DD and I went outside to see who was flying over. It was a big plane (for us) and beautiful. The colors on it were shades of brown including chocolate—unusual. It flew over, came around, flew back around and prepared to land. It was obvious it was on a final approach. As it touched down, I could see the pilot and it was DH! He hadn’t told me he was swinging by to see us. What a thrill! It was, by far, the nicest airplane he’d flown and he was sharing the experience. He touched down and that’s when it happened.
As the plane contacted the grass runway, he reversed the propellers to slow it and simultaneously stepped on the brakes. There was a slight rise on the left of the runway and, for some unknown reason, the plane pulled in that direction. It plowed up the rise and, as it did, the propellers started hitting the ground. I could tell DH was frantically trying to pull it back onto the runway but nothing was helping. He managed to get it stopped and shut down the engines.
He opened the cabin door and let down the stairs. The look on his face was one of horror. DD and I went to join him and together we took in the damage. Both propellers were bent into “J” shapes. At least the engines didn’t seem to be any worse for wear. We could be thankful for that. He told me he’d wanted to come take us for a ride in the plane and that’s why he had detoured by our place. By that time, it was the thought that counted.
Shakily, he led us onto the plane and showed us around. Might as well as long as it was there. The cockpit looked like something out of an aviation magazine. He demonstrated the latest technology—a female voice giving audio warnings. As I remember, it was saying something like, “The cabin door is open.” The cabin was luxurious. I’m sure there are better appointed ones but, for us, this was pretty uptown. We checked out the facilities and I wouldn’t have minded using them at all. It had propeller driven jet engines. It was as close as he’d ever been to flying a true jet.
We went to the house and he got on the phone. No problem. The company that owned it would report it to the insurance company. We could breathe easily. He had to let his passenger know he would be detained indefinitely so other arrangements could be made.
I hadn’t planned a big meal for DD and me but we had DH, too. It seemed it would be prudent to fix something special since food can be a comfort. Is that why it’s called “comfort food”? I set about prepping and cooking. We were no longer pretending to be vegan. Eggs and dairy (besides already using cream cheese) had crept back into our diets. While I hadn’t gained a lot of weight, I wasn’t as slim as I’d been before. I don’t remember what I fixed but it was tasty as usual. I was a good cook.
After we finished eating, we went to North Platte to get away from the sorry sight of that plane on the little hill. We didn’t need anything but to escape. One place we stopped was a Christian book store where I bought a plaque with an inspirational quote on it. I can’t recall exactly how it went but it was in the vein of viewing the trials of today as the blessings of tomorrow. DH wasn’t convinced. He appreciated the gesture but he would have rather had the plane airworthy.
Days went by and we were busy waiting. That’s all we could do. Wait. An adjuster was to come out and inspect the plane. I don’t know where he had to come from but it must’ve been Siberia or somewhere as far. He came, looked and left.
The call came from the company that owned the plane. Insurance wouldn’t cover it. The runway wasn’t approved for that class of plane or the provisions of the policy. DH was crushed. I’d never seen him so down. There was nothing for him to do but bite the bullet and bite, he did. He called someone to come out and give him a repair estimate.
There was more waiting. We were out in the middle of the prairies of Nebraska and anyone who worked on repairing Mitsubishi Diamonds wasn’t close by. It was agonizing but we made it through each day by watching and praying. I woke every morning hoping all this was a terrible nightmare but it wasn’t to be. It was only too real.
Finally, the man showed up. His attitude was, “Oh, wow, man! You really did it, didn’t you?” He peered into the engines. Didn’t see any damage there. No doubt, the propellers would have to be replaced. There was no way they could be straightened and hold up to the stress. How much? He’d have his people call us when he got everything down and back to the office.
This was getting to be too much. The plane was visible from every room in the house except for DD’s bedroom, the bathroom, and the kitchen. Whenever I glanced in the direction of the hanger, there it was. We had nothing big enough to cover it up. It was too heavy to tow over that rough ground.
One day, the phone rang. It was someone from the office with the estimate. Two three blade propellers for a Mitsubishi Diamond installed would be right at $10,000. I was sick. DH was sick. DD was too young to understand but I’m sure she was aware that all was not right with our world. DS1 was still away at academy. DS2 was busy with his school activities and, while he knew what was going on, he had bigger fish to fry. I rather envied him.
We had some money on hand but it wasn’t a fraction of what we needed. The bank wouldn’t give us a loan with no collateral. We didn’t have any equity to speak of in the trailer. They wouldn’t consider the ultralights and hang gliders. My car had depreciated, of course, as soon as we drove it off the lot. DH hadn’t flown for weeks and wouldn’t be able to get back to it until this was resolved.
Prayer after prayer went up. He was impressed to go to our “Nebraska grandma”. She and her husband lived very frugally and I would have never thought they had that kind of money available. When he approached her with his tale of woe, her reaction was, “Of course, dear! I’ll go to the bank right away.” I don’t remember any contract, agreement, or note. He promised he would pay it back with interest but she said no interest would be necessary. Bless her and thank you, Lord!
The company was notified, parts were ordered and the mechanics came out to do the repairs. It was a red-letter day when DH got into the cockpit and cranked the engines. A nay-saying neighbor came to watch. He just knew the runway wasn’t long enough for DH to take off. There wasn’t any other way out. He’d have to make it or die trying. The propellers were whirling and he taxied to the end of the runway. Adding power, he stepped on the brakes until the plane was vibrating and shaking in its excitement. It was going to be airborne again! He took one last look at us and home and roared down the runway. “Rotate! Rotate!” the neighbor shouted as if DH could hear him. The plane lifted off and was soon in the clear blue sky. He was on his way.