"Another wet-behind-the-ears flyboy from the RCAF
," said the squad leader, Jackson Polluck. "Put him in the Nik
. He won't do any harm there."
Yeah, yeah, just another brass playing the ol' politics game. I couldn't wait to get into my fighter, though... I was anxious to get into the air with those hot-doggers and show 'em a thing or two. The briefing was dismissed and as I stepped into the hangar, I saw it... the most beautiful, elegant, shining chrome plane I had ever seen, sitting right next to my Nik
. "Nice contrast," I thought. They didn't even bother patching up the bullet holes in my aircraft. One's eyes would also believe there to be blood in the leather, but that is probably the product of my imagination.
There wasn't much action to be seen on the ground this far back from the front lines
, not even an occasional shelling
. I was scheduled to do a routine check over the canyons, making sure there were no enemy aircraft
trying to sneak by.
"More like get me used to the feel of this crate of nails
The shaking of the airframe on warmup should have been my first clue to trouble, but I was to eager to get into the air. I didn't notice the lack of RPM
's, and forgot to apply a brief dose of carb heat
. Here I am, fresh out of flight school, making a common mistake I was warned I would make... Looking back, that was the worst mistake of the day.
I had been airborne for several minutes before I reached the canyon, and I started a banking turn to descend down to it. I had reached the end of the first leg when the stall buzzer
started to sound... Perplexed, I nudged the throttle
ahead, trying to regain some power... but it wouldn't move! I looked down and found I was already at full throttle. The only possibility - carb icing
! I tried to keep up speed with a shallow dive... My mind was racing, and I wasn't thinking straight. Being trapped hundreds of feet above unlandable canyons, with an air intake
frozen solid and stalling at full throttle doesn't do much to keep one calm. What luck
; a brief tail wind
. The prop was practically spinning backwards. Plumetting from the sky kept my speed up just enough to regain some control. Struggling with the stick
, I was able to point myself back home, with a vague inclination to the closest open field.
I had to pull out of my dive, lest I hit the uneven terrain a tad bit early. Immediately the stall buzzer began to sound. I had made several attempts at de-icing, to no avail - the engine simply wasn't getting enough air to provide any power. My chances were better to keep diving than to risk a stall at this altitude - but losing any more altitude would mean hitting the ground anyway.
I suppose I've always wanted to whiz through the canyon... but a running engine would be nice. A chunk of ice must have heard my wish, as my engine suddenly picked up at least 75% power and shot the tail end of my aircraft down like an anvil. The resultant G-Force
rush blacked me out...
The world fades back in... the blue of the cold river
is now above me, not the blue of the sky. I have time to reflect on the days events, and I see the final sunset, glowing red on the horizon.
I wrote this short, short, very short story to demonstrate the dangers of carb icing to aviation enthusiasts in the game World War II Online. It was originally posted on http://hq.wwiionline.com back in 1999, if memory serves. Re-released on E2 for The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest.