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June 14, 2012

By:  Judy Fletcher [ in response to June Writing Prompt

As the day began to open up and reveal the rays of the sun she… opened the door and slid her head-set and bag onto the co-pilot’s seat.
“Are we gonna do this?” said Larry. He had completed the walk-around and was buckled into the left seat with the preflight checklist in his hands. “Day’s wasting. It’s too beautiful up there to be sitting down here, and we gotta job to do. Let’s go, Captain”
She grabbed her headset and bag and climbed into the co-pilot’s seat. “I should be sitting there, not here,” she mumbled as she slammed the door and settled the bag on the floor behind them. “I’m a better flyer than you are and there’s nothing wrong with me now.”
“Take it up with the FAA.”
Her look revealed her pain. “Let’s see if you can get this thing off the ground,” her voice cracked.
“I not only can get it off the ground; I can get it back onto the ground without bending or breaking anything. Can you say the same?” he said with a hoarse laugh.
Before she could return the jab, he yelled “Clear” and turned the key in the ignition. The single engine burst to life with a spit and hiss.
He slowly moved the throttle forward and gently danced on the rudder pedals like a cavalier guiding a ballerina. The Cessna 172 surged and relaxed as he used the rudders to drive it onto the taxiway.
She called the tower and requested takeoff instructions.
“Hi, My Lady. You right or left?” said a low-pitched voice through the headset.
“None of your businesses; do we have permission to takeoff?” she said.
“I’m the boss right now and you are not going anywhere until I know where you are seated, My Lady,”
“I’m right. Are you happy now?”
“Yea, you made my day. November 9er271 Sierra, you have priority on runway one-six. Climb to two-zero-zero, out east. Stay out of the left seat and have a great day, My Lady. Tower out,” said the deep voice.
“10-4. November 9er271 Sierra entering runway one-six and climbing to two-zero-zero, out east. We gone,” she acknowledged with a laugh.
Larry shook his head and said, “Good thing this is a small FBO or we’d be in trouble, big. After two thousand and left, what’s our heading?”
“How would I know? I’m not qualified to fly for a few more months. You’re the pilot, you tell me.”
“You have the map. What grid were we assigned?”
She reached behind the center controls and whirled her bag onto her lap, hitting Larry’s right shoulder in the process.
He shot her an amused look then rubbed his shoulder. “Are you mad at the bag too?”
“Guess we’ll find out when I throw it back into the dutch oven,” she said while she unzipped the bag and began rummaging through it. Finally she produced a gridded search map, unfolded it and ran a pink fingernail around until she found N9271S. She called out the coordinates while programming the GPS.
“Enter the grid from the top or bottom?” he asked.
“Toss a coin, or do I have to do that for you too?” she said and threw the bag into the back.
He slammed his right fist on the yoke and said, “Whatever’s wrong, get over it until we complete our grid. Locating this practice bogie is more important than anything else right now.”
“You’re right, pilot, sir. I’m over it. You fly the pattern and I search. Let’s win this SORTIE.”

Abbreviations and terms used:
FAA … Federal Aviation Administration
FBO … fixed-base operation (or fixed-base operator)
GPS … Global Positioning System
Dutch oven … the area behind the pilot and co-pilot in a small aircraft (term used by the Civil Air Patrol members who search from the back seat of non-air conditioned aircraft)
SORTIE … an operational flight by a single aircraft (used by the Civil Air Patrol to search for or practice searching for downed aircraft and/or passengers)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jannette Spann permalink
    June 14, 2012 6:01 PM

    Interesting story. I liked it.

    • Judy Mosley permalink
      June 14, 2012 9:57 PM

      We agreed to be truthful, remember. Did you actually like it? What was good or not good about it? Remember it had to be short. I’m planning at some point to make it into a longer and better piece.

  2. June 15, 2012 3:04 PM

    great story, yes you should make into a longer piece.

  3. June 19, 2012 6:52 AM

    Loved this! Growing up with Mom and Dad as pilots and latter my two brothers and I becoming one it brought back great memories. I had forgotten how it sounded around our dinner table. Great work…

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