Friday, 5 July 2013

Glacier of death, part 2

             The winds swirled the snow until visibility was little more than the area ahead of the wing tips; the sounds of the engine drowned all but shouting as the two men looked out in the snow for a sign of life on the barren expanse of ice below.
 "How come you got the flight, Clem?," Joe said over the screaming of the engines as the plane circled the glacier for the final time, "I thought Dick Moore was down?"
Clem turned in his seat for a moment and replied, "He was down for relief search party, but his last trip over the ice-fields and the close call at Lac La Biche lake were a bit too much and he took a few days off, besides which Harry our native friend is due to return to Newfoundland soon and Dick wants to take him home."
"I read about the journey, it was certainly hair-raising and I can't imagine how scared they were losing height over the frozen lake and I don't blame him for taking a few days off after that journey."
The plane circled the glacier once more and all the men could see was the frozen whiteness for mile after mile; both of them realised this was the last hope the stranded plane would have, but they also knew with failing light and low on fuel, the rescue had to be cut to the minimum, realising their plight, Joe tapped Clem on the shoulder and when Clem turned to find out what he wanted, Joe gave him the  hand across the throat signal, telling Clem to cut the search for now. 
Clem gave the thumbs up and turned the stick to head the plane back to the airfield, he sighed, "We did our best; I don't think they can hold out for the night but if the stay with the fuselage, we may pick them up tomorrow."
In the passenger seat, Joe said a prayer and finished, "All stranded people are told to stay with the vehicles but when you don't think you'll get rescued, what do you do? I hope for their sake, they stayed close to the plane."
Clem pulled the plane in a steep bank and headed for the Lac La Biche airfield, as he did he glanced his fuel gauge and noticed the gauge dropping quicker than usual, "We've got a problem," he called to Joe, "the fuel is dropping too quick and we'll be lucky to get back."
“Where’s the nearest field to land, Clem?” Joe asked.
Clem kept a steady voice and replied, “If you call Yellowknife, we should be able to make it there with some luck.”
Joe picked the radio mike up and made the call, “Yellowknife, Yellowknife, this is Piper Cherokee Lima, Bravo, One, Four, Zero, Zero, Two; do you copy?”
The air was filled with white noise but nothing happened for minutes, then the reply came, “Piper Cherokee Lima, Bravo, One, Four, Zero, Zero, Two; this is Yellowknife what is your situation?”
“Hello Yellowknife, we are heading back from Munroe Glacier after a rescue and our fuel is running out, we can’t make it back to Lac La Biche, can you clear a runway for us?”
“Roger that, we have two clear at present with a plane due in soon but I can divert the flight to the long runway and leave the shorter one free for you. How far out are you?”
“From what I can see, I would guess about fifty miles but in these condition it’s hard to judge the distance, we’re flying almost blind with the swirling snow; you’ll need to guide us in.”

“Copy that Piper Cherokee, we have you on radar heading on course two, five, five degrees; keep on this heading and we’ll check the directions in about ten miles, to prepare you for the landing.”

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