P. Edronkin

Aeronautical Survival: Do Witches Exist After All?



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My first solo flight happened all of a sudden; my instructor and I climbed on our aeroplane, we taxied to the proper runway and then he left the plane and told me to go on.

More surprised than anything else, I applied full throttle, the taildragger lifted its tail, and soon I was flying without trouble; then, at about 550 feet AGL I started my turn on the circuit as at about 1.000 metres straight ahead, a Beechcraft Bonanza with an Uruguayan number passed by.

For those who fly, my assignment was to fly normal circuits; for those who don't fly, this means taking off, turning 180 degrees soon afterwards, flying a parallel course to the runway at 1.000 ft above the ground, and then climb down while turning and descending at the same time until you reach the runway.

As I was on final, approaching to land right at the numbers, I saw some stones left; it seems that the day before, the runway was rented for a little car racing, and they seemed to forget some of their 'property' there.

I was the first user of that runway during the day after, and after 'thanking' whoever left those there, and remembering that an Air France Concorde crashed after hitting such an object a couple of years before, during its take off run, I kept on gliding instead of flaring immediately, and surpassed that first obstacle with relative ease.

Then, as this was really a touch-and-go instead of a proper landing, I applied again full throttle, and as I was about to rotate, two dogs made a runway incursion. Luckily I was already running fast and the aeroplane jumped into the sky while I gave a little left rudder to avoid hitting the dogs that chose to sit right at the dashed line.

As I completed the second circuit, the wind made - of course - an unexpected rotation and soon enough I was enjoying a tailwind on my PA-11, while the rocks down in the runway started waving and saying hi! closer and closer.

Needless to say, I had to make this landing a long one, and the little plane didn't want to stop anytime soon.

Finally it did, but the next day, as I took off, the tachometer began marking 2.200 RPM, which is correct, but as I was about 100 ft above the runway, soon after takeoff, it abruptly went down.

When it reached 2.000 RPM I decided to abort; this means cutting off power, adopting a nose-down attitude with your aircraft, cutting gas and landing, all in a fraction of a second.

My instructor told me later that the Bonanza with an Uruguayan number is owned by Mr. Carlos Menem, Argentina's former president, hatred by the vast majority of the country's inhabitants; I can't confirm that fact, but indeed, Uruguay is a fiscal paradise and Mr. Menem and his family already showed such a behaviour with their aircraft: his son's helicopter didn't have an Argentina number either, when it crashed and killed him in dubious circumstances. The Beechcraft Bonanza, on the other hand, is an expensive and very nice plane.

This would not be the first case in which this man made use of fiscal heavens: courts in Switzerland have demonstrated that the former president of Argentina has there a number of bank accounts as well.

But, if enough is not enough, then consider that as I write this my flight simulator is running, and the engine of the simulated aircraft also began to fail.

The odds of suffering just once a serious engine trouble are very small; I know some pilots who have thousands of logged flight hours and never had any such problem, and much less during takeoff, which is one of the worst-case scenarios that a pilot could imagine.

If you are afraid to fly, think that such an emergency, shortly after you took off means that the pilot should dive the aircraft back in the ground while flying very low and with no power, and then level it off on time to make a landing instead of just hitting the ground.

Almost everyone in Argentina knows that Mr. Menem is a bad omen (kind of an urban legend, I guess); really, it seems that the guy brings bad luck with him: believe it or not, people have died, others have lost their hands - literally -, suffered accidents and the like after meeting or shaking off hands with him, and my own experience of a close encounter with this entity seems to confirm the fact.

I don't believe in witches, but certainly there are some, somewhere.




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