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Stories from Chris Geis
The Accident

Brian boosted his four year old son Sam onto the window ledge.  Many times Brian and his son had taken an outing to watch the small, noncommercial planes take off and land.  The size of the planes at this small rural airport could not be compared to the size of the planes that Brian and his father had watched so many times at the old Stapleton airport, but the thrill was the same.   The excitement of  watching the planes was secondary to the excitement of  spending time with his  young son, as his father had spent with him.

   Even the small airport personnel knew the two aviation junkies by sight.

“We’re going to start charging you two an entrance fee.” said the bald headed man behind the counter grinning.

   “And my wife is beginning to think this is our second home.” replies Brian.

   “Dad, Dad…here comes one!” squealed Sam as he spots a twin engine prop leveling off and lining up with the runway.

   “See Sam, the wheels are coming down.”

   “Yea!” Sam bellowed with the excitement of a four year old.  The plane floated to the surface of the runway, bounced at contact with pavement  and gradually slowed down and began its taxi to the one single hanger.

   “God, I love the sound of the props.” thinks Brian to himself.

   Craning his neck to see the end of the runway, Sam sees two planes ready to take off.  “Dad!  Dad!  Two more are ready to go!” 

   “I see them bud.” replies Brian.

   One after another the small private planes taxied to the end of the runway, scurried down the pavement and were airborne.   It still amazes Brian that man can fly, let alone set foot on the moon.  “Wilbur and Oliver would so proud” thinks Brian.

   It was sometime before the twosome saw anything remotely resembling a plane in the air.  They passed the time watching the birds and fading white jet streams of jets that had passed thousands of feet above. 

    The sun’s brightness bounced off the body of a small aircraft headed for the airport.

“Sam!  Here comes one.  Tell me when you can hear its props.”

    “I can hear them Dad.  Isn’t it going to land?”

   “This one has to circle around and line up with the runway.   The plane flew high over the terminal.  “ Watch that way for the plane to come back.” and he pointed to the north.

 It wasn’t long before the aircraft was is sight again.

    “Dad, the wheels aren’t showing yet.”

    “They’ll be coming down any second.  Just watch.”  The landing gear was not coming down. “Maybe this is fly by, bud.” Brian tells Sam.  All of a sudden the left landing gear appears.  “Oh Shit!” yelled Brian as he noticed it was only the LEFT wheel he could see and the approach was coming much too fast.  Suddenly, the plane fell from its gradual descent into a near nose dive.

  “Oh my God!  The plane is going to crash!” screamed Brian as he turned to see who might be standing nearby.  The few people mingling in the small terminal came running to stand beside Brian.  Without even thinking he yanked young Sam from the window ledge.

   At the instant the plane hit the ground, the airport sirens began to ring an ear piercing alarm.

   “Oh, Jesus.” Brian whispered as he wanted to close his eyes to the horrific sight in front of him, but not being able to, he held his breath and stood frozen. Glancing quickly around, he noticed that everyone near the enormous windows were standing firm, with the look of horror on their faces.  An older lady was wailing “Oh, My God…Oh, My God”   The young lady standing next to Brian crosses herself and something softly under her breath.

   Sam began to cry as everyone could hear the sound of metal ripping apart as it Slammed onto the pavement.  Sam’s little arms were tightly wrapped around his dad’s legs and his head buried in his jacket.

   Brian could neither speak nor move as he watched the plane.   The left wingtip hit first, then the left engine and left landing gear.  Even inside the terminal the sound of ripping metal could be heard and the impact shook the huge windows.

  “Call 911, plane down!” bellowed a uniformed man as he ran past the small crowd and burst though the double glass doors.  The scream of the sirens was almost deafening. 

  The left wingtip began to break up and chunks catapulted into the air. The left engine broke off entirely from the fuselage.  Bright sparks were flying from the force of metal hitting pavement. The body of the plane plummeted across the pavement, disintegrating as it slid.  The sound of metal ripping apart was horrifying.

And then the body flipped over and bull dozed itself into the shallow mud of the irrigation ditch off the side of the runway. It hit so hard, mud and clumps of grass flew into the air.

  “Stay here!!” screamed Brian to Sam, as he ran towards the double doors. As he burst through doors, he realized that he was not alone.  Two other men where right on his heels.  The three men sprinted across the wreckage strewn runway towards the mangled remains of the plane’s fuselage. 

   The three men stopped in their tracks as the smell of fuel hit their noses.  The odor was suffocating and toxic.

