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  #211  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:30 AM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

At 6:00 A.M., the son awoke to his alarm and dismissed it. He had slept very well on the couch in El Dorado, but he felt like rolling over and sleeping for another few hours. Nevertheless, he forced himself to get up and get dressed. He stuffed his bag and made coffee out of a can that probably had not been opened in years, and the coffee maker, sitting idle and bone-dry with a litter of dust in the carafe, looked unusable at first. The son rinsed it in the sink and got the brew cycle started.

When the son stepped outside, he was hit with a hot blast of humidity that had blown in overnight. There were high stratus clouds and a feel in the air of thunderstorms just waiting to be made. He did not waste any time getting the Dove packed and pre-flighted. He cranked over and took off on Runway 17 with a right crosswind departure to the west. El Dorado lay asleep in the sanguine light of a Sunday morning.



There were wide swaths of steam getting pumped into Texas from the southwest, and the son set a course for El Paso. He flew just to the north of the city, then hooked north along the Rio Grande.







The sunburst over Las Cruces, New Mexico, beautified its morning as the son headed north.





After a 400-mile flight in 2.4 hours, the son landed at Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (TCS). He pulled up to the pumps and shut down.





There was an advertised price at Truth or Consequences for $4.01 per gallon, but the new Internet-based credit card reader would not accept the son's cards. Blaire, the operator on duty that morning, came out and lamented the new card reader, telling the son that the Internet was totally unreliable in those reaches of the New Mexico desert. He offered to top off the Dove using the fuel truck at a significantly higher price, but the son objected. The son insisted that the $4.01 price be applied since the malfunction belonged to the airport, and advertising the sale of fuel on a malfunctioning pump needed to be rectified somehow. Blaire understood and agreed completely. He pulled the fuel truck around and let the son top off both tanks. Then the son went inside with Blaire to pay.



In the pilots lounge, the son took some time to check weather and sip on some fresh coffee. Blaire came in and gave the son a little education about the City of Truth or Consequences. He said the city used to be called Hot Springs, New Mexico, namely because of all the many, many geothermal springs in the area. But when the NBC television network offered $50,000 to any town in America that would change its name to the popular game show's name, Hot Springs applied for the money and won. It had been named Truth or Consequences ever since.

"That fifty-thousand dollars is long gone, but the name sure stuck," Blaire concluded.

Later, a crew of New Mexico Fish and Game officers landed in a twin-engine Vulcanair. They experienced the exact same problem with the self-serve pump, and Blair had to go back outside to fuel them up using the truck.



The son went back out to the Dove and prepared to depart.
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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

Last edited by Scott Chastain : 10-21-2020 at 09:11 PM.
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  #212  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:31 AM
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

The son cranked over and taxied out toward Runway 31, beyond a run-down military-style shack with rudimentary observation towers built next to it.



He took off on a right 45-degree departure to the north. The air was already becoming turbulent and cumulus-riddled as he climbed out and looked back toward Elephant Butte Reservoir.



The son followed the Rio Grande all the way up to Albuquerque where he diverted sharply to the northwest.



Flying directly over Farmington, New Mexico, the son continued on past Monticello, Utah and Abajo Peak.



Crossing over the Colorado River, the son beheld the beauty of Canyonlands National Park and the freakish scab-like crawl of the surrounding terrain.











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  #213  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:32 AM
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

Near Moab, a bizarre array of evaporation ponds glowed in the distance like giant swimming pools.



The son pulled his shoulder harnesses as tight as possible. The turbulence during his descent was uncomfortable and persistent. Even with power pulled way back, the hot updrafts from the desert were keeping the Dove aloft and preventing any aggression in the dive down to the airport. He was getting seriously bucked around all the way through his final approach and flare, landing after 2.8 hours and covering another 444 miles. At the pumps in Huntington, Utah (69V), the son shut down and got out. He needed a rest.



There was nobody at all at the airport. After fueling up, the son wandered through the nearby hangar rows.



