"LOCKOUT" - John J. Nance's new aviation thriller is out
Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:31 pm
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From the book:
“Where are we?” Dan asked.
Captain Jerry Tollefson glanced at his copilot, a feral look in his eyes.
“Just inside their airspace. Baghdad is right behind us. See if you can punch up the airport in case we need it.”
“Absolutely we’re going to…”
The rest of the answer was drowned out by a thunderous explosion on the right side of the Airbus and they could feel
the big bird stagger and yaw to the right. Emergency warnings, beeps and horns and messages began flooding the ECAM computer screens.
“What the hell was that?” Jerry demanded.
“No manure, Sherlock! But what?”
“I don’t know…maybe a missile. We’ve lost number two engine, I think.”
Dan jerked his head back forward, quickly scanning the cascading readouts on the screen.
“Yes, number two engine is down!”
“We have a fire light?” Jerry asked.
“What? Yes, dammit!”
“Run the ECAM procedure.”
“Roger. Engine Fire number Two, I have the fire switch for number two, confirm?”
The procedure intimately familiar from training scenarios, Jerry reached his right hand up and touched the same fire switch Dan was pointing to.
“Roger, number two confirmed.”
“Pulling two, continuing checklist. Shutting off number two start switch.”
The sudden feeling of deceleration superimposed itself over all their other senses as Jerry looked with feral intensity toward his copilot.
“No, No, Dan! Number TWO! Not number ONE!”
“I pulled two!”
“We just lost Number One! Confirm the fire switch is in and try a restart…”
“…we can get her back! Quickly!”
Dan was pointing to the forward panel and the depiction of the fuel tanks.
“We’re out of gas, Jere!”
“We’ve run out of fuel. I’ve got all the pumps on.”
Dan leaned left to get closer to the fuel readouts, confirming it. No useable fuel in number one main tank, and essentially none in number two.
“We’re zeroed, Jerry.”
“Oh, hell! But what happened to Two?”
“They shot us.”
“Who? Who is they? Who shot us?”
“Man, I don’t know, but it had to be the Iranians.”
“But I’d just started the turn! We were nose-on to them.”
“I don’t know…”
“Couldn’t be a surface-to-air, we’d be in pieces.”
“Okay, look, we need to maintain control here.”
“I know it!”
“Is she still responding?” Dan asked
“Yes. Sluggish but responding.”
“I’m deploying the Ram Air Turbine. And…we’re depressurizing, Jerry. Oxygen masks on, confirm one hundred percent.”
Jerry let go of the sidestick long enough to sweep on his oxygen mask, checking the 100% position on the selector before resuming his death grip on the stick.
“Comm check, Dan. How copy?” Jerry asked, his voice sounding strange in the oxygen mask microphone.
“Loud and clear. How me?”
“Good. Run the depress checklist, but we cannot do an emergency descent.”
“Hell, no. I got that. We don’t want to anyway. We don’t know the damage.”
“Jump seat on,” Bill Breem, the relief captain, reported, followed by a quick confirmation from the relief copilot.
“Obviously it punched our fuselage,” Jerry added. “Do you suppose we’ve lost anyone back there?”
The question was in cadence with the rapid fire back and forth of the previous thirty seconds but the reality of it stopped both men cold. The memory of the gaping hole that had swallowed nine of United Airlines flight 811 passengers in 1989 replayed in their heads as clearly as if there had been an HD screen on the glareshield.
“No,” Dan answered suddenly. “No, not possible. The pressure loss was slow and steady, not explosive.”
The electrical power flickered and stabilized with a reduced number of instruments, as Dan reached up to start the auxiliary power unit.
“The APU isn’t going to do us much good without fuel, Dan,” Jerry managed, trying his best to grin at him.
“I forgot,” Dan replied, shaking his head at the oversight.
“Is there an airport we can reach?”
“Yes. Baghdad International! Eighty-five miles, heading two eight zero. We’re at thirty seven thousand feet…we have enough energy to glide a hundred and twenty miles, Jerry. So we can do this. Provided she doesn’t come apart on us.”
“You think it was a sidewinder or something?”
“Yeah, a missile, I’ll bet anything. But you’re the fighter jock.”
“Dan, we’ve got to get her on the ground before someone comes back to finish us off!”
“I just hope it’s possible.”