Chapter One – Certainty
If there was a better feeling he didn’t yet know it. His model Cessna moved with speed and precision across the morning sky. Andrew’s light touch on the joystick moved the plane into a high banking turn: his whole being tuned to the subtleties of aerodynamics and the joy of flight. This was as close and as far away as he could get.
Andrew moved his model plane toward the field. Landing the plane was the tricky part, as his rig didn’t allow him to cut the revs. Pitch and angle were everything. The plane came in full throttle as it landed bumping and jigging on the cut grass still holding its morning dew. The plane’s chassis glistened as the propeller engine hissed the moisture to steam. Andrew walked towards where the plane had come to rest and thought of his father.
His father Malcolm had been missing for ten days. Neither Malcolm nor his plane, a Cessna 208 Caravan aptly named “The Cargomaster”, had been located since he lost radio contact on a return flight from the copper mine at Mount Ismuss. State Search and Rescue, the Police and the Aviation Authority had mounted a combined search over an area covering 10,000 square miles. Not a trace had been found.
Andrew, his mother Deidre and his uncle Colin had gone to the airport every day where Search Command was situated. Malcolm was well known and well liked by the local community; many people had worked long hours and were not willing to give up hope. However, today was the day when the decision to scale back the search, would most likely be made. Andrew knew this. He had decided to let his mother and Colin go in without him.
The field where Andrew flew his model plane lay adjacent to Arkefield Airport. Arkefield is a small rural airport carrying commercial planes and an assortment of private jets and propeller planes. Local operators make regular flights to mining communities, outback stations and remote holiday destinations. The airfield also houses the Flying Doctor Service and a small freight and postal service. Andrew’s father and uncle are pilots who contract out to the local operators.
Andrew sat down beside his model plane and gazed skywards, his thoughts combed the clouds for answers, for clues, for ideas.
No discovery did not mean no hope. He knew his father would handle an emergency with the calm precision he was well known for. He pictured his dad going through emergency procedures, checking, double-checking, cross checking. Looking for answers, reading measurements, scanning dials and warning lights in rapid succession as he calculated and assessed all the available information: flying by the seat of his pants – feeling the aircraft.
He could see his dad making quick decisions and working the problem. His eyes glinting with determination, his brow creased in that telltale way as he fought a dying aircraft. He could hear his father’s voice; “you gotta work the problem kiddo, work the problem”. Andrew continued to work the problem. He knew that his dad’s Cessna Caravan was equipped with all the necessary safety equipment and it was possible for a pilot to bale given enough warning.
But as more clouds gathered no solution came. He was not despondent, however he was empty, empty of ideas. He tried to find a word that named this empty feeling. He pondered a while. Within the emptiness he found a word he was looking for. At first he found hope. As he looked further into the emptiness he found something more than hope, he discovered a sense of knowing. Suddenly Andrew leaped to his feet propelled by the internal force of an overwhelming realization. In that moment he knew something that no one else knew. He knew in the way of the deepest intuition that his father was alive.
He also knew to keep this realization to himself. There were missing pieces to this whole episode that needed investigation. He wondered how it was that not one trace had been found. He wondered how no tracking system had recorded the flight. He wondered about the published coordinates of the last radio contact. There were not only a lack of answers but it now occurred to him there had been a lack of questions from certain people critical to the rescue effort.
Andrew thought to himself how quickly he had moved from one state of being to another and tried to recall the catalyst to his epiphany. There’d been something in the clouds but the ephemeral shapes had long since moved and would not reveal their secret twice. What ever had visited him momentarily now drove his certainty. And with this certainty came the force of clear intention and single-minded resolve.
He would go to find his father.
Chapter Two - Next Month in the October Issue