   “Oh MY GOD!” screams the man standing next to Brian.  Puffs of black smoke were rolling from the pile of mangled metal.  In a flash second, the three men ran towards the smoking pile of rubble. 

   Brian’s foot slid across the wet metal as he tried to get balance to reach for the door handle.  Pulling himself up, he could brace himself against a  bent rod that was protruding from the plane.  The second man was able to brace himself directly behind Brian and together they shoved their fingers under the edge of the crumbled, dented door.  “On three…one, two, three.”  Both men grunted as they tried with all their might to pull free the door.  No good.  “Again! One, two, three.” 

Brian bracing his foot against the wreckage, pulled with everything humanly possible and the door flew open.

   Through the tangle of wires and cables, the two men could see the body of a woman slumped over throttle, blood streaming down the side of her neck.

Grabbing hold of the shoulder of man beside him as not to crumble from his weak knees, Brian tore at the hanging mess of wires, crotched down and crawled into the cramped space and knelt beside the young woman.  Chunks of glass hung from empty holes where the instrument panel had been.

  “Please oh please, let her be alive” was the common thought of the two men starring at the silent, limp, and  helpless woman.

   Gently Brian leaned the woman back and saw a deep bloody gash on her cheek. He reached down to unbuckle her seat belt. As the buckle released, the young woman began to fall to the side. “Grab her shoulders!” yells Brian to his assistant outside the plane.  Holding the young woman under her knees, Brian directed the limp body through the racked hole.  The young woman was cradled , as she was gently handed down to the third man reaching up from the ground to take the bundle.

  “Run!!!” the two men still mounted on the plane scream in unison to the man on the ground.

   Brian was trying to get to his feet while pulling himself out of the confining, now smoke filled cockpit.   The metal creaked as he slid off the sheet metal , joining the man who had already hit the ground and was staggering away from the plane.  Mud flew everywhere as the three men ran through the shallow, slimmy mess.

     Maneuvering and stumbling across the debris strewn runway, the three men reached the grassy area next to the terminal where three woman came running with green army surplus blankets.

    The limp, silent woman was laid onto a blanket stretched on the grass, and another blanket was placed over her.   The racket was so loud, that you could hardly hear “Please move aside, I am a Doctor.”  

     The scream of the fire truck blended with the blaring of  the sirens as the truck flew by the crowd, headed for the flaming wreckage.

  Brian stumbled back, bent over, coughing and feeling quezy. 

  “Are you okay?” asked an older man in a Bronco baseball cap.

  “I think so….where are the others?” asked Brian.

  “They are fine.  Come this way.”

   The blaring sound of the sirens was silenced.  Everyone’s ears rung from the loud sound.

   Brian looked up to see the faces of the two men that had accompanied him to the smoking wreck.  Tears were running down the face of the first smoke covered hero, and a blank stare came from the other.

   Without any direction, the three men stepped towards each other and threw there arms around each other.  They were alive.  They had done what they had to do.

    “I’m Brian, what are your names?”

    “I’m Pete…glad to meet you two.”

    “I’m Gary.  Seems like we have had a bit of excitement.”

    “We make one hell of a team.” said Brian as he shook Pete’s and Gary’s hands.

    “Dad! Dad!” Sam screamed as he ran towards his dad.

    “Sam, I would like you to meet Pete and Gary. This is my son Sam.”

    Pete grinned as he knelt down to whisper into Sam’s ear.  “Your father was truly a hero today young man.  You should be very proud.”

    A uniformed man tapped the shoulder of Brian and said “ The Doctor has her breathing.  She probably has a broken wrist, but he says she seems in pretty good shape…. Considering.  This young lady owes her life to you three.”

     In the distance the sound of the approaching ambulance rung through the air.

     The paramedics made their way to the young woman.  A policeman at the scene found the three heroes and took a statement. After a brief exam the young woman was loaded onto the gurney. 

     Brian, Pete and Gary accompanied by the officer made their way to the side of the young woman, who was now conscience.

    “Amy. Maybe you would like to meet your three guardian angles.  This is Brian, Pete and Gary.”

     Tears rolled down the bloody, smoke covered cheeks of Amy as she reached out her hand to them.

     “Thank you so much.  How can I ever repay you?”

     Gary stepped forward and said, “Just be well.”

      The paramedics loaded Amy into the ambulance and left the airfield. Brian, Pete and Gary stood and watched the ambulance disappear.

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