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Franz L Kessler

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Member Since: Apr, 2003

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Reality Check
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Have you ever been sitting in an airplane sensing that something is seriouly wrong? I experienced the below in Congo, Africa, about 1994...

A moment of truth

It happened after the first civil war. I had to fly to Pointe Noire, from Brazzaville, Congo.
The windows in the departure hall were shattered, and 7.62 mm bullet scars abounded cratering gray concrete walls. As I entered the Fokker 50 jet plane, I realized that most of the seats were broken. Suitcases and boxes were piling up five feet high in the gangway, and also in the lavatories to the point that it filled all the smelly space entirely.

I found myself a functional seat next to the rear-left turbine. People streamed in until the plane was packed. Five minutes later the pilot started the engine. There was a strange tack-tack-tack-tack noise, increasing in frequency as the turbine accelerated. Something inside the turbine wasn’t kosher. ‘It will either blow up right now, or work,’ I tried to persuade myself.

The pilot released the brakes and the plane hobbled toward the runway. The turbines screamed as the plane chased along. I looked through the window. There passed the remnants of the Brazzaville zoo, a shanty town, a graveyard with many new graves.

By that time we had already been chasing along for a seven hundred yards.

‘The plane is heavy, and we’re moving somewhat slow,’ I told myself.

‘But Brazzaville has got a long runway, more than 1800 yards, good enough even for Jumbo jets.’

Yet, alarmed, I felt my heartbeat. Blood shot through my veins. Something was wrong and I knew it. The plane was still rolling and desperately trying to accelerate farther. The engines screamed.
This runway was long, but it wouldn’t last forever.

I whispered prayers. Scenes of my life shot through my brain. What would I leave behind, if we were to crash into the suburbs of Makele-kele?

‘Oh My God, please…’

A powerful vibration shook the aging jet, but then it lifted off like a bumble bee with lead wings.

I looked down the window. I saw the grass patches behind the end of the runway, then bushes. Farther away beyond loomed the gorges with the Congo rapids. We were in the air, at last.

I leaned back, and took a deep breath. Foggy cool air stremed in through the nozzle above. Alive once more. I seized a paper towel and wiped the cold sweat from my face.


© 2005 by Franz L. Kessler


       Web Site: Matahari Sky

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Reviewed by Sandra Mushi 6/18/2005
Wow! I was gripping my chair so tightly, fearing for the very worst! Almost broke a nail! Glad you made it safely, Franz!

God bless,

Sandie.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 6/18/2005
scary!! but glad you made it through! compelling story, franz; very well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in america, karen lynn in texas. :D
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 6/17/2005
spellbinding

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