A Bed, a Jet and a Night to Forget

Don is a senior airline pilot currently employed with a major carrier in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.   Their fleet of nearly 100 modern jets provide service throughout North America, with plans to expand to other world wide destinations in the near future.  Don’s home base is situated on beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.  When he is not flying he loves to take advantage of the world class fishing opportunities that the west coast offers.

It is now mid January on Vancouver Island and the recent busy holiday flying season has come to an end.  Don is enjoying a few days off and has plans to go on a fishing trip with a few of his friends.  The weather has been pretty good lately with temperatures hovering around 5c with sunny skies.  But this time of year on the west coast, the weather could change drastically with very little warning.

“Fisherman Don”, as he likes to be called on his days off, packed up his truck with supplies for a few days.   He then confirmed with his buddies the time and place they would meet, so they could all head out together to his secret salmon fishing spot.  He thought to himself, “I just can’t wait to get back out on the ocean.”  It was now 6:15 am.  He locked up his house, jumped into his truck and began to drive away.  It was hard to tell which was brighter, the brilliant sun shining down from the blue sky or Fisherman Don’s mile wide smile and glittering white teeth!

Just then, his cell phone rang, and without checking to see who it was cheerfully answered, thinking it was one of his fishing buddies, “Hello, Fisherman Don Speaking.”  The serious voice on the other end then said, “Could I please speak to Pilot Don?”  “Sorry, this is Pilot Don, I thought you were one of my fishing friends?” said now Pilot Don.  The voice on the other end identified himself as one of the CEO’s of Don’s airline in Calgary.  There was an urgent request for Don to deliver a recently retired fleet passenger jet to Pinal Airpark, Pinal County, Arizona, USA.

After a jet liner has lived out its normal operating life service, it is usually stored in a dry climate to prevent rusting and deterioration.  These retired planes are sometimes used for spare parts or restored by private businesses or individuals.  This jet had clearance and a confirmed reservation at Pinal Airport but had to be delivered today.  It was currently being stored on Vancouver Island at Don’s Base Headquarters.

By now, Don had pulled over on the side of the road and took further details and instructions from the CEO in Calgary.  Being a reliable, dedicated employee Don then said, “Sure, no problem.  I will fly the tired old bird down south this afternoon.”  The voice on the other end said, “Thanks Don, we knew we could count on you!”  Don then hung up and thought for a few minutes.

Suddenly a great idea came into his head.  Why not take all my fishing buddies down to Arizona with me for a couple of days and soak up some sun and then go fishing when we get back.  He immediately got on his phone and contacted all his friends.  At first they were somewhat disappointed but then after hearing that it would be a free trip down and back to enjoy some warm temperatures and relaxation, they became excited about the opportunity.  Arrangements were made for everyone to meet at the airport at 1:00pm.

Don headed back home and unloaded his truck. He then looked over his flight charts and any new information concerning Pinal Airpark.  He packed a few things and then headed to the airport to do a pre-check of the jet aircraft that was to be taken to Arizona.

Upon arriving at the airport, he noticed maintenance crews working on the plane.  They had orders to strip some of the seats, furnishings, and other equipment from the plane before it departed.  They had been working on the plane for the past 3 weeks and would be finished later today.  After a brief conversation with them, Don went into the terminal and had lunch.  As he walked across the field he noticed a cool wind and the sky was beginning to get overcast.  It would be a few more hours before the crews would be finished.  Don glanced out the window and now could see a few tiny snow flakes falling.  He decided to call the weather station and get the latest reports for conditions from the airport to Arizona.

It was now 1:00 pm and his friends were arriving at the terminal.  Some had brought fresh Sushi to eat on the way, cool refreshing drinks and others brought some colourful summer lounge wear.  Everyone was in a festive mood, thinking in a few hours time they would be laying in the heat next to a swimming pool in Arizona.  Don looked a little worried after he hung up the phone talking to the weather office.  He then said to his friends, “Hey guys, there is a weather system moving in quickly with freezing temperatures and snow squalls, we have to take off soon to avoid it, ha, ha, but is hot and sunny where we are going.”

