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Authors: Christopher David Petersen

Hidden Courage (Atlantis) (6 page)

BOOK: Hidden Courage (Atlantis)
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DAY
6

 

Jack woke refreshed. He knew that the day’s flights would be stressful. Not as much as the previous day, but exhausting nonetheless. Checking the weather, he found clear skies and what appeared to be tailwinds all the way.

 

The first two legs of the day would take him back out over the
Pacific Ocean
again. They would be about three hours in length, two hours of it completely out of sight of land. The last leg would take him back over land and across three countries:
Columbia
,
Ecuador
and then into
Peru
. It was exciting to know that, by the day’s end, he would be in the country of his final destination.

 

Jack departed and headed south-east out over the ocean toward
Columbia
. Just as he thought, land fell out of sight about a half hour along the route. He would not see land again for another two hours. This was the kind of thing his parents worried about. He thought about them briefly. He missed his parents and promised himself that he would call them the next day when he arrived in
Lima
,
Peru
.

 

As he monitored the flight closely, he realized that the tailwinds were stronger than he anticipated. Instead of flying a ground speed of 90mph, he was traveling at a blistering pace of 120mph. This was essentially a thirty knot tailwind. With his faster ground speed, the flight would take only two and a half hours instead of three.

 

An hour and a half into the flight, Jack spotted land off his left wingtip. He could see the same rolling and mountainous jungles he’d been seeing for the past two days now.

 

“Man, I am so sick of seeing all this scary terrain. I can’t wait to fly again in
New England
. At least if I die in a crash there, they’d be able to find my body,” he joked to himself again.

 

An hour later he was on the ground in Bahia Solano,
Columbia
. He looked around at the broad leaf ferns and palm trees and admired the intense green color.

 

As expected, customs agents – armed soldiers, to be more precise - met him as he shut down. With paperwork in hand, he stepped out of the plane smiling and promptly handed it to them before they had a chance to ask. He could tell they appreciated this gesture and quickly conducted their business.

 

After finishing their inspection, they inquired about the nature of Jack’s visit.

 

“You plan on 'feeshing', señor?” an agent asked.

 

“Fishing?” Jack asked, confused by the agent’s broken English.

 

“Yes, senor, feeshing. I see floats. Are you feeshing?” he asked again.

 

“Climbing,” Jack responded.

 

The two agents broke off and discussed Jack’s answer. They seemed confused and continued their inquiry.

 

“What kind of feesh is this climbing?” the agent asked.

 

Jack laughed a moment, then caught himself. Not wanting to offend the two agents, he explained the purpose of his visit.

 

“No fishing... Mountain climbing. I'm flying to
Peru
to climb mountains,” Jack elaborated briefly.

 

“Montañas?
Peru
? Ay yi yi. Estás loco?” the agent said.

 

Jack heard the words 'montañas' and 'loco' and knew the agent was asking him if he was crazy for climbing.

 

Jack smiled a great smile, then simply shrugged his shoulders in quiet resignation.

 

“Well, señor, good luck,” the agent said, handing him back his paperwork.

 

Soon, Jack was back in the air, trying to take advantage of the tailwind as best he could. With this flight, he would be over water most of the route, but would be in sight of land nearly the entire time. As he flew, the
GPS
receivers were registering his ground speed at 123mph, even faster than the previous leg, and he would need every bit of it. This was the longer of the two legs, measuring about 320 miles. With his high ground speed, he would easily make it with plenty of gas reserves to spare.

 

As he looked out his window to his left, land could barely be seen. He was about ten to fifteen miles off shore. Two hours into the flight, the land was gone. Jack checked his ground speed to ensure he was still maintaining the necessary speed to make his destination. Nothing had changed so he continued on his route, feeling exhilarated by the ‘gift’ of the tailwind. A half hour later, he spotted land again off his left wingtip. Shortly thereafter, larger cities came into view. He could see oil tankers and skyscrapers around every bend in the shoreline. This was a bustling part of
Columbia
.

 

Jack touched down at La
Florida
airport in Tumaco,
Columbia
. Just as before, he was greeted by customs, refueled, ate a sandwich and departed.

 

The tailwind had abated some as he flew south over land. He could see city after city, large and bustling. They reminded him of
New York City
, a frequent destination for him in
New England
. He began to have a new perspective for this region of the world. All he had ever heard of
Columbia
was drugs and jungles. It was plain to see that they had much more to offer than that.

 

Jack crossed out into open water. At one point he lost sight of land, but shortly, up ahead, land reappeared on the horizon. Thirty minutes later, he was nearing the shores of
Talara
,
Peru
: his destination. The landscape had dramatically changed, though. Gone were the vibrant green jungles and in its place were the brown, dry desert plains. He could see rugged cliffs along the shore that fell off into flat rolling dunes.

 

He contacted the airport tower, who cleared him to land. Finding the airport, he made his standard left-handed landing pattern. He touched down and headed for the FBO on the field. Strangely enough, there were no customs agents waiting for him when he arrived.

