I’m one of those people who would most likely get lost trying to find his way out of a door. Directionally challenged doesn’t even begin to describe this affliction which frightens those who rely on me and is an endless source of hilarity to those who don’t.
I have a friend (believe it or not) who had finally achieved a dream of acquiring a pilot’s license. As a reward for all the hard work involved in this venture, he offered to fly me to the beach for the day on the condition that I acted as his Navigator. I readily agreed….I mean, who turns down a free trip to the beach? Early the next morning, dressed in our shorts and Hawaiian shirts (snort if you will but we were quite handsome), we took our seats as pilot (NOT me) and co-pilot/navigator (me). The flight should have been as easy as following the highway. Should have been.
About halfway to our destination, we got a call on our radio to “the unidentified aircraft entering military airspace” which we found to be most disturbing. Apparently we had gone off course at some point and had wandered too close to an Air Force base. This became extremely interesting when my friend attempted to respond to the call, only to discover that the mic was not transmitting. He handed said mic to me with the words “fix it.” I keyed the mic several times to no avail. I looked at it much like a mongoose looks at an invading cobra. And having exhausted my expertise, I used the best tool in the Manly Tool Bag Of Fix It Tricks, I gripped the cord and banged the mic on the dashboard. This seemed to fix the issue before trouble got too bad. We came in low and apologized profusely to the tower as we say two jets on the runway ready to take off. The tower graciously accepted our apology and advised us to remove ourselves from military airspace, which we did quickly.
Shortly after this we were back on track and bopping along when the cloud cover became thick enough we couldn’t see the highway any longer. Not wishing another “incident” my friend used the radio (which I fixed, thank you very much) to contact the Grand Strand Airport to give us a fix on our position. Imagine, if you will, the incredible need to change shorts when the Grand Strand Airport tower informed us that our current position was 10 miles to their South AND 5 miles over the ocean. Not only were we unable to see the ground but we were headed out to sea!
My friend spotted a small break in the clouds below and to our left, so in a dive bomber maneuver, we threaded that needle, almost colliding with a banner pulling plane. When our innards caught up with us, sweat was pouring off of us like an industrial sprinkler and we made our way back to the airport, landing in three bounces.
When the craft came to a stop, I jumped from it and lay face first on the tarmac attempting to hug the ground and hoping the heat would dry the accident I had on the way down, which didn’t work, grateful to be once again on terra firma.
The return trip was flown much lower and was without incident except that I was never asked to be the navigator again. My friend, however, was given the nickname of “Three Bounce” Reid.