Don’t just wave by Terry Lacey
“Don’t just wave; get out of the way”, the pilot shouted. It would not have been heard by the occupant of the other sailplane as is came towards him at a hundred miles an hour. The pilot could see her smiling and waving as though she had not a care in the world. In fact, they would only miss each other by a few feet, above and below.
The sailplanes were from the same gliding site and were soaring above the Chiltern Hills making use of the high ground to deflect the moderate Westerly wind upwards enabling them to stay aloft. He was making his way to the hill while she was returning to the nearby airfield for a “comfort break”.
He turned gracefully towards the south to make the best of the wind conditions and again marvelled at the freedom of soaring. Only this beautiful piece of white plastic, his skills and a few mathematical equations allowed him to soar above the richly coloured Beech trees below. He could see clearly from Dicot in the west as far as the giant hangars at Bedford to the east. The scene across the Vale was spectacular. Below, only two hundred feet away, he could clearly see the people on the ground enjoying their day in the country. Picnics, children playing couples sitting together engrossed in themselves.
He flew over the emergency landing strip and checked it for obstructions. Most Hill sites have such an area, not always marked which can be used in case of sudden difficulties. The most common although still unusual would be sudden change in weather conditions. Like all other good pilots, he had checked the forecast and all was well for the day. Better safe than sorry. As he turned to take a long look at the site, he noticed a young woman walking smartly across the field. She seemed hurried, even from his vantage point. From the treeline, a man emerged, running towards her.
A couple have fun chasing each other or perhaps a lovers tiff, he thought. The man caught up with the girl and grabbed her by the arm. She turned to face him. The pilot looked round the sky to make sure no other craft were near him and manoeuvred the sailplane to continue watching the couple. They had stopped facing each other and were now walking back to the treeline. All over, he thought. Nice.
The pilot turned to the south once more to immerse himself in the wonders of soaring. As he reached the end of the hill and turned to the north, he saw the girl emerge again from the trees. She was running. The man followed at a pace. As the sailplane came closer overhead, the pilot could see her clothing was tangled and her actions seemed to suggest she was distressed. The man caught her roughly by the shoulders then seemed to strike her. The pilot acted instinctively as he wheeled the sailplane into position for a landing on the emergency strip. The wind now buffeted his craft as came with feet of the ground but he manged to put the glider safely, if firmly, onto the field and brought it to a hurried stop. He leaped from the cockpit and ran towards the couple. She now lay motionless on the ground and the man was standing over her. The pilot ran towards him waving his arms and shouting. From the treeline came a shrill voice. “Don’t’ just wave, get out of the way; and get that idiot away from my film set”.