“A quiet flight would be nice” that’s what Steve said to his wife as he left for work that morning. "But a quiet flight would be really great he thought," and so far it had been.
Today’s flight was a short one, only Miami to Newark and wasn’t going to take more than about four hours, which was fine with him. It meant he’d do the return trip and be back for dinner tonight.
“Weather’s clear all the way boss” Mike, his co-pilot was just as glad for the easy trip. “I might even get a round of golf in when we get back” he looked over at Steve as if to ask “you interested?”
“Would be nice” Steve adjusted the radio as they changed from Atlanta traffic control to Newark. “Kind of got an important date though, know what I mean” he gave a cheeky grin.
Just then a head popped around the door. Melissa the one attendant on board asked “can I get you boys a coffee?”
“Usual” the words came out so close together she heard as if it was one voice. The three of them had been flying together for six months and they’d gotten to know each other’s habits pretty well.
Melissa headed back into the cabin. All of a sudden there was a large bang followed by violent shuddering, just as if they were on a wet dog trying to shake itself dry, both lunged for the controls.
“I have control” Steve almost screamed as he lunged for the joystick ”any ideas what that was?”
“Power loss in number two engine” Mike was reading the gauges. “Looks like a fire”
“What” he didn’t have time to think, warnings were going off all over the cockpit, lights were flashing telling them they were slowing dangerously and losing height. He’d already activated the seatbelt button, he knew the worry that would be back in the cabin, but he didn’t have time for that yet.
“Shut down two” he gave the order, both knew what needed to happen, but there was a drill for it. He waited to hear Mike confirm that he’d shut down number two engine before opening the throttle on number one. “Increasing number one.” Within seconds they could hear the pitch of the propellers on the port side, they were at maximum.
“Mayday mayday mayday” Mike was already on the radio “Newark, this is flight Alpha Zulu 291. We are thirty miles south of your location; we have lost all avionics and possible damage to one engine, over”
“What the heck did we hit?” Steve was running through the instruments, only the non electronic ones seemed to be working, he still had the artificial horizon the compass and most of the controls, but the wayfinder and GPS were fried!
“Roger 291” the voice came back. “What assistance do you require?” might sound the dumbest question, but they knew the Air Traffic Control was trying to work out how bad it was, could they still land the plane?
“Newark tower” Steve spoke slowly and clearly, “we have hydraulics and controls, but have lost avionics, you’ll need to guide us in, over”.
“Roger that 291, turn bearing 020 and descend to 5,000 feet, over”
“Roger Newark’ no point in arguing, they had twelve passengers, they had to trust Newark knew what to do, like it or not they were committed now, they couldn’t trust to make it back, and even then they still had the same problem. “Bearing 020, descending now”
Less than five minutes later they levelled off and waited for instructions. They didn’t wait long “291 this is Newark tower over”
“Go ahead Newark”
“Newark, our lights are on, you should be approaching runway three, all traffic is clear, you are clear for emergency landing, over.”
“Roger that Newark, be advised we’ve got fried electronics here” they had no way of monitoring their rate of descent.
“We know that 291, We’ve rigged a landing light that should help you with that, find the light and stay in the green all the way down, you’ll be fine, but be advised, lower you landing gear as soon as you pick up the light, over”
They looked at each other, knowing each other’s thoughts, “that’s a HLS system they’re trying, good for helicopters, but I sure hope they know what they’re doing!”
Slowly Steve reached for the intercom; he paused and looked at Mike, “Like we have a choice! Let’s get on with it.”
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