He found a pilots lounge built into the side of a large hangar. The son went inside but walked out almost immediately. There was no air movement at all. It was like walking into the ancillary of a gymnasium where all the breath, sweat, and evaporation of an intense competition had been piped in, locked up, and allowed to settle for a few years. The facility itself was well-intentioned, but suffocation was assured for anyone who lingered within.



The son walked back over to the Dove and strapped in. When he took off down Runway 08, he made a left crosswind departure to the northeast and began a climb-out to12,500 feet. At the Carbon County Airport in Price, Utah (PUC), the son turned to the west and continued his climb. The turbulence was difficult to accept, but nevertheless, he leveled out and set up for cruise at a significantly reduced power setting.

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  #214  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:32 AM
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

Aiming beyond Spanish Fork, Utah, the son flew directly over Utah Lake for the CEVAR intersection and watched the City of Provo fall away to the starboard.





The southern tip of Utah Lake converged toward a point where the town of Nephi vanished some 30 miles distant in the hot turbulent haze of the afternoon.



By the time the son reached the CEVAR intersection, the turbulence had become severe enough to reduce the power even more. In addition to getting seriously knocked around, the Dove was being smattered heavily by insects, many of them the size of locusts or grasshoppers. Down a 50-mile-long corridor heading west, the son flew over the Great Salt Lake Desert. It was the same course he and the father had flown on their way home from Oshkosh in 2008. Twisting tendrils of salt seemed to be reaching out in desperation at the edges of the salt flats where the son began making a slow galloping descent over the pale white of the desert.







Entering the pattern for landing at Wendover, Utah (ENV), the son beheld the skeletal remains of the Army Air Corps base used there during World War II.





After landing, the son taxied in and gratefully shut down. The last 50 miles over the desert had been the most brutal of the day---a test of wills, it seemed, to foster discouragement and fear in the son?s mind. But as he spoke with the father, a great sense of comfort and relief washed over the son. He climbed out of the Dove. With the exception of a rotting DC-4 a few hundred feet away, she was the only plane on the ramp.



With 6.5 hours of flying behind him, the son was ready for a break. He chocked the Dove and walked into the FBO building. It was refreshingly cool and air-conditioned inside. He went upstairs to the room where he and his father had charted out the final leg of their trip 11 years earlier. The same table was there.

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  #215  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:33 AM
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

After cooling off and rehydrating in the upstairs room, the son spent over 30 minutes outside wiping down the Dove. Her leading edges were thoroughly encrusted with bug splatter, and the son could not remember a flight that had so dramatically and completely drenched the Dove with innards. Meanwhile, two young men who were operating the FBO pulled their fuel truck up to the plane and let the son top off the tanks. Afterward, he went back inside to pay his fuel bill and watched the curling cumulus getting pushed westward over the Nevada skyline. The hot desert wind persisted throughout the afternoon.



The historic Wendover Army Airfield had a small museum downstairs. Among other things, the airfield was the training base for B-29 bombers and the actual training site for the Enola Gay, the first aircraft used in nuclear war. Dropping the nuclear bomb code-named, "Little Boy" over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay was outfitted, and her crew covertly trained, at Wendover specifically for that mission. The son spent a short time looking over artifacts and memorabilia in the museum.







The airfield was suddenly invaded by a squadron of Apache helicopters. Wave after wave began pouring in from the east and taxiing by the FBO toward the other end of the field. The manager of the FBO went out to take a few photos as the son watched from the upstairs lounge.



According to the two young men who brought fuel out to the Dove earlier, Wendover was hosting a large military war games exercise throughout the upcoming week, and the U.S. Army was just now arriving and gearing up for operation.

"Am I allowed to walk down the flightline to explore a little?" the son asked.

"Sure," one of the linemen replied. "Just remember, they're active military down there, so you might want to keep your distance."

"Okay, thanks."

"Are you staying the night?" the man asked.

"Yes, I'm planning on it," the son said.