It was now 3:45pm and getting dark.  Light snow was beginning to fall and the wind had picked up to about 40 kph.  Don and his friends headed over to the plane and boarded.  The crew were now in the process of carrying out the last of the seats and unused equipment.  Luckily they left enough seats for Don’s friends up next to the cockpit.  Soon a tanker truck arrived and began filling the plane with jet fuel.

Don went outside and did a walk around ensuring all compartments were closed and secure.  He checked the tires and other parts of the plane.  Everything was in fair but used condition.  The plane had been sitting for about a month under tarps in an unused section of the airport.  There was always the possibility of rodents getting inside and causing damage to wiring or other components.

Don thought to himself, well old girl, just one more flight and landing and you are retired.  As Don was walking back up the stairs into the plane one of the workers yelled, “Hey Don, Sorry but we had to take out the stereo system and intercom, so no music!”  Then one of Don’s friends yelled back, “No problem, I brought my guitar, I will provide the entertainment, ha, ha, ha.”

Don then folded up the stairway, and closed the door.  He went into the cockpit to inspect the instruments and prepare for takeoff.  The fuel truck was now finished and drove off into the blowing snow and out of sight.  It was now 5:30 pm.  Then Don said, “Well boys, we are border line cleared to go, subject to weather conditions.”

Don started the engines and they purred like an old tired cat.  He did an instrument check and all appeared normal.  The tower confirmed his flight plan direct to Pinal Airpark and he was cleared to proceed to the button and hold at runway 12.  Don figured his flight time to Pinal would be about 4 hours.  He could hear his buddies behind him starting to sing a few songs, pop the caps off some wobbly pop and cheer as the jet engines roared!

Suddenly the control tower told Don to idle his engines down as there will be a short delay.  Evidently some deer were on the runway being chased by a few dogs.  Soon the airport security truck with its flashing lights appeared and attempted to clear the runway.  After about another 20 minute wait, the tower gave the all clear and permission to take off.  It was now just about 6:00pm and snowing hard.

Don engaged his de-icing equipment, set his other instruments, and provided full power to the throttle.  The plane rolled down the runway into the blowing snow and darkness, then lifted off gently and banked to the designated GPS navigation setting, bound for Pinal Airpark in Arizona.

“Hold on boys it is going to be a bumpy ride until we get out of this muck,” said Don.  The plane banked left and right, vibrated quite loud, hit the odd air pocket and dropped a few feet on occasion, but eventually obtained cruising altitude and things calmed down.  Don double checked the navigation instruments and confirmed he was on track for Pinal Airpark with an ETA of 3 hours 42 minutes.

plane21He breathed a sigh of relief as he leaned back in the pilots chair and loosened his seat belt. After about 20 minutes of flying he yelled back to his buddies, “Hey, is there any of that good sushi left?”  Within seconds a big plate of fresh sushi arrived next to him on the cabin floor.  He looked quickly over some charts and checked the on route weather.

Just before he reached down to take a piece of sushi, he radioed the weather advisory as his radar was picking up violent wind and snow squalls directly ahead of him.  Air traffic control advised him to set a different course around the disturbance and gave him new coordinates to enter into his computer to avoid the turbulence.  Soon the settings took control and the plane veered onto the new route.

Feeling somewhat better, he reached down to take a piece of his sushi.  “Hey, very funny guys, who ate my sushi?” yelled Don.  Just then he got a glimpse of a big, long, leather like tail scurrying under the floor instrument panel.  Oh great he thought, rats are on board, plus they ate my sushi!

He thought back over the past few weeks when the workers were stripping the plane of the non essential equipment, they probably left a door or hatch open. Suddenly all the cabin lights flickered and then went off and on quickly.  One of the guys yelled up to Don, “Hey, was that last call for the bar or what?”  Don didn’t answer and immediately began to scan all his instruments and warning lights. Something was wrong!  Ice was building up on the wings but the de-icer was indicating it was working fine.

