Flight of Horror

Flight of Horror

It was a warm day in the middle of January when 25 year old glider pilot. Nicholas Webber, was lifted off the ground in his small glider. The airplane would pull him up to a couple of thousand feet before dropping the strong rope that attached the airplane and glider together.

After the rope was disconnected he would start off in the direction of the small shire known as Crow's Nest. The trip was short and simple. Nicholas had glided on that route so much he knew it like the palm of his hand. From where Nicholas was he could see plenty of small farm dams but from this height they looked like little puddles.

As young Nicholas approached the half way mark of his journey, he could sense a change in the wind which he could tell was leading up to strong westerly winds.

A couple of minutes later, large grey clouds that resembled thick grey smoke from burning, dead, grass appeared as though from no-where. As the colour grew thicker, patches of green appeared in them that looked like salty ocean.

Then, suddenly as if from no where, an enormous flash of lightning burst over the darkened sky. It looked like a speeding meteorite burning up.

Immediately after the burst of lightning flash, before Nicholas could even think, a horrendous sound burst into the young pilot’s eardrums. It was the loudest thunder he had ever heard in his whole life. It sounded like an avalanche of rocks falling down a steep mountain cliff.

Nicholas sat in his seat shaking with fear, trying to control himself and the glider. Then, suddenly, a tremendous gust of wind turned the glider side ways. Nicholas was literally turned upside down, and his head slammed against the side of the cockpit.

Seconds later, Nicholas opened his eyes. The wind had calmed down. He was very glad he had not been knocked unconscious. Although in great pain, Nicholas knew he had to get back over  the control stick that guided the glider.

As he was inching toward the control stick, a bright flash cracked outside the glider’s front window. It took Nicholas just a second to realize that his small glider had been struck by lightning.

Nicholas got hold of the control stick and steadied the small aircraft to a smooth angle. He knew he might not make it out alive because he’d never glided through a storm before.

Nicholas wasn’t sure what to do so he tried the radio; "Mayday! Mayday! " he shouted. Then just as Nicholas was losing all hope a response came as great delight to him. "We read you loud and clear," said a man. "Now, can you tell us where you are?" the man asked.

Nicholas looked around a bit. There in the distance he could see the Crow’s Nest Show Grounds. He told the man where he was and this was the man’s response, "Okay, right next to the show grounds you’ll see a football field." Nicholas looked around some  more and sure enough, he spotted the football field.

"Yeah, I can see it in the distance!" called out Nicholas. Then the man asked how far he was from the football field and Nicholas told the man his estimate of about one and a half kilometers.

Then the man said in a stern voice, "Nicholas, I want you to land on the football field."

Shivers went up and down the pilot’s spine. "But it’s too short to land there and I’ll surely crash into the goal posts." Nicholas said with horror as the sweat dripped off his face.

The man replied to Nicholas, "You’ve got to, it you don’t you could be swept away by a strong wind or struck by lightening."

"Gone there, done that." Nicholas said under his voice. Then Nicholas looked around. He was almost above the football field. He could see the white of the try lineand the 10, 20, and 30 metre lines like the rib bones of a skeleton. Nicholas said to the man, "It’s now or never!" Nicholas pushed the control stick on the glider forward making the aircraft dive.

The man said to Nicholas, "I’ve called the emergency crew and they’re just arriving."

Nicholas said, "That’s reassuring."

He was surprised he could make a joke in a situation like this. Nicholas kept his hand on the control stick until he saw the silver pointed goal posts flash by. He hauled back on the joy stick as if he had to win this tug of war and eventually the small aircraft touched the ground just as Nicholas lost all his fear and nervousness.

He lost control of the aircraft. Nicholas was at the 20 metre line and approaching the halfway mark. Nicholas tried to regain control but the control stick wasn’t responding. "Help! Help!" he cried but he had lost radio contact.

Now Nicholas was in trouble, he was just passing the 50 metre line and he was heading straight toward the middle of the goal posts! There was no time to loose, Nicholas tried to open his door on the side of the glider but it wouldn’t move. Nicholas was now 30 metres from the goal post so he thought quick and kicked the glass in the window from out of his side door. Now 10 metres from the goal post Nicholas leaped out the window of the glider and fell to the ground with a thump.

He lifted us his head just in time to see the glider crash into the goal posts and destroy the whole aircraft. Nicholas was picked up by the ambulance men who found out that he had been injured on the head and had a cut arm. As the ambulance men put Nicholas in the car he joked, "Next time I think I’ll listen to the weather report."


Sam Vonhoff
Copyright, 1999.
All rights reserved.



Back to the Publication contents.          Back to top of page.      To next story or poem.
This page is part of the 'writing in highfields and crow's nest' creative writing and web publishing project funded with an International Year of Older Persons allocation  by Public Libraries Division of the State Library of Queensland  for Crow's Nest Shire District Libraries. Page design by Daryll Bellingham, storyteller.
Copyright of stories, poems, articles and photographs remains the property of the individual artists. All rights reserved.
Last update: 26th August, 2003.