Leg 3: Forced Landing
. . >> story continues from Leg 2: Logbook
your sandwich, Mike," you say while throwing it to him
from the seat of your cockpit. "I am ready to go!"
From an easy liftoff, you steer the airplane to the open skies of the west towards Cheyenne, Wyoming.
After another hour and a half of uneventful flight, you notice
the clouds are beginning to thicken up around you. You wonder
if this is the front edge of the snowstorm that is quickly
big gust of wind suddenly lifts the airplane up, then down.
The airplane is slip-sliding and bouncing around in the turbulent
the engine sputters . . . halts a moment, kicks in briefly, and quits. This happens on occasion, but your heart races
just a bit as you realize that the storm front might be the
least of your worries. With the engine out, there is no time
to make it to an emergency landing field. The airplane is heading
down and you do your best to keep it level in the stormy winds.
|Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.
airplane breaks through the clouds, and you spy a field of winter
wheat just ahead. There is a farmhouse and a barn to your
left. You see a tree-lined river beyond the barn. You steer
the airplane to clear the buildings, but five spooked horses
run close under the airplane. You fear you might hit them. Looking
out the other side of the airplane, you are relieved to see the
horses racing off toward the barn.
that there is no more room to maneuver, you brace yourself
as the airplane slams to the ground, cutting through the wheat.
The downed airplane comes to a final rest with a jolt and lists
to the left. The clock reads 3:18 p.m. Taking a few deep breaths
and making sure that you are okay, you climb swiftly out of
walk away from the airplane to think about the situation at hand,
remembering that the mail is the highest priority. You need
to decide if you can get the airplane flying again. If not,
you must find a way to get the mail sacks to their destination.
assess your airplane. The lower, left wing is crumpled and
the front left side of the fuselage is badly splintered from
the impact. With these broken parts and the dead engine, there
is too much for you to fix on your own. Ship number 385 is
a "wash-out," in other words, damaged beyond immediate repair.
Luckily, there are no signs of fire; you begin pulling the mail sacks out of the wreckage. Through the trail of crumpled
wheat, you see a man coming toward you. "You all right
there young feller?" the farmer calls out.
am, but the ship is badly damaged," you reply. You introduce
yourself and explain that you are an airmail pilot and that
you are sorry for landing on his property.
farmer introduces himself, "Sonny Wyatt is the name.
I am glad you are okay, but it looks like you ruined a big
portion of my wheat field."
|Pilot Helen Richey.
- Courtesy of the Air Mail Pioneers
Post Office Department will pay you for all damages. Send
us a bill when you figure out the cost. Could you help me
get this mail back on the move? I need to find the nearest
telephone to report where the airplane went down. Whereabouts
are we?" you ask.
is Cheyenne County, Nebraska. I don't have a telephone,"
says Farmer Wyatt, "But there is a telephone in town
– Sidney is about 7 miles east and has telephones, a
post office and train stop. My sons and I will give you a
the eight sacks of mail on a horse and wagon, you are ready
to head back east with the help of Farmer Wyatt. Before heading
to town, you arrange with Farmer Wyatt's teenage son
to pay him a penny an hour to watch the airplane and to keep
any curious neighbors from touching it.
manage to beat the storm to Sidney, where you phone in the
news and tell the mechanics how to find your forced landing
site. The mechanics will come and haul away the downed airplane.
stormy weather is too strong now for another airmail airplane
to fly into Sidney and pick up your mail sacks. Instead, you
place the mail sacks on the next train to Cheyenne and you
catch another going home to Omaha. At the first opportunity,
you must fill in a regulation Report of Forced Landing.
Report of Forced Landing
Enter the story's details into this Report of Forced
Landing. All airmail pilots had to fill out a report if their flight was more than 15 minutes behind schedule. Even days after
a forced landing, a pilot still might not know the extent
of the damage to the airplane, the final cost of repairs,
oil, and gas as well as many other details on the outcome
of a crash. Fill in as many blanks as you can.
Fill in the forced
See some reports of forced landings.
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