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Plight Of The Prop Essay

1971 words - 8 pages

As an eight year old North Dakota farm boy, I was elated when my uncle Lyle invited me to ”enjoy” an airplane ride in his two-seater Piper Cub.
That elation turned to panic, however, with the directions he gave me as he lashed me into the rear seat.
“Lee, be sure you don’t put your feet on any of the cables you see there on the floor next to your seat.” He said, “If they get messed up I won’t be able to control the plane! Sit still, keep your hands on your lap and away from the controls.”
Needless to say, I sat emulating a corpse with rigor mortis for the entire flight.
Was it fun?
Well, perhaps, if you like seeing you entire short life pass before your eyes as you soar ...view middle of the document...

That’s probably the reason for the seat belts.
There’s the engine fuselage. It’s painted WWII gray. Good Lord, you don’t suppose the engines are war surplus?
It is a three bladed prop engine. One blade looks as though the leading edge is patched. Oh my! Is that duct tape? Surely they wouldn’t use duct tape - although I knew a mechanical engineer who carried a roll of it in his car because it provides a miracle fix in case of an emergency.
There was a fellow inspecting that blade before we boarded. My aerophobic frequent-flyer brother has reminded me numerous times that this airline has the oldest fleet of planes in the country.
Time to evaluate my options. The door is still open. I could bolt out the door and demand to be allowed to take an alternate flight, but, I’d probably get an even older and even less mechanically airworthy plane.
The thud of the door as it closes eliminates that option. I am now permanently entombed in this potential crematorium. Well at least the door apparently sealed properly.
That devilish look on the flight attendant’s face alarms me. Could she have been a guard at Alcatraz? She looks old enough.
It is so cold inside we can see our breaths. We quickly don our gloves. I put on an ear band.
***
The pilot is on the intercom. He voice has a preteen tone. “Welcome to the Detroit food locker flight. WHEN we get ONE engine started we will be able to give you some heat.” He sounds a lot like "IF" we get the engine started. I know these things are supposed to be able to fly for a bit on one engine but aren't we supposed to START with TWO?
"He continues, “and WHEN we get the second one started we will be able to really make you nice and toasty."
***
The right engine is whining and sputtering to life. Is that a backfire I hear? There is a cloud of smoke and an unburnt diesel smell.
What’s that June? You think it sounds like it’s missing?
Now the left one with the duct tape bandaid churns and churns and churns and churns and finally catches. At least not on fire - although there is another dense cloud of smoke.
Did the ground crew make a mistake and load number 2 diesel instead of number 1. My son-in-law’s father, who has extensive experience with diesels and diesel fuels, has warned about how one will gel up and not flow in cold weather.
I should have checked the outside temperature before I boarded.
I’m not sure but I think the left engine is missing. We had a John Deere tractor when I was a kid and it sounds a lot like that—put,pop,put. Do they make two cylinder turbo props?
***
Our Alcatraz attendant, evidently moonlights as an auctioneer. She’s rattling through the preflight instructions in record time without taking a single breath. I’m trying to put in a bid for a snap-lock belted seat cushion,an attached oxygen mask and exit door from the lavatory next to the soft drinks, but she finished before I can get the safety chart...

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