparitions as the wind increased. I estimated the visibility at around two hundred feet, sometimes less. As we crept along, searching for the ramp, conditions altered between terrible and really terrible.
After we finally found the ramp and parked Marcio shut the engines down. The silence was like a physical thing hanging over the cockpit like a heavy blanket. The contrast between the peace of success and the chaos of battle is always remarkable. Neither of us moved or said anything. Would have spoiled the moment. We’re only allowed a few seconds of reflection before the indestructible, unflappable pilots were expected to reappear.
“Well that was exciting.”
Marcio chuckled, offered me a fist bump and levered his big frame out of his seat.
That incident was a classic example of what can happen when you’re flying over parts of the world where crossing the point of no return means landing successfully at your destination or . . . Not.