True Stories from the 20th Century at Pacificorp
By J. Charles Cheek1
© September 2005
Dave Beadle, Manager of Contract Construction, and I were on a flight from Spokane, Washington to Portland, Oregon via one stop at Seattle, Washington.
We made the brief stop at Boeing Field to deplane one F-27 and board another for Portland. Dave was deeply engrossed in reading a paperback novel. He hardly took his eyes from the book as we walked from one plane to the other.
Every plane seat on the leg from Spokane had been occupied but this F-27 was only about half full. As the plane charged north down the runway, Dave was again boring into the story in the paperback. The plane lifted off the runway and I watched the runway below us. Just as the plane was clearing the end of the runway I heard a loud boom then the plane shuttered violently for a few seconds.
“Look,” I said to Dave and pointed toward the ground. “Something is wrong with this plane. We’re loosing altitude.”
“Yeah,” said Dave casually as he briefly removed his eyes from the book and glanced out the window. Then he returned to reading the book.
At about 200 feet above the ground the plane quit loosing altitude. My heart was racing as the stewardess announced over the intercom, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are having some problems with one of the engines so we’re going to return to the airport.”
I poked Dave on the shoulder, “See, I told you. There is something wrong with this damn plane.
“Yeah, I guess so,” replied Dave as he again briefly removed his eyes from the book looked out the window.
“What the hell is in that book, Dave? Sex?”
“Not much, its just interesting.”
“Look,” I said as the plane began turning to the left. “Those radio towers are straight out from us.”
Again Dave looked briefly away from the book but didn’t comment.
“Holy crap, Dave. Look at that. There’s red lights flashing all around the runway.” I could clearly see fire engines and emergency vehicles along the edge of the field. It seemed clear to me that they were expecting us to crash.
Again, Dave made a quick look away from the book but no response. I’m thinking to myself, This guy is really cool under pressure. Here we are in mortal danger and he keeps on reading his book.
“Please be sure your seatbelt is securely fastened,” instructed the stewardess.
I pulled my belt tight. Dave didn’t move.
“Dave, did you hear what the stewardess said?”
“Yeah,” he replied as he slowly checked his seat belt tightness.
This guy is really cool under fire, I again thought. I breathed deeply as my pulse raced. The F-27 landed softly on the runway and taxied to the gate where we had departed.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your cooperation. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please stay in the airport building while we arrange for another flight to Portland. We will notify you over the public address system.”
“Yeah, right.” I said to Dave. Listen to her try and convince us that she wasn’t about to pee her pants like the rest of us.”
“Awwww, that wasn’t much,” replied Cool-Hand Dave.
As we stood up I noticed that the pilot came out of the cockpit and was the first to leave the plane. He did not have a pleasant expression on his face.
“Did you see that, Dave?” I said excitedly. “That pilot left first and he really looked pissed?”
“Yeah,” replied Dave calmly.
Man, this guy is really cool, I again thought.
“I could use a drink, how about you, Dave?”
“Okay,” replied Dave.
As the waitress delivered my scotch and water and Dave’s martini, it occurred to me that everyone on that plane might be here in the bar having a drink. I took a sip from my glass, turned and scanned the room. As I returned my gaze toward Dave, he was holding two fingers high in the air toward the cocktail waitress. That broke the tension for me.
“You almost pulled it off, Dave.”
“What?” replied Dave with a mischievous look.
“You had me convinced that you were Cool Hand Luke but you just gave it away. When I turned my head you threw down that martini in one fell swoop and immediately ordered two more drinks. Fess up, you were scared too.”
Okay, maybe just a little,” replied Dave with a big grin.
E – N – D
1 Mr. Cheek has written dozens short stories under the general headings of True Stores from the 20th Century at Pacificorp and Digressions of J. Charles. He is also the author of the novel Stay Safe, Buddy – A Story of Humor and Horror during the Korean War,300 pages, Publish America ISBN # 159286631X