Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do You Remember The First Time You Directed Air Traffic?

With the news that an air traffic controller at JFK Airport let his kid give instructions to some pilots the other day, I can't help but to hearken back to the first time I landed a plane:

I was of the ripe age of 8 when my pappy brought me in to the air traffic control center. The world I used to know faded with all this new found responsibility. Bright shiny buttons flashed in front of my wide-eyed gaze. Pa placed me on his knee and said to me, "Son, you're gonna land your first aircraft."

A bead of sweat trickled from my forehead, but I stayed focus taking solace in the fact that this is a common thing for a young boy. . .No. . .young man to have to do. The pilots voice echoed in my headset, "Flight 555 ready for arrival." I swallowed hard as pappy calmly told me what to say, "You are clear for landing 5-5-5 proceed." "Roger," came the response in my headset.

I watched as Flight 555 approached the runway, but something was wrong, 5-5-5's landing gear had not deployed correctly. I acted then upon instincts. I jammed down the talk-back button, "5-5-5 landing gear deployment failed! I repeat, deployment failed!"

"Mayday! Mayday!" shouted the pilot. I turned to pa, he looked lifeless, he must have fainted from the stress. "I'm going to have to land this plane myself," I said aloud.

I told the pilot to look for a big flatbead truck on the runway in a minute. I then grabbed my jacket and flew down the stairs. Running out to the runway I started up the flatbed that had been used for large transportation of baggage (Driving a car is another thing a boy of this age must learn to do.) I drove out onto the runway as 5-5-5 slowly came down. My heart raced as I saw the aircraft approaching in my rear view. I pressed down on the accelerator as a loud "Thump-Thump" sounded on the bed behind me. I skidded back-and-forth but regained control as the plane rested on the back of my truck.

After we came to a stop I turned and saw passengers cheering. All in a days work I said to myself as I lit up a smoke and hopped out of the cab to walk back up to pa.

Ok, this is a fictional story. But this is not:

1 comment:

Babsbunny said...

You forgot the most poignant part... about how your Dad was standing there,with tears in his eyes, and repeated to all his peers and anyone within earshot... "That's my boy! That's my son, the hero!!!" and to you he said with a sense of overwhelming pride... "Today, you have become a man!" Then, you went to the bar and shared a bottle of whiskey.

No need to thank me. I know it was long ago and some of the details are fuzzy.