Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 181

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 181

…Goldwyn the Junior relates his father’s stories often, “like when he was told that he couldn’t make a movie about lesbians he said…

“That was quite a show Ajax Bannion.” The man does have the flair for the dramatic, as Constance notes. “We caught the whole thing on film.”

He looks at her sideways, inaudibly wondering who the guy with camera is, but passes on bothering to question Connie’s curious ways.

But she cannot help but comment, “A lot of good that CAA inspection did you.”

“I’ll meet you in the terminal, CC,” he will deal with potential plots of ill intent, after he decompresses.

“That would be our out cue, Cassandra,” Goldwyn is not very good at names.

“Let me play director now. One more time with feeling; it’s Constance Caraway, not Cassandra Coriander, although I may use that as an alias someday,” she makes allowances for her hasty initial introduction, not to mention that he cannot be more than 25 years old. “I am with Constance Caraway Investigation and the pilot of that plane is a close friend of mine.”

She hands him one of her business cards.

“Tallahassee Florida, cool beans. Hey thanks for the tip, fantastic footage. It would cost a fortune to stage that for a movie,” ever enterprising, Goldwyn Jr. will put his footage to good use. The Blue Ridge Angel, this must be a private plane?”

“Yes, it is the official plane for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and his worldwide Crusades.”

“Did I hear my name?” asks the aforementioned man himself. “Are you a filmmaker young man, I see your fancy camera there?”

“It is a privilege to meet you Mr. Graham, my father is a huge fan of your work, he even was at your Los Angeles meeting… and he never has been inside a church.”

“Your father is?”

“Samuel Goldwyn.”

“No kidding. I’m a big fan of his work, Metro Goldwyn Mayer I believe. He does say the craziest things.”

“He is known for his malapropisms,” Junior relates Senior’s stories often, “like when he was told that he couldn’t make a movie about lesbians he said,That’s alright, we’ll call them Hungarians’.

Oops. Young Goldwyn has accidently stepped into tabooed doo doo.


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 180

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 180

… P.I. Caraway and Hollywood Goldwyn have hijacked a baggage tow and sprinted through the muddy grass to the crippled plane…

After the smoke clears from around the 27,393 pounds of steel and aluminum, loaded with Crusade props and Jesus freaks, pilot Ace and the other everything are still in one piece. His copilot is passed out and the navigator is face down on the cockpit deck, so he climbs over debris to check on his human cargo.  He finds the good Reverend is already checking on everyone, as is the registered nurse who is in the crusades’ employ.

Happy

The newest member of the revival staff, Willard Libby gives Billy a wave, unable to shake the thought that he brought the trouble with him, like the other improbable events over the past 4 months.

And other than a few loose wits and several severed nerves, the truly injured have but minor issues, none life-threatening.

“Normally I consider applause as inappropriate, but this ain’t Sunday and we ain’t in church!” He raises his hands to God in praise and directs the passengers in very appropriate hand-to-hand (raucous) appreciation.

The ever modest Ace takes a bow while opening the boarding door. There are airport bowpersonnel down on the ground, but they have no way of off-loading the people, seeing they are nosed out into a city street. They need to wait for the ambulances and shuttle buses to make their way, down 63rd Street, then up Central to nearly 55th.

One face, in the concerned throng below, is a familiar one; Constance Caraway is there with arms weighed down by blankets for those in need, but her spirits lifted high by answered prayer. She and Samuel Goldwyn the junior have hijacked a baggage tow and sprinted through the muddy grass to the crippled plane. The neophyte film producer has captured the entire calamity on film and now sets up his equipment for the aftermath.

She is among the first up the stair/ramp when it is placed roughly against the tilted fuselage, protocol be damned, “Excuse me, can I get through with these blankets?”

“You heard the lady,” Captain Bannion is coordinating the unloading of Crusade people, each according to their ambulatory status. At second blush, there are more serious injuries than previously reported, most likely because, to a man and woman, were plain grateful to have survived at all; never mind that sore shoulder or stiff leg.


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 179

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 179

…”Okay, Miss Coriander, I’m ready to roll.” Right girl, wrong spice…

“I think something big is about to happen,” the ever alert private eye warns the documentary maker.

More awake and suddenly motivated he moves to his equipment bag to retrieve his last 35mm blank, slapping in a fresh two thousand feet into the front reel chamber.

“Let’s get outside for a better angle,” she notices that he has airport credentials that give him freedom of movement. “I’m with him,” she tells a security guard who is guarding access to the tarmac. “Here comes an arrival, there hasn’t been one in 30 minutes and it should be the busiest part of the day.”

