Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 21:49:06 -0600
From: William Barnett-Lewis
This is from the Dec99/Jan00 issue of Air & Space magazine. It may seem OT, but there are a few adventure nuggets here...
"The two Air Force C-141 Starlifters were on their way to a rendezvous with a KC-135 tanker over central Oregon one day in the summer of 1998 when they heard a pilot calling Seattle Central to report that the engine of her Cessna Turbo 210 had failed. She said she was going down. The voice was calm, precise. Center was unaware of the Cessna pilot's dire circumstances because the light aircraft's transmissions were blocked by the foothills in the remote, forested area.As I said, several nuggets.
The Air Force pilots, reservists with the 446th Airlift Wing at McCord AFB in Washington, began relaying messages between the Cessna pilot and air traffic control. The woman gave her altitude and position; she knew she was too low to dead stick to any airport.
"I see a road - too many trees!" There were no more transmissions.
After alerting ATC, the transport pilots banked their huge aircraft and began a dash toward the Cessna's last reported position, about 100 miles away - 12 minutes by Starlifter. What they found there was a sea of green pines stretching forever. The two airplanes split, the crew in one searching north and the other south.
Presently, flight engineer Master Sergeant Todd "Buck" Murray tapped co-pilot Lieutenant Colonel Pete Buehn on the shoulder and pointed out the right side window at what appeared to be a white log. Command Pilot Captain Paul Parrinelli closed in for a better look. Bingo! A 210 buried among tall pines. There was no sign of fire. Or life.
The two transports began circling the Cessna, with the high one transmitting news of its find. Help would be on its way, but the crews were frustrated. Directly below was a pilot who, if alive, was probably hurt, possibly dying, and they could do nothing except watch.
Then off in the distance, they spotted a rooster tail of dust. They zoomed toward it to investigate, hoping it was a rescue team. But it was only a pickup truck galloping along one of several dirt and gravel logging roads that cut through the forest. As the truck drew closer, now tooling along a road that passed near the downed airplane, Parrinelli and Buehn had a quick strategy session.
Rod Holman, an alfalfa farmer, was taking a shortcut home through the Fremont National Forest when he spotted the C-141's crisscrossing the road up ahead. They were low. Way low. He slowed his Ford F250 so his wife and boys could take in the improbable airshow. Just then one of the grey behemoths roared overhead, so low the truck shook in the wake that then churned the tips of the surrounding pines. The aircraft pitched up and banked hard to the right.
"Holy smoke" uttered Holman. And then he spotted it. Over to the right, about a 150 feet in the forest, was an airplane jammed in among the trees. Holman stopped the truck, got out, and approached. At first he thought the thing was abandoned, but as he got closer he saw fresh blood all over the cockpit.
He looked inside, dreading what he would find. But there was Patty Burrell, shaken, but very much alive. In fact, apart from a head gash and some disorientation, the 69-year old instrument instructor was in remarkably good condition.
Just then the two Lockheeds roared by again, and in that instant Holman understood the purpose of the pilots wild performance: They had been using their giant aircraft as distress flags.
Burrell fully recovered from her injuries and replaced here wreaked 210 with a Cessna 182. Meanwhile, she and the Holman family were adopted as honorary members of the 446th. They celebrated their good fortune over an Air Force barbecue."
- William Garvey
|Live without fear; your Creator loves you as a mother.
Go in peace to follow the good road and may God's
blessing be with you always.