Then a number of warning lights came on and the oxygen masks dropped down from the ceiling on all his friends.  Another voice yelled up to Don, “Hey Don, what’s with the oxygen masks?”  Again, Don never answered but continued to check all the instruments and settings.  Then a sickening smell of burning rubber was detected coming from the main instrument panel.

One of his friends poked his head into the cockpit and asked if everything was ok.  Don said, “Nope, we could be in trouble here, please sit down in your seat and do up your seat belt tight.”  It was quite evident now that the rats had damaged some wiring and as a result his instruments and radio were malfunctioning.

Don got on the radio and attempted to radio air traffic control to declare an emergency.  There was no answer, the radio was dead.  Then all the lights went off inside and outside the plane.  A small emergency lighting system took over and provided just enough light for Don to see his instrument panel.  All the navigation aids were now spinning out of control and Don had to manually take control of the plane.  Then he received a short text on his phone which stated he was entering into another violent weather system, change course now!

Before he could read the new coordinates to follow, a puff of smoke shot up to his face and temporarily blinded him and caused his phone to drop out of his hand.  His phone then slid down the cockpit floor and out into the darkened passenger area.  Don felt now his only chance was to fly using compass bearings, descend and attempt to fly visually.

The ice build up on the wings were causing problems steering as the ailerons were becoming frozen and hard to move.  His only hope now was to have his friends retrieve his phone and he might be able to obtain his position via the gps app and send out a mayday call.  He yelled back to his friends to look for his phone.  After about 10 minutes one of his buddies yelled, “I got it, I got it.” and he ran to the cockpit area and handed it to Don.

Don managed to activate the gps and to his surprise he was about 150 miles west of Tofino, BC, way off course!  His navigation instruments must have been malfunctioning since take off.  He then attempted to contact Air Traffic Control anywhere to report his emergency but he couldn’t get any reply.  The only good news was he was over the ocean and clear of any mountains.

Suddenly everything went all quiet except for the whistle of air as the plane descended.  Both engines somehow stopped and he couldn’t re-start them again.  He now began to make wide turns as he lost altitude over the ocean.  He yelled back to his friends to put on their lifejackets that were stored under the seats.  Except when they looked, there were no lifejackets.  The crew who cleaned out the plane must have taken them out along with all the other stuff.

Don continued to circle and lose altitude and was preparing to ditch into the ocean.  His only hope was that the plane would float long enough for rescue crews to arrive.  There was no guarantee anyone obtained his position or plea for help as he was out of range for his cell phone now.  His only other hope would be the emergency transmitter and black box located in the tail section of the plane.  His altimeter appeared to still be working and indicated 1000 feet and dropping fast.

He yelled back to his friends to get into their seats, buckle up, put their head between their legs and hold on tight.  Don also made his seat belt as tight as he could.  As Don peered out the window it was total darkness, except for the blowing snow and fog.  He levelled out at 100 feet then put on full flap and attempted to side slip gently down to slow even more, then he saw large waves and white caps on the ocean.

He then attempted a belly landing on the ocean.  For the next 30 seconds everything was deathly silent.  Then, BANG, he hit the ocean and skimmed across it like a surf board for about a minute before coming to a stop.

He yelled back to his friends, “Everyone ok?”  They all yelled back, “Yep, we are fine.  Great Flying Don!!!” as they gave him a round of applause, feeling relieved they were all alive, at least for now.

The plane appeared to float pretty well as it rocked a bit up and down in the ocean but other wise was stable.  Don got out of his chair and joined his friends in the passenger section.  They all looked out windows.  They could see nothing but blowing snow and fog. The wind howled loud and waves smashed up against the plane.

Even if a mayday call was received it would be impossible to perform a rescue in these conditions.  All of their cell phone batteries were slowly going dead as they all had been using them as flashlights for the last hour due to the power outage on the plane.

“How long do you think the plane will float in these conditions Don?” asked one of his friends.  “I am not sure but probably maybe an hour,” said a worried Don.  Just then a flood of water poured down the aisle of the plane soaking everyone’s feet.

