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LATE NIGHT CHECK FLIGHT



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LATE NIGHT CHECK FLIGHT

On a late night check flight, VFR

Yuma vectors one-six-oh,

Moonless evening lit by star

Sheds no light on earth below.

My flight instructor stares ahead,

As motor drones it’s muffled shout;

I cannot shake the silent dread

Of dealing with an engine-out.

No city lights to gauge my height;

No beacon in the black abyss;

Terrain concealed by cloak of night,

Would engine’s death be Death’s sure kiss?

My nerves to hide, I clear my throat,

“So, can we dead-stick set this down?

What procedure can you quote

For gliding blindly toward the ground?”

Without a pause, with confident tone

The sage old pilot loosed his drawl:

“We trim the aircraft to be flown

At slowest speed above a stall.

Full flaps and slats then cinch your seat

And hold a level aileron;

When we reach five hundred feet

We switch the landing lights to ‘on’”.

His manner served to comfort me

Until he finished, with a cough;

“And if we don’t like what we see

We simply turn those lights back off!”

A glance, and then a smile slow

I respond with heavy sigh.

Cabin lit by gauges’ glow,

Without a word we wing the sky.

A proper plan improves our odds

As we approach our great unknowns;

Apply your hand but trust in God’s,

Takes yours plus His to bring you home.


Wes Stephenson

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