DOCTOR HEINZMAN STOOD AWESTRUCK; his gaping eyes jammed open in shock. They had been experimenting with this new technology for years. It had finally worked! Shaking from the strain of squeezing his clipboard, he tried to recall his countless failed attempts. How long had he lived with the huge emotional swings, which came after each minor success and the sometimes-huge fatal failure? The initial euphoria subsided; another feeling come percolating to the surface of his consciousness, a feeling of terror.
"What have I done?" He whispered, as he finally realized the full potential of the weapon that he had created.
More destructive than anything man had, until then, been foolish enough to create.
His eyes were drawn to a man's reflection. The face intently glared at him, reflecting off the four-inch bulletproof glass that had protected them from the successful experiment. He thought about the first time that he had he met Doctor Z, obviously not his real name. He had been approached at an outdoor café in Berlin five years earlier.
"Come work for me." Doctor Z had said which did not sound like a request.
"Finally we have accomplished a miracle, after five long years!" Doctor Z exclaimed.
This man smiled at Doctor Heinzman now. The smirk died long before it got to his eyes, it was a look of pure evil. He was reminded of a line from the Hindu Scripture, Bhagavad Gita, which was quoted by the Scientific Director J. Robert Oppenheimer. It was July of 1945; they had just successfully detonated a weapon at the Trinity test site in New Mexico, the explosion of the Earth's first Atomic Bomb.
"Now, I've become Death, the destroyer of worlds!"
THE SURREAL VISION OF THE glorious sunrise that lay before him on the glowing horizon was a view that could only happen at 40,000 feet. The aircraft altitude allowed nature to display the birth of another dazzling golden disc. Its shine amplified by the contrasting darkness of space, infinitely draped over the blue haloed curvature of the earth. All of this natural wonder provided a kind of shoulder warming glow. It makes a person reflect on all the poor decisions made in your life and realize why you try so hard now to do things better.
Zach suddenly snapped from this soul-searching ambiance when the intercom scratched.
"Feel like another coffee?" The Loadmaster asked him.
It had been a long night; a not so usual, NATO cargos run from Geilenkirchen to Saudi Arabia.
"No thank you," Zach replied. "I am all coffee-ed out."
His warm cozy spell had been shattered. He looked at the eight-day clock and realized that it was time for the hourly 'how-goes-it readings'. The clipboard that held all of the aircraft paperwork was on a shelf beside him. Zach shook the sudden sleep from his bones and picked it up. While recording the engine temperatures on the F-52 chart, his fatigued mind wandered again. It is amazing what the human mind can do, one-half of it accurately doing one job, while the other half drifts. How long have I been doing this? Zach wondered. A Flight Engineer for twelve years and more than five thousand logged flying hours. Who but Aircrew would realize how routine and boring flying could be? Just as well, during the brief exiting moments somebody usually dies.
"How's everything going, Eng?" The Aircraft Captain asked.
Again, Zach startled out of his melancholy.
"Everything is normal, Skipper."
Zach had the feeling that the Aircraft Captain had noticed how sleepy his crew had become. He attempted to strike up a conversation. This would aide his crew to regain their focus for the impending landing. He would bet that as soon as the Loadmaster had delivered the last coffee, his legs would be stretched out on one of the VIP chairs in the passenger compartment.
After another hour had passed, it was time to prepare for the airplane landing procedure. Take Offs and Landings were the two most critical areas of flight. If something were to happen at one of these important stages, the crew would have very little response time to overcome an emergency.
"OK gents, let's start a Descent Check to set up for our landing." The Aircraft Captain said.
Zach picked up the Check List and opened it to the Descent Check section. As they were about to begin the first challenge, the radio crackled, interrupting them; it was Ground Control on UHF.
"Please expedite your approach, after landing, call your Squadron Operations on a secure line." A distant hollow voice said.
The Aircraft Captain turned to Zach and they both rolled their eyes at the same time. The young First Officer noticed this gesture and asked,
"I don't know but this is generally bad news and that bad news usually lengthens our Crew Day." The Aircraft Captain said in disappointment.
After a successful landing, the Skipper and First Officer headed directly to flight planning to find a secure line. This left Zach and the Loadmaster to prepare the airplane for their next flight. Zach finished the External Check on the NATO Cargo 707 and he waited for the fuel bowser to show up. As he was opening the aircraft-refuelling panel, he heard emergency sirens in the distance. Because he was just waiting for fuel, there was ample time for him to try to see what was happening. The sound continued to get louder. It was not long before he saw three black vehicles, surrounded by a police escort entering the airfield. The column continued to race toward him; then as if controlled by some giant remote control, they all screeched to a halt beside his aircraft. Being an experienced Sergeant in the Canadian Air Force, Zach immediately tried to make himself as small and invisible as a six foot, 230-pound person, in a green flight suit could be.
As soon as the automobiles ground to a halt, eight identically dressed men jumped out; these people could have been clones. They were all wearing black suits and had automatic weapons drawn. As they scanned the area, they looked alert and nervous.
Zach froze in his tracks and waited with his hands positioned in front of his body. He wanted to make sure that the anxious Security Team could see he was unarmed, and part of the Aircrew. The back door of the center vehicle suddenly opened and out walked his Aircraft Captain. His Skipper scanned the area; appearing to be looking for Zach. When he noticed where his Flight Engineer stood, he rushed straight toward him. As the Aircraft Captain got closer, he noticed that Zach was about to speak to him. His hand came up in an abrupt gesture, with his palm pointing outward, immediately stopping any question that Zach was about to ask.
"Is the plane ready for flight?"
"No Sir! Still waiting for fuel." Zach answered professionally.
"Get it fuelled and ready as soon as possible!" The Skipper barked again.
Just before he turned around to leave, he whispered to Zach in an urgent tone,
"Forget everything that you see today."
The rest of the vehicle doors opened in unison and four more men, looking identical to the first eight, jumped out. They were escorting someone. When the two groups met, they morphed together. As per the natural, unwritten Military rules of the experienced, Zach watched without watching, under the wing of the airplane. His eyes were centered on a small man, a tiny gray puppet, stick walking in the middle of a sea of black giants. As one, they walked to the aircraft steps, shuffled up them and entered the passenger section. Zach was sure that the Skipper was right; today's activities were going to be way above anyone on the crew's pay grade.
A short while later Zach entered the cockpit, he hurriedly went through the Aircraft Performance Charts, to get the required data that they would need for a safe Takeoff. He charted what the Take off Speed would be, the Four Engine Climb, and then the Take Off and Rated Thrust.
When he had finished the other chart computations, he said to the Aircraft Captain in his most professional voice,
"All the checks are complete and she's ready for flight Sir. The fuel load is 150,000 pounds."
"OK Eng, let's get her flashed up, the sooner we're airborne the better,"
He looks flustered, Zach thought. He had known John Pearson, his Aircraft Captain, for four years now. He was an American who had joined the US Air Force fourteen years ago. They were also close friends outside of work. This was rare because of the military segregation, between Officers and Enlisted Non-Commissioned-Members. Being posted outside of their own country, to a NATO base, had somewhat relaxed those not so invisible barriers.
When you spend many long hours in transit between airports, Aircrew tends to rattle on at times, about their life and family, mostly just to kill the boredom. The human tendency is to expose more of oneself than you normally would.