What was left of the plane...
(June 2, 2011)
(the end of the airshow)
The volatile aviation fuel mixed with the heat in the compressor of the right engine and lit. The subsequent detonated tore the tail of the F-22 fighter apart with a bone-shaking boom.
The shockwave from the explosion slammed my helmeted head against the instrument panel, making me see stars.
* * *
"COLBY!" Scar screamed.
* * *
I blinked the stars out of my eyes and snatched the controls. I wrestled with the stick, trying futilely to bring what was left of the aircraft back under control. The controls vibrated violently in my grasp as the control surfaces shook in the air.
The F-22 flipped over in the air and I was suddenly looking up at the ground instead of at the sky. My electrical system failed, leaving me without a HUD, radios, of instruments.
When it flipped right side up, I knew that my attempts to bring the aircraft under control were completely pointless.
The airspeed at the time of the engine explosion was Mach 1.6, and door the time the plane had started tumbling wildly through the air, it had fallen to Mach 1.1. But I couldn't risk riding the hulk of the fighter down to subsonic speeds, because the longer I stayed in the cockpit, the likelier it was that the rest of the plane would splinter and crumble.
My gloved hands fell to the black and yellow striped handle between my legs and yanked up.
The canopy of the plane blew off as the explosive squibs embedded in the aircraft's skin detonated. The reinforced polymer of the bubble canopy flexed and shattered in the superheated wake of the stricken jet. Molten plastic rained down on the harbor.
The ACES II ejection zitplaats, stoel ignited, kicking my ezel clear of the plane in a fraction of a second. I never felt the parachute open. My helm hit the jetstream, my head slammed against the headrest, and everything went black.
* * *
Scar was absolutely terrified. She had seen the plane stream thick black smoke from the engine. But she had thought that her mate would have been able to land it safely. But that hope was shattered with the airplane.
"No!" she screamed. Scar jumped off the kap of Jon's truck and barreled through the crowd.
"Scar!" yelled Jon and Uriah. They glanced at each other, then started chasing her. "Scar, wait!"
They chased her through the throngs of people all the way to, and past, the barricades that had been hastily erected to keep the crowd off the runway. Jon vaulted over it, Uriah went under it.
A military MP caught sight of what was going on and hustled over, his hand on the Sig Sauer P226 handgun holstered at his waist.
"Stop right there," he zei sternly. Scar kept running until Jon caught up to her and held her back.
"Sorry, officer," zei Jon. He motioned the MP closer and whispered in his ear. "She's the mate of the pilot who crashed. Cut her some slack, okay?"
The MP nodded once. "My condolences," he zei to Scar. "But I still need u back behind the barricades. The airborne aircraft are coming in."
And so they were. In the distance, Jon and Uriah could see the first of the Raptor's on approach.
Jon picked Scar up and carried her behind the barricade and to the truck. She buried her face in his shoulder and cried.
Jon hesitated, then started stroking her vacht, bont softly, trying to comfort her. "It'll be alright."
A mile of so away, Colby's boots hit the dirt. He collapsed in a heap and was soon surrounded door a Hummer, police cars, and an ambulance. He was loaded onto a stretcher and put in the ambulance, which sped off, sirens blaring.
Jon, Kate, Humphrey, Uriah, and Scar all piled into Jon's truck and followed the wailing siren of the ambulance to Harborview Medical Center in downtown Seattle.