Saturday, February 12, 2011
The day after giving thanks in '97, I shat myself, metaphorically. As Pinky would say, "I was scared, but I held my own".
So my dad was the pilot and I was in the right seat. We were in a plane that he just sold for half a million dollars. Like the day before. It was uninsured. The sun was setting to our right and night had descended on the left. Shortly after takeoff, we leveled for the short flight to Sacramento. At about 3,000 feet. We would later find out there were birds flying at 3,000 feet.
Tor, though he was not yet Tor, was disappointed that I wasn't a pilot. Consequently, he tried to implicate me in his piloting of the craft. It was because of the bull$h!t that we would go through within five minutes that I was not eager to be a pilot. "Hey Coreman, give me 22 and a half gallons an hour on those engines. It's the red knobs." So far, so good.
I leaned forward to manipulate the knobs. He leaned over my shoulder to check my progress. "Be careful, the numbers start moving fast..." WHAM! "What the f$%&!?" That's my internal voice.
I felt and heard a crushing impact on my face and knew I was gonna die. Shit like this doesn't happen in airplanes and you live to talk about it. It's not like you can pull over and fix the flat or check your coolant. We were in a freaking airplane, and as far as I was concerned, spiraling to the most terrifying death I could imagine. And I was certain that I did it. I had my hands on the controls. Bad idea.
So there is air rushing into the plane. Into my face. Sweet. It was freaking cold, 250 mph air. In the grill. Right there in the grill. When wind is rushing into your airplane, it's not good. I leaned back and not a little to the side to avoid the rush of air. I quickly took inventory of my smashed face with my hand. Blood. Everywhere. And some indeterminate particulate tissue? I blinked both of my eyes. Then one at a time. No sooner than I noticed the feathers on the instrument panel, my dad yelled, nearly inaudibly from two feet away, "We hit a bird!" Guess that clears everything up.
What I knew was my eyeball, smashed to bits, was actually bird guts. And as if I had someone to impress, I stoically took my medicine. After a couple minutes of stoicism, I asked my dad, who had taken control of the aircraft and slowed it to a subsonic speed, "Are we gonna die?". I was proud of myself for asking in a very conversational, and matter of fact voice. We either were or we weren't. I just wanted a little heads up. Dad said, "I hope not". Thanks. That's all the assurance I needed.
We did not. But apparently, it's a good thing he had me doing the deal with the mixture because if I was upright, I would have likely been decapitated. As it was, I just earned a sweet scar on my forehead. If it weren't for him looking over my shoulder, he would have gotten the short end and I would have had to fly the plane south until I ran out of gas and crashed. I for sure would have done a loop though. My CKM pullover may have been the biggest mess, but metaphorically, my underwear got heavily soiled. Four months later we played hookey in the same plane.