Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Plane Stupid

Training wasn't going well. It was two weeks to go to the race and I was nowhere near fit. I decided to give the new running shoes a try out and see if they made me go any faster.

It was a cold, dank morning. There was a slight covering of snow and a fog as thick as anything I'd seen since living in Leeds.

I turned right up the road and then left onto the old airbase. It was a scary place at the best of times. The transmitter and receiver aerials stood like huge metal skeletons looking down on the remains of the barracks, still haunted by the ghosts of a thousand servicemen.
Only the old control tower was still used, by a few dozen remarkably laid back GIs, there to monitor signals from far off hostile nations. Other than them, and several hundred sheep, I was alone.

I followed my usual route round the perimeter runway, past the blast bays where fighter planes once stood tethered, ready for war.
After almost a complete circuit, I turned back up a runway towards the control tower. I waved at the guys in the control tower and turned back at an acute angle along the main runway towards the gate.

Behind me, I heard the low throb of an engine – maybe a passing helicopter. The base had long since ceased to be active. The throb got louder and closer – a light plane looking for somewhere to make an emergency landing?

Almost unconsciously, and pointlessly, I increased my pace. The noise got louder – it was directly behind me and heading towards me. I recognised it not as the high pitched drone of a light aircraft, but the deep throb of powerful propeller engines.

The noise turned to a deafening roar. I sprinted to the edge of the runway and threw myself on the grass, rolling over and covering my head. As I looked up I saw the belly of a huge cargo plane with its wheels down, close enough to feel the downdraft of the propellers.

I waited for the impact.

There was none. The roar turned to a growl, and gradually grew fainter as the plane disappeared into the distance.

I was covered in mud and sheep shit. I picked myself up, jogged home and had a shower.

I told the wife and kids what happened. I told my mates what happened. They all laughed at me. I scoured the TV channels and the internet for anything I could find to back up my story.

Nothing. Still wonder about it to this day.


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