|Like Old Love, Plane Cannot Be Forgotten
By Ted Crowley
photos to enlarge
high pressure and rising. Warm humid air over Newcastle. Visibility 300
metres. Wind speed zero. The sea, calm as spilt milk. A haze, bordering
on fog, out beyond the red buoy, shrouds the horizon. Stifling, torpid,
nothing flying; neither bird nor plane nor windsock.
Suddenly, out to sea, a wounded aero-engine, revving and spluttering,
is heard. Out of the haze, a strange old craft, an ancient amphibian, single
prop, facing backwards, emerges; ghostlike, choking and coughing. Clearing
the railway line, it limps north, to port, and loosing height, it finds
Newcastle’s long runway. Eric Hopkins hurries out of its path. It lands,
gasps, feathers, and limps to the hanger. Two men are safely ashore.
route from Belfast to Wales, the plane lost oil pressure and was forced
to ditch into the sea off Newcastle. Dublin’s air traffic control alerted
Hopkins, and the Wicklow inshore lifeboat. Downed but not out, the thirsty
engine fired again. It taxied, and sucked itself from the sea. It staggered
into the air. Without the aerodrome at Newcastle, that plane was doomed.
Without the calm sea, without being amphibian, and without Hopkins’ aerodrome,
it was doomed.
I heard the story of that ancient craft. Away back, in the days of her
youth and Hopkins’ youth, he had flown he. And then, when least expected,
out of the sea, out of the mist, and out of harm’s way, suddenly, she returned
to him, when she was unwell, like a lost, but never forgotten old flame.
Now, two weeks later, she’s still there, as if she cannot drag herself
How manly romantic is that?