"We have a courtesy car you can use," he said. The lineman took the son's driver's license and made a copy. The other young man brought the courtesy vehicle over to the side of the building and parked it there, an olive-drab Crown Victoria. He came into the FBO and handed the keys to the son.

"I'm planning on leaving fairly early tomorrow morning," the son said, holding out the keys. "Where should I leave them?"

"Just stick them under the mat right outside the door there," he replied. "That's our standard operating procedure."

The son thanked the two men and walked out to the flightline. He turned to the west in the shadow of a cloud.



Then the son turned east and started down the row of hangars where the DC-4 was parked.



Near the FBO, there was a stripped C-123 aircraft fenced off from the flightline. According to the linemen, the plane was used for the filming of the 1997 film, "Con Air," starring Nicolas Cage. The son went over to have a closer look at the plane.





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  #216  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:34 AM
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

The DC-4, with cracked and flattening main tires that were chocked on a weed-ridden section of concrete, seemed to welcome the son as he moved down the hangar rows. The original buildings along the flightline stood sentinel over the silence of a history they once protected.







One of the hangars was in the process of being restored. Inside, the original wood framing braced itself firmly over plumbing and heating units that had not been removed since the war's end.









The son walked eastward toward where the Apaches had parked, about a half mile from the FBO.





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  #217  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:34 AM
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

74 years after Hiroshima, the U.S. Army was still actively using the very hangar that sheltered the Enola Gay. There was a great deal of activity on the field, and it all centered on the arched building where many had practiced loading "pumpkins," or dummy bombs, that were used in training---training that ultimately brought an end to the most deadly war in human history. Now the soldiers were training there again. It was yet to be seen for what.



The son walked back to the FBO and slid into the driver's seat of the courtesy vehicle. He drove around the back of the large hangars and found the fenced off area where the original army barracks still stood. Even the mess hall remained standing in original condition. A few generators were running nearby. In addition to the Enola Gay Hangar, the U.S. Army was still using some of the barracks property for the upcoming exercise.



Behind the Enola Gay Hangar, the military was hauling in a lot of heavy equipment and setting up a command center.





Eventually, the son drove into Wendover for dinner. He stopped at a restaurant called The Copper Kettle where they served Mexican food. The son ordered a chile relleno plate and drank several glasses of ice water. Not long after that, the son found himself being pulled down a long flat stretch of desert. The father was waiting for him where the road ended.



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Last edited by Scott Chastain : 10-21-2020 at 09:27 PM.
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  #218  
Old 10-02-2019, 10:36 AM
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Default 31. Salt of the Earth

The son got out and looked around and felt the surge of life flowing through his body, pumped by a heart that was being held and protected and infused with a joy that no manner of the lifeless expanses around him could touch or taste or swallow.





Another history of human striving and achievement fell silent before him. And after a few moments of blessing in that silence, the son looked at the Crown Victoria and wondered what kind of records it could break. Then he got in to find out.



Back in Wendover, the son rewarded the incredibly smooth-handling and happily throttled-up courtesy car with a long-overdue car wash and fuel-up. Across the main highway, there was a theater scheduled to show the latest release of "The Lion King." The son had over 45 minutes to walk through the desert and wait for the doors to open. He watched the setting sun bring the excitement of the day to a beautiful conclusion as the world of gambling and vice seemed to awaken in West Wendover.







The presence of the father in the theater was at times overwhelming. The powerful thematic underpinnings of the father-son relationship, at times alluded to with subtlety and at others with Biblical efficacy, was precisely what the father intended for the son by leading him there that night. The son walked out feeling loved and adored by the father as never before.

The son drove back to the airport and discovered three other arrivals parked alongside the Dove: A Cessna, a Lancair, and a Piper. The son climbed the steps of the original WWII control tower to have a better look at the flightline.