“Oh, oh!  One or more of the cargo doors must have come off during our landing on the ocean and now water is leaking into the plane!” said Don.  Don walked over to one of the emergency exit doors over the wing and opened it.  A huge wave splashed into his face causing him to fall back into the plane.  His friends helped him back onto his feet and they all looked outside.

It was a snowy blizzard with zero visibility out there.  Don closed the door.  Then he quietly said, “Well guys, the procedure is, once the plane fills with water, we exit out this door onto the wing, wait and hope that help arrives or else!”  No one said a word, but just looked at each other with no expression on their faces.

Then one of the friends asked, “Is there no life raft on board?”  Don said, “No, as we were to be flying over land the majority of the way to Arizona, none was required.”  Then without warning a few side windows smashed open from some flying debris and more water rushed into the interior of the plane.  Now the plane was listing heavily to one side.

Remnants of the sushi party are now seen floating down the aisle followed by a guitar and bottle of suntan lotion.  A lone rat is heard fluttering under the co pilot’s seat, then there is silence.  The cockpit is now full of water and Don and his friends are preparing to exit outside onto the wing, as they are now standing in knee deep cold sea water.  They all hug each other, nothing is said.

They put on what warm clothes they do have.  Don opens one of the overhead storage compartments and pulls out a couple of Airline Special Tartan Blankets.  He wraps them around his friends then opens the emergency door over the wing.  Just prior to everyone exiting, Don looked at his friends who are now shaking and scared, and says, “It’s important to weigh all the good times with the bad times.  Reflect on the blessings.  Good luck to us all, Think Positive!”

They all exit the plane and are now standing on the wing as it moves up and down in and out of the churning ocean.  The plane now sinks lower and Don and his friends hold on to each other and are now ankle deep in icy water as the snow continues to blow into their faces.  They are now all shaking as hyperthermia and shock rapidly takes the toll on each of them.

One of Don’s friends suddenly slips on the icy wing and falls into the water and goes out of sight.  Without hesitation Don dives into the frigid waters and pulls him to the surface and back up onto the wing, with the assistance of the other friends.  Now Don and the friend are completely soaked and semi delirious, shaking uncontrollably. Don thinks to himself, when I said I can’t wait to get back out on the ocean, I didn’t mean like this.

The time now is about 10:00 pm.  Don and his friends should have arrived at the Pinal Airpark and be relaxing by some swimming pool, sipping on a cool drink.  Instead they are huddled together on an airplane wing 150 miles off shore in a freezing blizzard.

Mean while back in Campbell River, BC, Canada, two of Don’s other younger friends, Hannah and Kayley, are fast asleep in bed.  The wind and snow is also blowing hard in Campbell River and it wakes Kayley up.  She opens her eyes and wanders out to the kitchen to get a drink of water.  As she passed the living room she noticed her mom forgot to turn the TV off.  She had her drink of water and was about to turn the TV off when a news report came on about a jet aircraft that was missing and presumed ditched in the ocean about 150 miles west of Tofino.

Due to extreme weather conditions no search efforts could be made until the weather improves, which would not be until sometime tomorrow or later.  The plane was on a flight from Vancouver Island to Arizona.  Suddenly Kayley felt sick to her stomach as her good friend Don mentioned that his fishing trip got cancelled because he had to fly an older jet to Arizona today.

Kayley ran into Hannah’s bedroom and shook her until she woke up.  “Hannah, Don’s plane crashed into the ocean, we have to go save him now!” said Kayley. “What the heck are you talking about Kayley?” asked sleepy Hannah.  “I just saw it on the news, I am sure it was Don’s plane.  Do you think you can make your new bunk bed fly like you did with your other bed?  Remember we flew to all those far away places and even to the moon once.

“I’m not sure; I’ve never tried flying my bunk bed.  Where is Don’s plane supposed to have crashed?” asked Hannah.  “About 150 miles west of Tofino.” said Kayley.

