STORM CLOUDS AHEAD
When Princess Anja, Duchess of Vasterplatzburg , paid an official visit to Canada she was given the pomp and ceremony usually reserved for Kings, Queens, or other important head of state. She was fawned over by politicians and celebrities; had honors bestowed upon her by universities and even the press, who are sometimes hostile to such visits due to the enormous cost to the taxpayer, gave her a break. In fact their front pages glowed with superlatives to describe her.
In Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg her worshipers gathered in phenomenal numbers just to catch a glimpse of her. As she worked the crowds she was always gracious, and much to the chagrin of her security team, often mingled with the onlookers to shake hands or to take a bouquet of flowers from a little girl.
The people loved Princess Anja and regardless of the fact she wore $30,000 outfits and even more expensive jewelry, they still considered her one of them. Everyone talked about the concern she seemed to have for the poor, the sick and the hungry and she certainly got more credit than the doctors, nurses and charity workers who worked in the field 24/7. This was due in no small part to the fact that her pictures consistently graced the front pages of newspapers and magazines across the world. As far as the public were concerned she could do no wrong.
When she reached Winnipeg and had done the usually banquets and tree plantings she was scheduled to fly to the far North. Here she was to open a huge hydro electric project, a joint venture between the Canadian Province and a Vasterplatzburg consortium.
Her retinue and the press corps flew ahead and the Princess was to fly in a small plane piloted by a famous bush pilot known as Nippy Daniels. His new shiny plane sat on the runway not far away from another, less attractive looking machine, owned by another bush pilot named Adam Tate.
Adam, who normally flew mail and supplies into northern communities, had been maintaining his plane that day and was due to drive home when all the excitement with Princess Anja erupted. He decided to stay on for a while to observe the spectacle.
It was just after lunch that the plane, due to carry the honored guest developed a mechanical problem and was unable to take off. There was panic, because a strict schedule had to be kept and it was going to take several hours to get the plane fixed.
It was the Princess who pointed to Adam’s plane and asked if it could take her on her flight north. The provincial Premier was not keen on asking Adam to do the job for two reasons. His first objection was that the plane was older and the interior had not been primped for the occasion, like Nippy’s had been, and secondly Adam was well known for his out spoken manner and his resistance to authority. However, when she put the pressure on the powers that be they had no alternative than to ask him if he’d undertake the flight.
He wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of flying someone he considered to be a high class parasite but he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse. There were only two seats in Adam’s plane and so it was agreed that only one security man would travel with them and he would have to sit in the cargo space. It was not an ideal arrangement.
Before he dare let anyone inside his craft Adam had to do a quick cleaning job as the cockpit was not even fit for any respectable person to sit in, never mind a celebrity like the Princess. He threw some of the rubbish in the back covering it up with a tarp and gave the seats and control panel a quick once over with an old pair of ladies underwear, left in appreciation by a former passenger.
The Premier himself helped Princess Anja into the plane and with a certain amount of pride to swallow he had to introduce her to her pilot and say nice things about him. With the security man in the back and his passenger fastened in her seat belt the plane taxied down the runway, with the officials all praying that nothing would go wrong.
“What kind of aircraft if this? “asked Anja, taking the whole experience quite calmly, as opposed the security man who was crouched in the back and looked as if he was about to shit his pants.
“It’s a De Havilland Beaver, the best plane ever built – would you believe this plane is almost 30 years old?”
On hearing this information the security man’s facial expression changed from very worried to one of extreme fear. The Princess however smiled and nodded as if she was quite comfortable with flying vintage.
The noise of the engine didn’t allow much conversation and so she passed the time admiring the wonderful scenery down below. The forest, with its myriad of lakes, seemed to stretch on forever and she was obviously impressed with its vastness and its beauty.
Adam kept in touch with Winnipeg from time to time but then the radio began to crackle and suddenly they were flying through dark clouds and the plane was rocking from side to side. Princess Anja’s smile had now disappeared and the security man at the back was hanging on to the back of the pilot’s seat for his dear life.
“What the hell’s happening?” he yelled as he struggled to stay upright.
“We seem to have run into a storm system,” Adam yelled back, “There was nothing on the weather report about this.”
He struggled to keep the plane on an even keel but it seemed to have a mind of its own. To make things even more terrifying for his passengers there were successive flashes of lightening and deafening claps of thunder.
Adam had witnessed a good deal of bad weather in his seven years as a pilot but this was a really freaky storm. His normally staunch features began to give way to a look of real concern as he concentrated on trying to bring the plane back under control. The final straw was when the lightening appeared to strike the plane and suddenly the engine went dead.
There was an eerie silence as they glided downwards with the plane still rocking from side to side. Several attempts at re-starting the engine failed and Adam knew they were about to crash land in the forest. It was not the ideal place to put an aircraft down and he knew that all their lives now hung in the balance.
Copyright 2016 Cristiano Caffieri