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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: See (07/22/10)

By mick dawson


I did the final inspection of my plane, running my hands over the smooth contours of the glistening plywood. For the most part, the fuselage had been lacquered, preserving the natural wood grain. I love timber construction in anything and therefore most of my furniture is made of wood, but to witness it displayed in such a beautiful aircraft…

It had many other markings, such as white around the tail, and a collage of green and purple on both wings. There was of course, the Prussian cross on fuselage, wings, and tail. I couldn’t understand how these DIIIs were any better, than the DII Albatrosses. It was the same snub nosed bullet shape. As far as I could tell, it had a water cooled Mercedes engine, like my old plane with the exhaust port jutting through the top wing and the same Spandau machine guns.

I slipped on my leather coat, and headgear, climbed into the cockpit, and gave the thumbs up signal for one of the ground crew to pull on my propeller. It stared immediately with little smoke. I feathered the throttle up and down. To my delight, the wings vibrated noticeably less than my last aircraft.

My mechanic sat on the lower wing to either give me last minute advice or answer any questions I might have. Curiosity got the better of me. I had to ask how it was different.

‘Es hat eine größere motor hauptmann. Finden sie, daß es ist schneller und klettert höher als ihre alten flugzeug!’ He shouted above the drone.

Ah, the engine was bigger, so it could go faster and climb higher.

I waved him off and pulled back on the throttle. The grass strip all but whirled past me in my peripheral vision. The ground dropped cleanly below me and all that filled my senses now was the deep blue of a cloudless sky. I tilted back the stick and reefed on the throttle, eager to see how she climbed. I twisted my head, back along the fuselage which gleamed like glass in the sun. The dots on the airfield looked up at me, swiftly disappearing into the landscape.

The needle on the altimeter registered that I was climbing at a rate of nearly 900 feet per minute.

‘Wonderbar!’ I exclaimed, laughing into the wind.

Now let us see how high you go.

My knuckles whitened, even though the throttle would go back no further. The engine began to strain as she hung suspended by her propeller.

‘Come on my little girl,’ I whispered.

My Albatross bobbed, and fell away, now aimed at the ground. A glance at the altimeter read 18,000 feet. I could not have been more proud. Oh how I loved her already. I smiled as the ground raced up to meet me, confident that she would dive as well as she reached the heavens. Something knocked; it wasn’t the engine. The wings began to shudder near the right spar. I levelled out. It seemed she was no good in a prolonged dive.

‘That’s alright,’ I said, patting the fuselage.

I would have to notify my mechanic of the flaw when I landed.

A long, drawn out whine, built in pitch, becoming the air raid alarm. I banked steeply. The planes of Jasta 11 were taxying onto the airstrip. I then barrel rolled and scanned around me. A cloud of black dots were approaching, resembling a swarm of mosquitoes. I only had to circle back once and I would have the support of my Jasta. Most of the time the RAF spotted us before we located them. High command has ordered me to camouflage my planes, but I have refused. To suggest that I, Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen, should hide from my enemy! I wave at the newly arrived planes bobbing at either side of me. That is why they are all checked, striped and gaily coloured. Mine too is as gaudily painted in green and purple, but I think I will have my next plane painted red.

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This article has been read 700 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Caitlyn Meissner07/30/10
Interesting viewpoint for a story. I enjoyed it. :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/31/10
Although some of the technical talk was over my head, I had a feeling I knew who the narrator was and that propelled me through until I was enthralled with the excitement of the dive. I then smiled with satisfaction when I discovered it was the Bloody Red baron of Germany. (of course the mechanic speaking in German was a big clue too)I found myself really enjoying something that I might not normally read.
AnneRene' Capp07/31/10
Not being an avid "height" lover, this had me on the edge of my seat. :) I truly thought the pilot was a gonner when the plane went into that prolonged dive. It was fun seeing this through the pilots eyes.
Brenda Shipman 08/01/10
You definitely had me "in the moment" with this intriquing historical character. Great description in this piece.
Lollie Hofer08/02/10
I enjoyed this brief glimpse into history. Interesting angle for this week's topic.
Lisha Hunnicutt08/02/10
Very engaging piece. The techincal talk was a bit over my head as well, but that didn't keep me from reading on. I actuall thought, "Wow! This writer myust really know planes." I think the technical language made the character seem more realistic. Well done!
Genia Gilbert08/02/10
Quite interesting, and the technical talk which I didn't understand never got dull nor kept me from reading it through! Good job.
Lyn Churchyard08/03/10
Another great story. I loved the descriptions of the climb and then the dive. Well done.
stanley Bednarz08/03/10
The ease at which you put us in the cockpit, as if this is your life. As if you are at ease with both flying and writing?