With no after-hours access to the FBO, the son decided to simply make the most of the courtesy vehicle that night by sleeping in the back seat. He pulled up between a pair of buildings under the control tower and rolled down the windows, but he soon discovered that no sleep was to be had with the desert heat lingering as it did. He rolled the windows back up and ran the air conditioner every couple of hours, turning over in the heat that invariably kept waking him up throughout the night. But his comfort had become irrelevant. He knew what was coming, and it was coming more quickly than whatever sleep---or lack of sleep---could overcome. It was the fulfillment of a promise which, for thousands of years, many awaited and hoped for and prayed for and yearned for, even beyond the very borders of belief; yet its coming was as certain to him as the taste of salt from the floor of a desert. Or as certain as victory was to those who were willing to die for their freedom. In whatever wars would come, his comfort no longer mattered. It was now only for the promise of resurrection that he lived.

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Last edited by Scott Chastain : 10-21-2020 at 09:31 PM.
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  #219  
Old 10-03-2019, 10:50 AM
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Default 32. Resurrection







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  #220  
Old 10-03-2019, 10:51 AM
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Default 32. Resurrection

Only the faintest hints of dawn began to show beyond the windows of the Crown Victoria when the son opened his eyes from the back seat. He had fired up the engine to run the air conditioner three times during the wee hours of the morning, and it was still fairly warm outside when he opened the door to switch seats. The son slid behind the steering wheel and started the car again. He backed out and drove up the hill about a quarter mile to a Shell gas station.

Across the street from the pumps, four police cars were urgently swerved up to a curb with their emergency lights blazing. The son pulled into the gas station, parked, and got out. He heard a woman screaming angrily at the top of her lungs, a skinny blonde woman in her early forties who looked sunburnt and baked in the darkness of the early morning, standing barefoot on the street corner while several officers kept their distance and tried to question her. She wouldn't listen. The woman kept clutching at herself, spewing angry insults and vulgarities at the officers in a tantrum of flashing red and blue and white, the street corner being lit up like an outdoor disco, and the woman raging with a demonic hatred that, for the time being, kept the officers in an orbit of apprehensive readiness. Like the son, a few other people pumping gas were watching the scene unfold. After a few minutes, the son went inside to get coffee. When he came back out, the screaming and yelling continued unabated.

The son drove back to the airport and parked the courtesy vehicle behind the FBO. He went around to the front of the building and slipped the keys under the door mat, then walked out to the Dove with his flight bag to begin a pre-flight inspection. He removed the canopy cover, packed up his gear, then went back over to the FBO to check weather conditions over a Wi-Fi connection. He could see light rain showers wedging in from the northeast. An upper level disturbance had pushed in overnight, but the son saw nothing that might preclude him from moving ahead.

The sun had risen. The day lay before him. It was Monday, July 29, 2019. He strapped in and cranked over. After completing his run-up and pulling onto Runway 12, the son stopped on the hash marks and beheld the beauty of the coming day. Bursts of orange and yellow light shafted through showering curtains and cloud layers that glowed joyfully in a slow drift to the southwest.



Then the son applied power and blasted out of Wendover on a right downwind departure. The warm joy of flight followed him from the salt flats as he climbed out to the northwest.





Flying near the Jarbidge Wilderness Area, the son had to make only slight diversions hither and thither to avoid any significant downpours. He flew through light precipitation that was just enough to wash over the windscreen in sporadic blurs as other showers trailed to the ground around him.







Crossing into Oregon through the Saddle MOAs, the skies began to clear and the son found himself emerging from under the darkening shadows into a sunlit realm of open rangeland.



The son began making a slow, steady descent after flying nearly 2.5 hours. He entered an overhead pattern on the upwind to allow a Chinese student pilot in a Skyhawk to land ahead of him. The son crossed the Columbia River Gorge and looked below at The Dalles, Oregon (DLS), with Mt. Hood in the distance.





After landing, the son fought with the brakes and rudder to clear the runway and taxi to the ramp. The wind was blowing hard through the gorge that day and the Dove wanted to weathervane almost deliberately. At the pumps, the son shut down for fuel.

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