“Okay, Miss Coriander, I’m ready to roll.” Right woman, wrong spice.

The entire passenger cabin has assumed the head-in-lap position, no use looking out the windows now. “Brace yourselves for a rough landing…” Ace has briefed them on what the airport expects of them upon touchdown, panic is not an option. He reminds them that it his skill that will determine the outcome and nothing else. What he doesn’t tell them is that because of the sharp descent angle they will be doing the equivalent of a swimming pool belly flop.

He throttles the new turbine engines back to the minimum required RPMs to stay airborne as he clears the perimeter fence and goes full flaps after that. After the two front wheels are weighed down by the descending fuselage, they curl up like a petunia at sunset and the only thing between the bottom of the plane and the cold concrete is five foot layer of air, which disappears after the skilled flyer shuts down the engines, makes a sharp right turn and takes the aircraft into the wet grassy soil and ultimately to the end of available real estate.

Chain_Link_Fence

The only thing left between the screeching plane and Central Avenue is a chain link fence, which stretches out to its max, but stops forward progress when the wings finally contact the reinforced barrier. Ace gives a friendly wave at the stopped line of cars that was headed east on Central… those going west go around the scene like The Blue Ridge Angel is a fallen tree. Places to go you know.


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 178

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 178

…Seated a few seats down from Constance is a man with a bulky motion picture camera next to him…

Photo by Richard Lund

Photo by Richard Lund

Meanwhile

From her vantage point in the main terminal, Constance is not the only one wondering what is going on; there is an army of flashing red lights on an otherwise ordinary weekday evening. The public address announcements will tell you where to pick up your baggage or that meatloaf is the special in the cafeteria, but mum is the word on what the fuss is about.

The taxiways are empty and there hasn’t been a takeoff or landing for 15 minutes and as 7:30 has come and gone, Constance is getting that sinking feeling. She begins to pray, unwittingly joining in the rising chorus of believers, here on the ground and especially in the air.

Seated a few seats down from her is a man with a bulky motion picture camera next to him, but very much asleep. She is compelled to roust him to ask the obvious, “Is this entire hullabaloo for a movie? You’d think they’d tell someone.”

“Oh, my no! I am shooting footage for a documentary on the air travel boom, now that ordinary people can afford to fly,” he appears seriously tired, perhaps why he was nodding off earlier, after a long day of filming at Midway.

“I don’t mean to be forward,” yeah right, “but I believe there is something very serious about to happen. Maybe you should load some fresh tape into that thing and get ready.”

“This is 35mm nitrocellulose film, not tape and I’m on my last reel Ma’am.”

“My name is Caraway, Constance … and yours?” she extends her hand.

Goldwyn, Samuel  Jr.,” he returns the inside-out salutation.

Constance isn’t an expert on Hollywood, but she does keep track of things out of Tallahassee, “Is your father _____?”

“Yes, the bigtime filmmaker, but he’s in Europe, doing his movie star thing. I am my own man, thank you… and a newlywed. My wife is back home in L.A.”

“It is nice to meet you, but while you were napping, I think something big is going to happen.”


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 177

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 177

…So you wanna be an airline pilot, eh?” Ace chides the young man in the chair to his right…

“The wheels aren’t locking, Captain Bannion!”

“That is not good.” A dozen scenarios are running through Ace’s head, but none of them good. “How much fuel do we have in the tanks, kiddo?”

“About two thousand liters,” he reports a partial load of 100 octane blend.

“Good thing we didn’t fill‘er-up at KC,” he calmly moves on to plan B. “The gear is going to collapse shortly after we touch down, so we are going have to set this plane down on its belly. Go back and tell Mr. Graham to come forward.”

When Billy ducks under the cockpit bulkhead, Ace gives the plane’s owner the bad news, “The landing gear will not lock Billy. We have tried 5 times, but the hydraulic system is messed up. I think I can put her down without too much damage, but you have to be the one to break the news to our people; you have that way of making prayer a part of everything we do, well, no better time than now.”

While Billy preaches to the choir in back, Ace talks to the tower at Midway Airport, “This is Graham flight number 2 zero-niner requesting a clear runway, we don’t have gear.” Simply put.

“This is the tower 2 zero-niner, we want you to put down on Runway 13C, and do a two pass fly-around to give us time to get ready. How many folks do you have onboard?”

“Thirty-one passengers and five crew.” That question was asked so that they can have enough emergency personnel at the scene.

