Damn it, Grant thought, there goes my father daughter day!
“Daddy, why is the nose slopping toward the ground?” Amy asked from the copilot’s seat.
“Do you see the landing gear light,” Grant pointed without taking his eyes off the runway.
“What color is it?”
“Green,” Amy’s voice trembled slightly.
Grant swallowed a swear as he struggled to raise the nose and cut the engine. After that there was nothing to do, but keep hold of the controls to steady the plane as it slowed down. Foremost on his mind was landing safely. He had his nine year old daughter with him, plus the eight passengers in back. To top it off the Cessna 402C’s nose locker was loaded with that day’s Charleston’s Daily Newspaper.
“As soon as we stop I want you out of this plane, Amy,” he spoke in a firm tone to his daughter. “Understood?”
“Yes Daddy.” Amy replied her own eyes intent on the Havana runway that was rushing toward the cockpit.
Contact with the ground made the propellers to bend upwards like ice cream being scooped with a hot spoon. The squeal of bending metal nearly deafened them as the plane slowly came to a halt, sparks flying. Grant unbelted himself as soon as he could and made sure Amy did the same. She was first off the plane. He paused just long enough to see her run to the edge of the runway.
Emergency crews began to arrive as Grant insured his passengers’ safety. One of the men picked his daughter up and took her to the waiting ambulance. Things were still not clear yet. Workers rushed to his aid. The newspapers had to be unloaded.
It wasn’t until the last bit was done that Grant allowed himself to leave the airplane. By that time the fuel had been drained. He walked toward his daughter. Her expression betrayed no knowledge of how close they had come to an explosive situation.
Smiling, Grant apologized, “Well pumpkin, it looks like we’ll have to skip the ice cream in Charleston.”
Amy shrugged. “It’s okay Daddy.”
“I know,” he ruffled her hair, “but I’m not sure if we’ll ever get a chance to do this again.”
[Author’s Note: The events in the story are taken from a real event, though the names and locations have been changed. I would like to point out that the Cessna 402C is a small eight seat prop plane. In Single Operation mode the ninth passenger is allowed to sit in the copilot’s seat.]