The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER TWENTY

BOOBIES WITNESS ENGINE FAILURE

Amelia sat at the controls of the Electra. She looked down at the gauges. The fuel level pointed at “E”.

She grimaced with concern as she called over her shoulder to Fred Noonan, her navigator. “Fred, what’s our position?”

amelia-earhart-electraFred, a tall, very thin, forty-three year-old licensed ship’s captain and the man responsible for mapping Pan Am’s clipper routes across the Pacific, sat at a small table behind the pilot’s seat. He worked expertly with his map and state-of-the-art navigation tools.

“We should be on approach to Howland Island,” Fred reported.

Amelia strained to peer forward through the windscreen. All she saw was water in all directions. “I’m not seeing anything,” she shouted over the roar of the two engines.

“Try raising them on the blower,” Fred suggested.

Amelia keyed her microphone and spoke crisply. “This is K-H-A-Q-Q calling U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca, over.”

They heard only static in response.

Amelia turned and looked at Fred, who glanced up from his chart, concerned.

Turning back to face the front of the cockpit again, Amelia keyed her microphone. “K-H-A-Q-Q calling U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca or Howland Island. Come in Itasca. Come in Howland Island. Over,” she announced

Again, the only thing they heard through their headphones was static.

Amelia twisted in her seat to face Fred, who shook his head. “They have to hear us,” he insisted. “We’re right there!”

Twisting back and keying her microphone again, Amelia gave any potential listeners more detail, “Coast Guard cutter Itasca, this is K-H-A-Q-Q. We must be right on top of you, but we can’t see you. Gas is running low. Have been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at one thousand feet. Over.”

With the arrow past the “E” mark on the gas gauge, Amelia and Fred shared a look of grave concern.

“Is this it?” she asked. “Is it all over, Fred?”

Fred shook his head and spoke encouragingly. “You’re the world famous Amelia Earhart, first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. You’re gonna be the first female flier to circumnavigate the globe.”

Amelia smiled indulgently. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, but without fuel, this airplane becomes a glider.”

“Then you’ll be the first, man or woman, to glide around the world,” Fred said, trying to remain cheerful, even though he knew their situation was dire.

At that moment, the fuel starved left engine coughed and sputtered.

 

boobies in flight 2About a mile away, Dooley and Talli soared through the clear, bright afternoon sky searching for the key to tell them when and where they were at that moment.

As they flew, Dooley and Talli heard an airplane engine cough and sputter in the distance.

“That sounds like an airplane,” Talli said, excited. “Maybe we’re back in our own time!”

“That sounds like an airplane in trouble,” Dooley corrected.

They searched the sky and finally saw the sun glint off Amelia’s silver Lockheed Electra 10E flying above the ocean. The plane was higher than the boobie brothers, heading in their direction.

As the boobie brothers watched, the Electra’s left propeller stop turning. The sound of the engines diminished sharply.

“It’s not supposed to fly without the propellers turning, right?” asked Talli.

“Right,” his brother answered.

“And if the other one stops, they can’t flap their wings, right?” queried Talli.

“Gonna have to agree with you there,” Dooley responded.

“So,” asked Talli. “What’s gonna happen?”

Dooley considered the aircraft’s predicament for a moment, then explained, “That plane’s gonna become a big, leaky boat real fast.”

Talli watched as the right propeller stopped turning. “Uh-oh.”

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We apologize to our loyal readers for the break in our chapter posts. We had some medical events take us away from our office. We’ll have the next chapter up by this coming weekend. Thanks for your patience.

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