Spear Garden

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Chapter 13

Straights of Florida

04:10 (09:10 GMT)

June 19th

The missile fired from the other chopper detonated less than thirty meters away. Blake’s chopper shook violently from the concussion. It shook even more as one of the F/A – 18’s blew past him, overhead.

The sidewinder, fired by Lieutenant Luking, engulfed the other chopper into a flaming ball of fire. Aluminum and body parts flew out in all directions and were extinguished as they sunk into the sea, fifteen hundred feet below.

Captain Donaldson shot down the shoulder fired missile from the other helicopter.

“Whoo Hooo….. Red Cloud a flaming! Nice shooting Luke,” called out Capt. Donaldson over the radio.

Luking responded calmly. “CU-H133, you’re on your own now. NAS Key West, this is Gladiators six and eighteen. Target is destroyed, I repeat target is destroyed. We’ll circle until help arrives.”

Jack came back on the radio “Roger that, Gladiators six and eighteen. Target Destroyed. Great job! Over and out.” He continued, “Blake—you ok?”

“Yes, I am. Tell both of them that I owe them a beer when I get in.”

“Will do Blake. What’s your status now?”

More alarms went off and Blake eyes darted across the array of gauges in front of him looking for the culprit. “Jack, the damage I took, did me in. I’m just high enough to be able to get the rotors to auto rotate. I’m shutting the engine down and going in here.”

“Ok, give me your coordinates and I’ll relate that to search and rescue.”

Blake did, and then shut down the engine.

The engine went silent and Blake felt his stomach rise up as the chopper started to fall.

It had been years since he learned to fly and he hadn’t had to fly a helicopter without power since then. He felt a sense of relief after the wind rushed through the rotors and caused them to auto rotate faster as the bird descended. The additional weights in the tips helped to increase the autorotation as it fell. When the blades got up to speed, Blake gained enough control to help guide his heavily damaged aircraft down safely into the water.

The chopper crashed into the water and bobbled momentarily. The restraints pulled hard on his shoulders. Water rushed in at his feet. Which way was this going to roll? He grabbed the backpack that contained the intelligence he’d collected and waited for the chopper to start sinking. As it listed to his left, he climbed over the other seat, ripped the cushion off and threw it out and jumped into the sea.

He swam as swiftly as he could, careful to keep the pack from getting drenched. The heavy rhythmic thump of the blades hitting the water told him he was far enough away and safe from their potential deadly blow. He turned back and saw them slicing through the water on the opposite side of the sinking craft. They came to an abrupt halt when the water’s drag became too much.

His pack was water resistant, but not waterproof. He did his best to tread water and keep the pack over his head. A seat cushion floated nearby. He swam over and rest the pack on it until the search and rescue team arrived.

The whine of the Jayhawks rotors grew louder as the helicopter approached and finally brought him some comfort. A minute later it was hovering above. A diver jumped into the water, followed by a buoy attached to a cable from the helicopter’s winch.

“Are you okay? Are you wounded?” shouted the diver

“I think I’m fine.”

The diver nodded and helped Blake into the harness.

Once on board, Blake breathed a heavy sigh. “Thanks guys. You were right on-time.”

The co-pilot turned back to Blake. “Where to, Sir?”

“NAS Key West.”

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