Urgent Call

As you’re flying south, an urgent call comes across the radio, a different operator this time.

“Thunderbolt. We have reports of archie in your vicinity. Abort mission. Abort. Over.”

“What the heck is archie?” you wonder, when suddenly black fireworks explode all around you and something smashes into the aircraft. The pitch of the plane’s engine changes markedly.

“Mayday! Mayday! I’ve been hit!” you cry.

The altimeter dial is spinning out of control as the plane plunges downwards. The only static instrument on the dashboard shows the date: 13/11/1943.

“I’ve been hit! Over!” you repeat.

“Ba..ng ou..t … ba..ng ou..t …” comes the scratchy voice across the radio.

“What does bang out mean?” you wonder, flicking switches at random.

There’s a loud clunk and the base of the aircraft shudders. A red light next to the switch labelled landing gear flashes.

Great. The radio’s dead and the landing gear’s cactus too.

Hoping against hope there are friendly troops in the area, you flick the radio button on and off in the Morse code sequence for SOS: dot-dot-dot dash-dash-dash dot-dot-dot. It’s about as effective as tapping it out on the side of the bridge which is only metres below you.

Across the river you see a paved concrete path. You line up with it, hoping that it will provide a smooth landing for your crippled aircraft. The plane lands, lurches and skids until it hits a yellow structure.