The Liberty Gazette
April 25, 2017Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Things didn’t go as they should have so I was forced to be a hero.
Members post pictures, often butterflies, fairies, and flowers, to be used as story prompts in the online writing group. We write what comes to mind, taking turns adding a line or two, and see what develops. Like the stalk with small white droopy flowers. Someone started off with a woman in a garden, loving life.
By Writer 5, “She walked around the edge of her garden and hummed a melody befitting the beauty before her,” I knew what this story needed: an airplane.
Thus, my contribution: “Then the B-17, Aluminum Overcast, lumbered overhead, its four radial engines drowning out her beautiful melody, but she didn’t miss a beat and sang even louder.”
Notice my respect for my storytelling mates, acknowledging their character, adding a bomber, but letting her hum louder. No harm done, right? I was horrified then to see the next entry.
Writer 7: “Her sweet song stuck in her throat as she noticed the plane dive toward the lapping blue-green waters of the bay.”
How could they even think of bringing down Aluminum Overcast, a piece of flying history appearing at every major air show in the U.S.? You can’t just nonchalantly toss Aluminum Overcast into the water! I had to save it! I added that the captain was the husband of the garden-humming chick. Surely, now, they would not cast out Aluminum Overcast.
But when the next writer had “Pam” dial 9-1-1, it was clear I had to enter the danger zone. I didn’t want to, but they made me.
Me: “All four engines stopped. No smoke, no indications. They had just filled the tanks – this was either fuel contamination… or sabotage.” (Note: suspenseful music goes here.)
“Not enough altitude to turn around, no engine power, their ship became a glider. Descending 700 feet a minute only gave them a couple of minutes before a water landing. Starting emergency procedures with his co-pilot, he was thankful today’s flight was with the training captain, Linda, the one who taught him to fly this plane.”
(See what I did there? Even if they would kill this poor gal’s husband, surely they wouldn’t kill me!)
Writer 9: “Bracing for impact David caught a glimpse of a house – Millie’s house. He imagined her, still in her pj’s, taking her morning garden walk, unaware of the struggle overhead. No, he won’t die, not like this. He would live, he had to – for her! Taking a deep breath he worked fast and determinedly.”
That did me in. Brace for impact? They’re not going to impact, they’re going to ditch! And, Millie? What happened to Pam? She was at the airport, but Millie’s in pj’s? And what pilot qualified to fly a B-17 acts like that during an emergency? Fortunately, at this point someone said, “Linda, you have to write the rest, I don’t know how to save a crashing plane.”
Crashing plane?! It’s! Not! Crashing!
Me: “He shook it off. Strange, with all his training he would have those thoughts. Fortunately only for a split second, then his professional pilot-self returned. Linda began restart procedures even as they prepared to ditch. Number one engine: battery, alternator, mags On. To both pilots’ surprise, it ignited. She continued in sequence, skipping the pre-start checks. By the time number two started David had stopped the descent as waves spit at the belly. Climbing, they turned toward the airport, relieved that they didn't have to ditch Aluminum Overcast. David wondered what went wrong in his head, even if for only a second.”