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Happy Landings

The Chief Photographer (he was actually the only one on the paper’s staff)
grabbed his bag of kit, hurried to the car park and drove off. It had been a nice day
for a change, and he made good time.
Near the airstrip, there was a ludicrous road sign pointing to „The Airport’,
with a pictogram of an aeroplane. Not only ludicrous, but quite un-necessary, as you
could see it from the road. There was a collection of huts, one of which had a bit
added to the roof to act as a control tower, an old red Landrover with a ladder and two
fire extinguishers – a Health and Safety requirement, no doubt, - and that was about
all. One of the huts, near the car park, grandly proclaimed itself to be a „Flying
Training School’ where, for a hefty fee, you could be taught to fly. There were three
or four small aircraft parked near the huts, and Luke noticed one on the edge of the
grass with its door open and the engine running. His, no doubt.
He parked his car, grabbed his bag and ran to the aircraft, waving cheerily to a
man in the control tower who was leaning out of the window. As Luke threw his
bag into the plane and scrambled aboard, the man shouted something, which he didn’t
hear over the noise of the engine.
He slammed the door and climbed into the left-hand seat.
“Let’s go,” he shouted, as he did up his seat belt.
The pilot nodded and slowly taxied into wind.
“Get a move on ,” demanded the photographer. “I haven’t got all day.”
“You want me to take off ?” asked the young man.
“What else.”
The man revved up the engine, and trundled off across the grass. A bit
bumpy and not very straight, Luke thought, but they eventually managed to get into
the air just before reaching the hedge at the end of the field.
The little plane slowly climbed away from the field with its collection huts.
“Shouldn’t we be turning towards the town?” asked Luke, “its over that way, I
think.” He jerked his thumb.
“I normally get to 5,000 feet before starting a turn,” replied the pilot.
“We need to be lower than that,” said Luke.
“If you say so,” said the pilot, and very gingerly turned right. The town was
on the left, but Luke thought that perhaps it was what they had to do because of the
radar or something, so said nothing immediately.
“How low can you fly this thing?” asked Luke, eventually.
“5,000 feet normally, but if you want me to, I can try to go a bit lower.”
“As low as you can,” replied Luke. “I’ll never get any decent pictures from
this height.”
The pilot looked across at him, and Luke noticed that he tightened his grip on
the control column.
“Pictures?”
“That’s right. Pictures.”
“Why?”
“For the newspaper, that’s why.”
“Pictures of what?”
“The flooding in the town,” replied Luke. “Didn’t anybody brief you?”
“Not about pictures,” said the pilot.
“Well, that’s why I need to go low, over the town. For pictures of the
floods.”
“For the newspaper.”
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