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I found a single engine plane with the propeller spinning as I was running on foot desperately down the runway. Arid wheat fields, dusty, midday sun. She was slightly in motion as I sprint-hop on to the wing and dive into the cockpit.
A quick assessment of my speed and the end of the runway quickly approaching, I grab the yoke and pull back. Whoa! – Lift off!
In the late 90’s I worked for a construction outfit that would take on fire restoration jobs. This is dirty work in every sense one might think. Not only was it filthy physical labor but we saw a lot of shit. A lot of loss and tragedy in the midst of trying to land a job with a less-than upstanding adjuster that we would in turn draw up a less than upstanding contract with to get the work that would sustain us, sometimes pretty well, in the slower months. The holiday season is rough on construction companies unless you can pick up on this niche. People just love to burn their houses down around Thanksgiving and Christmas and if we’re real lucky there will be some storm damage or flooding too!
The moral-cleansing element here is that at-the-end-of-the-day we did fight for the people who had loss and although they never asked for it, we tried our best to give back something better than they had (provided they were properly covered by the policy). In the very worst cases there was loss of life, and yes, sometimes human life. I’ve been on “board-ups” where we were supervised by forensics guys and told not to ask questions, take pictures or discuss what we saw. If people were lucky in a fire situation; they got out with their loved ones, the one or two irreplaceable things they valued and the house burnt to the ground. I say that because like a totaled car; a complete replacement beats any repair. That unmistakable carbon smell of burnt framing is relentless and a hot summer day it will sneak back just enough to spark gruesome memories.