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Leaving the Isle of San Clemente

Story ID:6714
Written by:Monte Leon Manka (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:retired
Story type:Poem
Location:Hemet CA USA
Year:1970
Person:Lucky Chelsea Kansas Kid-Teamster-11
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Leaving the Isle of San Clemente

Once, on one Friday night
Our air transportation was
A sleek, gorgeous twin engine
Canadian Plane called a “Dove”.

We hauled our dirty laundry
On board this beautiful plane
Found a window seat
Without any mental strain.

Take off was fantastic
Started our climb to 2000 feet
Headed north for Palo Verde
Long Beach Airport is farther to the East.

Barely into the flight
We heard a bumping
As if a motor was missing a beat
And then more thumping

The sound was not rhythmic
Like a motor missing
But maybe two and four thumps at a time
This we hear while listening.

Almost to Palo Verde the pilot banked a hard right
We screamed up the beach to the East
Then he did a hard left bank.
Dropped the wheels to land this pretty beast.

When we touched down
How bad that plane did shake
I said a short one for
The Lord my soul to take.

When the plane came to rest
At the Long Beach Tower, I opened my eyes to peek
The pilot said sorry,
I’ve been trying to get that nose wheel fixed for weeks

Sunday evening I almost called in sick
The thought of flying on Monday
Made me a nervous wreck
But I decided I’d tough it out for another day.

On Monday morning
Took another Goose
The pilot got us airborne
Everything was loose.

Onto the floor
The instrument knobs were falling
The radio wasn’t working properly.
The shape that this goose’s is in was appalling.

The Pilots were all old men
All over fifty
Mostly retired airline pilots
Should’ve felt more safety.

On to San Clemente Isle.
Back to work another week
Then came Black Friday
The day no one did seek..

This ancient plane was waiting
For us to get on board
My first thought was
Is this all they can afford?

With the whole crew,
All our dirty laundry
The plane was at maximum weight
But this was not our quandary.

This old Goose’ wheels
Pulled up just below the wings
It took several minutes to
To retract these silly things.

We flew around Catalina Island
Over the Catalina paddleboat we flew
We were flying so low
I could see the paddleboat’s crew.

As we approached the Long Beach airport
The wheels were slowly coming down
One engine stopped,
We couldn’t safely make it to the ground.

The pilot yelled fasten your seat belts
And started the wheels ascending
Banked toward the pacific
My life I knew was ending.

We barely cleared a two-story apartment house
Barely cleared some sail boat masts,
Dropped the plane into Newport Bay
We were down at last.

The pilot taxied to the beach,
Shut down the remaining engine
Not a sound was uttered
Everyone was frozen.

The pilot told Buddy Wilson to get out of the plane
To grab a pontoon
To keep it from floating
Out into the lagoon.

We all jumped out
Into the water waist deep.
Grabbed a part of the plane
To keep it close to the beach.

The pilot was handing me the luggage
Out of the nose of the plane
I would pass it on to the next guy
We had a regular chain.

I looked at the pilot and said
With a look profound
You did a beautiful job of flying
But I’m happy to be on the ground.

He turned to me and said
Sweat dripping from his brow and nose
You are not any happier than I am son
Then I knew that it was close.

Don, Eddie, Jim and I
Were looking for a bar
To get a couple quick shots
Hoped it wasn’t too far.

As we walked up the beach
Two bathing beauties up did sit
Looka there is the guys that came down
On that plane, see their pants are all wet.

Don Micu looked at her and said
“That ain’t all sea water either”.
We all laughed at Don, we walked on
For a drink we needed a breather.

Dick Brazil picked us up and took us to the Yard
I got into my car and before I drove away
I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me
I sat and thought how lucky I was today.

The planes trouble started
At the airport when filled with fuel
The fuel cap wasn’t fastened tight
By the attendant, what a fool.

As the plane flew along
The wind was siphoning the gas
Out of the tank in the wing
We didn’t have enough gas to last.

We flew low back to Long Beach
To conserve the gas, which was futile
The Pilot only missed the Landing strip
By less than half a mile.

I’m sure that the gauge
That measured the amount of fuel left, was loose
Probably was not working
Like the other instruments on this Silly Goose

Needless of me to say
To you and all my friends, you see
The Good Lord gave me three chances
There’s something he’s telling me. Monte Manka 05-14-06