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“Harwest Radar, this is Yardfly three four one niner at flight level one five zero. I have Airbus 310information Echo. Is it wet down there?”

“Yardfly three four one niner, radar contact, Echo is current, descend and maintain five thousand feet. Proceed direct INGAR.”


“Yardfly three four one niner. Waypoint INGAR, confirm my instruction?”

“Yeah alright. It was pissing down in Rome.”

“Yardfly three four one niner?”


“Yardfly three four one niner, confirm my message. Course correct to INGAR. Go right zero three zero.”

“Is INGAR that flashing thingy?”

“Yardfly three four one niner, you will have instrument confirmation for INGAR. Descent to five zero imperative. You are too high.”

“All right, all right!”

“Yardfly three four one niner. Correct your course to heading zero three eight. You are in conflicted airspace.”

“Listen Harwest Radar, don’t get pissy with me. I’ll do it in a minute, okay?”

“Yardfly three four one niner, Alert. Descend immediately twelve zero. Go right heading zero three niner immediately.”

“Make up your mind, it was zero three eight just now. If I push….”

“Yardfly three four one niner, do you read?”

Shit, what was that?

“Yardfly three four one niner, you were on course intercept with Speedbird two three zero.”

“No problem. I missed him.”

“Not by much. Will you hand me over to your number two?”

“I AM the number two.”

“I see. Where is your flight captain?”

“In the bathroom. He ate the Sushi.”

“Will you send your cabin crew to get him out of the bathroom for me?”

“I tried that. He’s groaning a lot. Why aren’t you using my call sign anymore?”

“Tower has given us use of this channel. Your descent is too rapid. Maintain six zero.”

First you want five thousand feet, then you want twelve thousand, now you want six. What’s a boy to do?”

“I’m going to get you down as soon as possible. Maintain ten zero and look for waypoint MARGO. Wait a minute – I know that voice. Is that Desmond Hardaker?”

“Oh, my god! Brenda?  Brenda Schulmann?”

“None other. What are you doing up there? You were cabin crew six months ago.”

“Well, I’m in the little room at the front, now, sweetie! Wait a minute – is that MARGO flashing at me?”

“You’re missing it to the south, but never mind. I guess it helps if Daddy owns the airline, doesn’t it?”

“Now don’t be a jealous bitch! I did the course!”

“I don’t know how. It usually takes two years even if you have a current pilot’s licence, which you didn’t. So..”.

“Well, darling, let me tell you, there’s a perfectly adequate course with Mgabe Airlines and you can pass it in three months if you cram. So less of the green envy, now. At least I’m not stuck in Air Traffic Control. Shouldn’t I be looking for another waypoint or something? I wouldn’t want to hit anything, now would I?”

“If you can find it, set course for IPSEL. And no worries about other traffic. Everyone else has left the control area. Three months! How can you cram a commercial flying course?”

“Simple. It’s all done by correspondence, Bren. Absolutely wonderful – you should try it!”

“I don’t think I will. I quite like ATC. Are you and Bobs still together? Has he still got that dreadful acne?”

“Bobsy? Don’t! Oh, he was so neurotic, that boy! Do you know I had to stop driving him to work. It was awful, darling. He just sat and shook like a jelly, all the way. He used to go quite white sometimes. Didn’t you say we were the only flight in the control area?”


“Then why is there a dreadfully big Airbus alongside me on my left?”

“Shit! Go right zero nine zero, cleared to three zero!”

“It seems to me there’s far too much poo around your airport Bren. You worry too much – don’t get your knickers in a twist, dear. There! You’ve sent him away now, haven’t you? Do you know who that was?”

“Don’t pretend you could see into the cockpit! You can’t have been that close!”

“Give me a minute, there’s something flashing at me. I think its anti-stall. There. And yes, I absolutely could – it was Carl – you remember; that dishy pilot we met at St. John’s graduation party: oh, sweetie, what a night that was! Anyway, he recognized me. He was waving, isn’t that nice?”

“I was just talking to him Des.  That wasn’t waving.  Listen, we have to get you down right away. You’re cleared to course one eight zero. Descend to three zero, alright?”

“Must we? We so rarely get the chance to catch up. I hate this bit.”

“What bit?”

“Landing, darling.”

“Was it a weakness in your simulator training?”


“Never mind. You’re cleared to land on runway twelve. You have wind zero four zero degrees, six knots. Begin glide path.”

“Let me see, I have to put the wheels down, or something, don’t I? Speed one five zero. Super. Runway twelve? How do I know which is runway twelve?”

“It’s written on the end. Oh, and Desmond?”


“There’ll be a lot of fire engines and things about. Okay?”

“Gorgeous, darling, I simply love firemen! Fifteen hundred and descending.”

“Des, you’re a little low.”

“Looks fine. Altimeter reading one thousand. What do I do to switch off that stupid buzzing?”

“It’s your altitude warning. Des, you are too low! Abort!”

“There’s so many red lights in this thing – how’s a boy to concentrate? I’m over the final markers. Height five hundred. Perfect for zero feet slap on the end of the runway. Leave it to me, Bren, dear. All under control!”

“Des, your altitude meter registers height at sea level.”

“Do you  know, I often wondered?”

“Yes. This airport’s elevation is three hundred and twenty two feet. Pull up! Abort!”

“Des? ABORT!