“Wooh…Gee!..a long ways out and in this snow storm and dead of night it will be a real challenge” Hannah said.  “Okay, let’s give it a try.  Make sure Mom is sleeping, then grab some warm blankets, quickly make some hot drinks and put them in a thermos to keep them warm and then I will see if I can make this thing fly like I did before in my other bed.  Put on some warm clothes as it will be a cool flight!” Hannah said in an excited but quiet voice.

Kayley did what Hannah wanted and they both could hear their mom sleeping soundly in bed.  They secured everything in the lower bunk and both of them jumped up to the top bunk.  Then they leaned back, clenched their fists, raised their legs and suddenly their bed floated up and passed through the house wall and out into the snow storm.

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Hannah told Kayley to snuggle down and keep warm as she would be required to assist with the rescue if and when they find Don’s plane.

After about 45 minutes flying through the storm Hannah sensed she must be close, as her onboard instruments detected a large metal object floating barely above the water. It is difficult to see in the blinding snow storm so she slows down and flies only a few feet above the ocean.

Mean while, Don and his friends are deep in water, still hanging on to each other now on top of the plane.  Both wings are under water.  They are about to let go and give in to their cruel ocean fatal fate.  Then Don squints through his quivering frozen eyes and gets a glimpse of a strange ghostly image approaching them out of the fog.  It appears to be a flying bunk bed with two young girls on the top bunk dressed in parkas.  He shakes his head in disbelief thinking he is dreaming or hallucinating?

bed-to-the-rescue

Miraculously Hannah finds the sinking plane and the survivors on top of the plane!  She flies right up close to them carefully as the wind and snow pelt against her bed knocking it sideways and up and down.  The survivors are motionless, in shock and incoherent.  Kayley slides down to the bottom bunk of the bed and helps each of them onto the bed one by one, as Hannah steadies the bed in the gale force winds.  Last person in was Don.  He faintly muttered, “Are all my passengers safe?”  “Yes,” said Kayley as she wrapped warm blankets around Don and his friends, then fed them warm drinks.

Hannah yelled down from the top bunk to Kayley, “Everyone accounted for and on board?”  Kayley yelled back, “Yup, cold but happy to be alive, lets get out of here!”

Hannah leaned back, clenched her fists, raised her feet and the bunk bed accelerated quickly above the ocean through the snow and fog, en-route to Tofino.  Hannah checked her charts and onboard computer and programmed it to land at the Tofino Hospital as soon as possible, so Don and his friends could receive emergency medical treatment.

About 20 minutes later, Hannah slowed her bed down and began her descent cautiously through the dense fog.  It had stopped snowing now but heavy rain and wind made her landing difficult.  She located the hospital but couldn’t find a safe landing spot right away.  She circled lower and lower in amongst some big trees and power lines.  Finally she saw an opening in front of the main doors to the hospital and decided it was the best place to land.

Her bed flying skills were superb as she gently glided her bed onto the asphalt surface right outside the hospital.  The second the bed touched down Don rolled out and helped his friends out of the bed.  One of the Tartan blankets was so heavy with snow and ice it fell off the shoulders of one of Don’s friends as he stumbled into the hospital.  They were all shaking and still delirious but happy to be alive.

They were immediately met just inside the doors by hospital staff that tended to them right away.  Now seeing that Don and all his friends were in good medical care, Hannah and Kayley thought it best to head back home as soon as possible to avoid any questions from the hospital staff or other authorities.

Kayley picked up the soggy Tartan blanket off the ground, tossed it in the bottom bunk then jumped back up on the top bunk with Hannah for take off.  Just prior to lifting off they saw Don peer through the hospital window with a bit of a smile on his face and give the girls a big “Thumbs Up” gesture.  Hannah and Kayley then waved back and accelerated quickly up into the pouring rain and fog.

Hannah set a course back to Campbell River, BC.  About 30 minutes later she popped through the clouds just west of Courtenay, BC and then set a final course to her house in Campbell River.  The rain and snow had stopped but the winds were still quite gusty, bouncing her bed around.  Visibility was bad as an ocean fog was hampering her approach.  She then followed the inland highway northbound, made a couple of turns, located her house and slowly glided back into her bedroom.

