At this point the storm that had been building began suddenly to unfurl it’s fury. The wind whipped mercilessly in an angry downdraft toward the plane and us, it’s unskilled caretakers. The body of the thing began to rock and in desperate hope my mind told me that perhaps the movement was being caused by someone who was struggling to get out. My eyes darted quickly to my husband who reassured me before I even spoke it, that it was only the wind catching the tail of the plane. I wrapped my arms as far as I could around that tail section and held for all I was worth. “What if someone’s alive?” I implored. “We should try to hold it steady so they don’t get injured any more than they already are.” Illogically seeing the sense in my words all of the men began to stabilize the plane along side me. With their strength beneath the bent up metal that plane wasn’t moving an inch. I was proud of Steve. Proud of these men I hadn’t met before today. They were uniting in what they knew was a futile attempt to save lives but they weren’t going to leave there without trying. One by one each of them had taken a turn peeking through the upside down windows at the bottom of the ditch. One by one I could read on each face what I already knew to be true but couldn’t admit.
The rest of the story passes by in my mind as a blur of flashing lights, bitter downpours of rain and uniformed officers with their hands on my shoulder. At one point I was asked to stand at the end of road turning traffic away. Another moment found me staring with my arms wrapped around myself as rain pelted my already soaked skin wondering how this had happened, and why here.
It was only a matter of hours before the packs of news crews and lookylues descended on our farm intruding on our space and irreverently scouring the scene for the gruesome details of death and destruction. The pilot and his two passengers hadn’t survived and as they were taken out stretcher by ghastly stretcher, photographers stood expanding the caution tape as far as it would extend to catch the carnage forever on film.
Eventually the ambulances and patrol cars navigated their way from the crash. And much later, though it seemed like forever, even the reporters along with their satellite vans and photographers began to dissemble and slowly slink away. A few days later a large crane was employed to lift the remains of the plane onto a truck and it’s silent pilgrimage home began. Families came out to visit the site, standing over the scarred and bleeding earth that so reflected the scars and blood of their broken hearts. All that remained of their loved ones last moments on earth.
Every once in a while I go out to visit the bush that 3 inconsolable wives who had all too suddenly become widows planted there that day. I slip quietly down the ledge of earth and sit there for a moment at the bottom. I think about my dreams of becoming a pilot. I wonder if I’ll ever get the chance to fly a little plane like that one. If I do I hope my loved ones understand what these men must surely have known; that sometimes a dream has to take flight even if it ends in a crash landing.