 

He had completed his goals for the day and was tired. As he located the pilots’ lounge, he was pleasantly surprise at its condition.

 

“Wow, this is like the Ritz Carlton,” he said loudly. “Man, I’d have to give this an eight on a scale of one to ten. They even have a fridge. I don’t know if I can handle this kind luxury all at once,” he said, then added, “Oh well, I’ll just have to overcome.”

 

Jack tested the couch with his hands. It seemed new and very comfortable. Looking over at a workstation, the computer looked modern and high speed. He put his water bottle in the refrigerator, checked the weather, then called his parents on the phone in the room.

 

Jack called his parents collect. Upon hearing the operator’s voice, his mom excitedly accepted the charges.

 

“JACK! We miss you. Where are you? Are you safe? We’ve been worried sick about you,” his mom said in quick succession.

 

“Whoa, Mom, slow down. Everything’s fine. I’m at the airport in
Talara
,
Peru-

 

“You’re in
Peru
already? Did you have any trouble?” she asked, cutting Jack off in mid-sentence.

 

“Well, I was strip-searched and interrogated for a few days in
Honduras
, tazered and beaten in Guatamala, and spent a week in a jail in El Salvadore, but don’t worry. I made up for all that when I died in
Columbia
.”

 

“DIED?” Jack’s mom shouted out in shock.

 

“Mom, I’m joking. I’m not dead, for crying out loud.”

 

“Jack, when you get home, you’re grounded… for life. That stuff wasn’t funny.

 

“Mom, I’m twenty-one years old. You can’t ground me anymore.”

 

“Watch me,” she returned playfully.

 

Jack and his parents carried on for nearly a half hour as he detailed his flight down to
Peru
. With the worst of his flying behind him, he put their fears to rest. Eventually, with little else to discuss, they said their goodbyes and hung up.

 

Feeling satisfied, Jack hit the soft, comfortable couch and fell asleep.

 

 

 

DAY
7

 

“Excuse me, senor, but this room is for pilots only.”

 

Jack slowly opened his eyes. Standing over him were two airport security guards. As his mind started to comprehend, he rubbed his eyes to buy him some time to remember his ‘canned’ response.

 

“I understand,” Jack replied. “I am a pilot. I’m just waiting for the weather to improve to the south before I take off,” he said, while extending his pilot’s license for the two to see.

 

“Ah, si, senor. I will hope for your good weather,” one replied in poor English.

 

“Gracias,” Jack said, now wide awake.

 

As they left, he smiled to himself in satisfaction that his plan worked flawlessly. He would have to use it again in the future if anyone else questioned him. The only improvement on the plan would be to have his license out quicker next time.

 

Jack was excited. He was almost there. Today was the last day of flying. Yesterday’s tailwinds persisted nearly all day and now he would be able to fly the last three airports and make his final destination,
Junín
,
Peru
, one day early. He was actually happy the security guards woke him early. He would now get to Junín sooner, giving him that much more time to relax and rest up.

 

He checked the weather for the day. It was perfect: sunny and clear. The temperature would be around eighty degrees. He couldn’t wait to take off. He grabbed his water bottle from the refrigerator and headed out to the plane.

 

After completing a cursory inspection, checking the gas, oil and control surfaces, he hopped in and contacted the tower for instructions for departure. Ten minutes later, he was aloft and heading south-east, his next stop being
Trujillo
,
Peru
, about 300 miles away. The tailwinds of the previous day seemed to be holding, so he figured it would take him a little under three hours to fly.

 

Flying along the Peruvian coast, Jack was amazed by the landscape. Some of it was plains and other areas were mountainous, but all were brown, dry, desert land. It was beautiful to him. The green vegetated jungles of
Latin America
represented danger, but the desert coastline of South American meant safety to him. There was nothing hidden. If he had to land, he could easily find a place just about anywhere that would yield a safe landing.

 

The coastline was dotted with humanity. There were tiny fishing villages with reed fishing boats that lined the beaches, as well as huge cities bustling with modern life. Jack even found what appeared to be lush farming rectangles like the ones he saw in
New England
. This was a very diverse population, from businessmen to farmers to fishermen. This region was not unlike the
US
.

 

A little under three hours later and Jack could see the enormous city of
Trujillo
. It was bordered by farmland on the north, giving it a wonderful aesthetic transition. To the east and south, though, he could see jagged, dangerous-looking mountains.

 

Fortunately for Jack, the airport was situated near the farmland just on the edge of the shoreline. As he contacted the tower, they gave him vectors to the airport that brought him out over the ocean, then straight back into the airport, crossing over beautiful white beaches. It was one of the more exciting approaches he had made so far.

 

After landing, he made his way to the FBO, where he purchased fuel and some water bottles. He ate a sandwich and departed. His next stop would be
Lima
,
Peru
. It was a monster of a city, as viewed on the map. It was about 300 miles away, and with the tailwinds holding nicely he figured it would take him about three hours to fly.

BOOK: Hidden Courage (Atlantis)
2.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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