“Wow, great flying Hannah!” said Kayley as they clanked their water bottles together.

20sssThen Kayley went back to her bedroom.  Hannah said, “I hope Don and his friends will be ok?”  Hannah then took the soaking wet blankets off her bed and put them in the dryer, got some new ones and quickly made her bed all neat again.  There were pools of water on the bedroom floor from the bed and she tried to wipe them up.  Then she rolled into bed and fell fast asleep.  It was now early Saturday morning.

At about 9:00am Hannah’s mom came into her room and slipped on a pool of water on the floor.  “Yikes,” she screamed.  “How did this water get all over the floor Hannah?” she inquired.

The loud scream woke Hannah up and she looked at her mom from under the covers of her bed.  “Gee, I don’t know, maybe a leak in the roof or someone left the window open?” muttered Hannah.

“Pretty strange” said Hannah’s mom as she wiped it up with a towel.  She then walked down to wake up Kayley.  “Time to get up Kayley, looks like that snow storm last night is gone and the weather is clearing up, I’ll just throw this wet towel in the dryer and then make some breakfast.” said Kayley’s mom as she walked into the laundry room and over to the dryer.

“Holy Crow! now what is this in the dryer, a big beautiful soggy Tartan Blanket, oh with an Airline Logo on it.  How the heck did that get there?  Girls?  Girls?  Something strange is going on?”

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Both Hannah and Kayley hid under their covers and pretended they were sleeping.  Hannah’s mom then walked into the kitchen, turned on the radio and began to make breakfast.  Just as she was mixing up some good apple, cinnamon pancakes, the news came on.

She stopped mixing and listened when the announcer said, “Breaking News! A large jet airliner crashed into the ocean about 150 miles west of Tofino last night with a pilot and 6 passengers.  Evidently it was headed for Arizona to be retired at Pinal Airpark, but due to extreme weather conditions, mechanical and electrical problems, it veered off course and ditched in the ocean.  Surprisingly all 7 people were rescued and taken to Tofino Hospital for treatment and are now in stable condition.

Mystery surrounds this rescue as the survivors tell different stories with regards as to how they were taken off the sinking plane and transported to the hospital.  Stories range from being picked up by a fishing boat, paddling in a life boat, picked up by a seaplane to being transported by two young girls in a flying bunk bed!,  How crazy is that?  Due to the survivors ordeal in the icy water and near death experience it is understandable they were hallucinating about their rescue.  Regardless, they were rescued and all are expected to make a full recovery.  Now back to your Saturday Morning Music Programming”

“Wow, I wonder how the pilot and passengers really got rescued, it would have been impossible for any boat or plane to help them, let alone find them in that violent snow blizzard out there last night,” said Hannah’s mom as she continued to mix the pancake batter.

Just then Hannah and Kayley walked into the kitchen and gave their mom a good morning hug and went and sat down at the table to wait for their breakfast.  Hannah’s mom then said, “A big jet airliner crashed into the ocean up by Tofino last night, but all the passengers and pilot got rescued and taken to the  Tofino Hospital and are now in stable condition.  Strange thing is no one knows who rescued them or who brought them to the hospital?”

“That is very strange” said Kayley as she ate a couple of good pancakes with a mischievous grin.  “The weather was real bad down here too, it was a long flight last night in my bed.” said Hannah.  “What did you say Hannah, long flight last night in your bed?” asked her mom

“Oh, no, I said it was a long night last night in my bed, you know with the wind and snow pelting against my window, keeping me awake.” said Hannah with a devilish grin.

“Pass the pancakes please Kayley,” Hannah asked politely.

~~~~

Message to my Readers

 

For more Flying Bed Adventures please check out, The Magical Flying Bed, Windy Winnie, Our Moon Adventure and Bareback Medivac on my website.

www.mountaindwellertunesandtales.com

Thank You, for reading my books.

Sincerely,

 

Steve Romanik