Pilot Makes It To
June 7, 2010 -
Plane Jane, released last week from Martin Pearl Publishing
through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and others, are being sent to
“I’ll be in back
suiting up,” Mary said. “It will be totally dark in about ten minutes.
Drop down to fifteen hundred feet as you approach the end of the runway.
I’ll unlock the rear door, but I won’t open it or jump till you slow to
sixty knots. It’s okay if you stall slightly, just make sure I don’t
have a hundred knot gust sending me out over bandito land, okay?”
“No problem. When you exit, I’ll bank twenty-five degrees and maintain altitude on automatic pilot. Remember——when you’re ready to take off in the Gulfstream, don’t use the radio. Just give me a bleep on your walkie-talkie. I’ll have the rifle in the doorway covering the radio shack and your flight path. Not that I’ll much luck at that distance.”
At exactly eight forty-five, in total darkness, the DC-6 slowed and Mary exited headfirst. She dropped nine hundred feet before opening her parachute, never taking her eyes off the bundle hanging thirty feet below her. From it, a powerful but invisible infrared spotlight beamed down at the ground. As she floated toward earth she used her special vision goggles to scope out the planned drop zone.
She landed in the
dense ferns that grew along the runway, not more than two hundred feet
from the radio shack. With no wasted movements, she pulled a peasant
skirt over her khaki pants, covered her head and shirt with a coarse
woolen shawl and fitted a black wig over her red hair. Slinging a potato
sack containing her tools over her back, she could have been taken for a
village woman walking home from work.
She walked down
the runway toward the Gulfstream as though it was something she did
every day of her life and she fought the worry that nagged at her. These
keys better work. I’m not a fan of lock picks…
No one appeared to
be around any of the airplanes and she heard no unusual sounds, no dogs,
nothing. When she reached the jet, she scanned the perimeter and then
released the holding cables under its tail and wings. Crouching low, she
stooped beneath the fuselage and emerged at the cabin door and inserted
one of the five keys she held. Fucking key, work, work!
Yes! Grinning to
herself, she entered the cabin and closed the door behind her. She
flipped on the main switch and saw that the fuel tanks were full and the
batteries completely charged. She clicked her handheld walkie-talkie to
Forgot to remove
the chocks from the wheels. With engines running, Mary raced outside,
removed the blocks that held the wheels in place and rushed back to the
pilot’s seat soaking in sweat. She screamed, “Full goddamn throttle——go,
you little sweetheart——go, go!” The plane roared down the dark runway
with lights out, racing blindly toward the directional radio beacon she
had placed at the end of the runway, reaching a hundred and twenty knots
before rising into the moonlight sky.
crackled. “Sister Mary, this is Jesus. You have sinned——again.
Say ten Hail Mary’s and I’ll see you in
THE Mexican caper
was just another day at the office for their growing company, Charter
Aircraft Leasing Ltd., or CALL, as it was known in the trade. CALL was
the outfit you contacted if your firm leased an airplane to a client who
decided not to make any more payments and disappeared into the fog of
phony registrations and repainted tail numbers.
Someone had to find and repossess those aircraft, often from criminals, deadbeats and modern-day pirates willing to go to extreme lengths to hide and disguise their booty. Mary, who liked to refer to herself as a CALL girl, and her partner, Jesus Martinez, often took on the repo jobs no one else could handle. The risks had paid off handsomely: in just three years CALL was bringing in more than $10 million in annual revenue. But it hadn’t been easy in the beginning.
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