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Seventeen Year Old Craig Hancock can’t wait to Fly with NOAA into the eye of a Hurricane. Excited, he boards the plane and heads to Miami and Halsey Navel Air Station. He has no idea he is stepping into a mystery that threatens not only his life, but the nation’s security
Craig had been on bumpy flights, but he’d never seen anything as wild as this. As they moved closer, the turbulence increased. The wind howled around the plane as if trying to rip the wings off.
He grabbed his seat when the plane abruptly dropped ten or twelve feet--braced when it jolted to the left, then the right.
A few minutes later, the plane hit the vortex, the brooding eyewall and bucked violently. Craig was in the eye of the storm.
Suddenly, a downdraft, combined with the change in barometric pressure rocked the plane. It plunged, dropping three thousand feet in thirty seconds.
Craig gulped. It was like dropping off the top of a roller-coaster, only a hundred times worse.
The co-pilot grabbed a handful of throttle. Captain Jennings clutched the yoke, trying to control the plane’s bank and pitch as it plummeted toward the raging ocean below.
His seat belt was the only thing that kept Craig from slamming into the ceiling. His feet were over his head, his stomach in his throat when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lieutenant Burton’s calculator floating in mid-air.
As Lieutenant Burton snatched the calculator, Craig grabbed the seat and pulled his legs down. Then the plane leveled off. The turbulence was gone, the wind in the eye of the storm calm.
Craig looked at the dark, churning funnel of angry clouds, held back as if by an invisible wall. He spotted birds, then did a double take. “Hey, there’s a boat down there,” he said.
“Probably got caught in the storm,” Lieutenant Burton said. “Pepe is a mild one. He’ll be all right if he stays in the eye.”
The crew began talking again. “Another five left, please,” the flight director said. “Keep it there. Okay, roll out. Bring me left a couple. Right two. Keep coming right, keep coming. Okay, let’s mark it here.”
Craig turned as Ensign Parker pushed a button. The sonde cylinder dropped from the plane with a metallic “Whang.”
A chute opened and the cylinder floated toward the ocean below.
Lieutenant Burton turned and adjusted dials on the receiver behind him. “Okay, let’s make another pass--see what we’ve got.”
Lieutenant Burton ran a series of tests, and nodded, “The sonde is relaying the storm data to the hurricane center.”
“Our job’s over,” the flight director said, after a couple more passes. “Let’s head for home.”
“Roger,” Captain Jennings said.
This time, Craig knew what to expect. When they hit the eyewall, a strong gust of wind rocked the plane. One of the engines sputtered--caught, sputtered again, then died.
“We’ve lost the number three engine,” Captain Jennings said. “Looks like we’ll have to crab our way between Cuba and Haiti.”
Craig knew what “crabbing” meant. Instead of flying in a straight line, you flew sideways, aiming toward a spot between ten and eleven o’clock. With three engines still running, there should be no problem.
He leaned back, and relaxed. They’d been flying thirty or forty-five minutes when the navigator’s frantic voice suddenly shouted. “Bank right! Bank right! We’ve drifted too far to the left. We’re in Cuban airspace.”
Just then, a Mig rose out of the clouds, followed by a second one. The Soviet-made Cuban Migs flew along side--one on the right, one on the left.
Craig gulped and sat up straight. The Mig pilot on his side of the plane had his thumb on the trigger
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Deanne C. Miller now resides in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and two Great Danes. When not writing, Deanne can be found at her potter’s wheel.
In addition to the second Craig Hancock adventure, she is currently working on a new adult mystery, with baseball as the theme.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 140
Paper Weight (lb): 6.2
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