So you wanna be an airline pilot, eh?” Ace chides the young man in the chair to his right.

The airplane intern straps himself into his seat after checking with the navigator, who is almost as young and not feeling too confident about the heading he has figured.

“I’m taking us into a 20 knot northeast breeze, which should slow us down some… damn, I mean darn, there are enough ambulances down there to light up the whole airport.” The captain swallows hard. His final order is supposed to be funny, “Turn on the windshield wipers.”


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 176

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 176

…This is your Captain speaking, on your right you will see the lights of Indianapolis Indiana…

Captain Ace Bannion guides The Blue Ridge Angel on a steady north-northeasterly course out of Kansas City Missouri. At 15,000 feet they encounter turbulence from the outflow of a spring storm rising out of Iowa, but he steers their Douglas Aircraft nimbly to the east.

He is in contact with Midway tower within the first half of the 7:00 PM CST hour and things are looking good for an on-time arrival for this planeload of people jazzed for Jesus.

“This is your Captain speaking. On your right you will see the lights of Indianapolis Indiana. We are 150 miles out of Chicago and can look forward to a balmy evening about 48 degrees with broken overcast. If you are not wearing your seatbelt, please peel yourself off the ceiling and find your seat and then buckle up. These measures are the continuing policies aboard the Blue Ridge Angel, concerning both landings and takeoffs. Thank you”

Safety is a paramount responsibility of the pilot, no matter how the feeling of invulnerability permeates this load of Billy Graham Crusade regulars.

Idiot lightAs the plane descends below the stratocumulus cloud deck at 4000 feet and 50 miles out, it is time to lower the landing gear. As routine as that deployment is, it is not advisable to land without wheels down. There is even an idiot light that goes on should the gear not both drop and lock. No offense Mr. Pilot.

Ace’s copilot is a recent graduate of the Lewis University School of Aviation and is interning in this airliner, which is a far cry from the Cessna that he trained in. He wants to be a commercial airline pilot when he grows up, which started 10 years ago when he was 10 years old.cockpit2

A decade later his dream is going to turn into a nightmare.

“The red light is on Ace,” he alerts the Captain.

What do you mean…” he retracts the gear with a flip of a switch and then flips it on again and again x5.

“It’s not locking Mr. Bannion!”


Constance Caraway P.I.

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“On your right…………..”

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 172

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 172

…We were expecting to get away earlier, but the Blue Ridge Angel has to undergo some sort of Federal inspection…

Blue Ridge Angel-001

“When he gets there, make sure you have a 24 hour bodyguard for him.” Constance knows that the world is about to find out that his (Libby) demise was greatly exaggerated. “And do not trust anyone and I mean anyone. If President Truman personally invites him to the White House, have him produce 2 forms of identification.”

“Billy knows what is at stake,” Ace being the de facto security chief for the Crusades, which is akin to being the FCC censor for the Mickey Mouse Club.

Meeting Ace at the airport this time does not mean Meigs Field, but rather Midway Airport. “That whole airport has a footprint of one square mile,” he tells her, as if she would know the difference. With houses and businesses on all four sides, passenger planes must literally drop from the sky, in order to have enough runway length to come to a stop.

“What time are you flying in?”

“We are leaving out of Kansas City tomorrow night at 5:00. We were expecting to get away earlier, but the Blue Ridge Angel has to undergo some sort of Federal inspection before they would let us out; took their sweet time at that.”

“Don’t you find that a bit odd?”

“The CAA has been a little prickly lately, word has it that there are changes afoot, seeing that jet airplanes crash faster than props. Plus, Kansas City is a regional hub, so they are grabbing planes and pilots left and right,” Ace relates. “And like the IRS, they have us by the shorthairs.”

“You’ll be okay, didn’t you ‘gradiate’ from the Wilbur Wright Flying School?”

“Civil Aeronautics Administration approved, summa cum lousy. Hey, if you think theySumma Cum Lousy-001 are bad automobile drivers out there, take a ride with an inexperienced airplane jockey,” Ace is one of the world’s most experienced civilian flyers out there and has seen his share of close calls. When the plane can carry 30 or so people, like the one he is about to take off in – in a few minutes, the potentialRelated image death toll far exceeds any single car accident. “I’ll see you at about 7:30. That should give me time to park this thing and take care of my entire Bible toting army.”

“Is any of the Good Book rubbing off on you?” she can only hope.

“I’ve turned a few pages,” there may be hope for him after all.


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