“Then, turn around and taxi back down here. We’ll cover you.”
Why don’t I just go round again and come in on 190 like before. It would save a quarter mile of exposure?”
“Because I don’t want you running into us if you can’t get stopped.”
“Hey, we’re not one of General Ky’s outfits. This is AA you’re talking to and we’ve been in here before. Besides we’re not overloaded with opium. In fact, we’re not overloaded at all.”
“That’s not what I heard from Tan Son Nhut, wasn’t it you guys who had to wait for bigger engines to be fitted to get off the ground a year or so ago?”
“No you’re talking about one of Ky’s outfits. We laughed our asses off when we heard that story. Can we land or shall we go round again?”
“OK, you can land on one-niner-zero, just make sure you get stopped.”
“AAUI Coming round again.”
“Gear down and locked,” said the co-pilot.
“Observe gear down,” said the tower.
“Half flaps,” said the pilot.
“Half flaps,” repeated the co-pilot.
“Eighty-five knots”………… Then, “Eighty knots.”
“Full flaps,” said the pilot. “Hang on.”
This time just over the tree tops the pilot dropped us hard on the dirt runway just past the fallen banana trees. The tail came down at almost the same time as the main gear as we nearly grazed the fallen trees. The pilot pushed the throttles against the dash and tugged on a two long handles next to the throttles that said “Prop Pitch.” The engines roared and we were thrust against our harnesses as the plane decelerated violently. About halfway down the field, he pulled the throttles back and moved the pitch handles back where they had been. We idled past the 800 foot mark to the cluster of buildings at the end of the runway.
“See? Nothin’ to worry about. I could put this baby down in Lil Abner’s Dog Patch. In fact I have, just to stop an’ see Daisy Mae,” said the pilot to the tower.
“Glad you’re here in one peice. Have you got the radar man from Saigon with you?”
“You mean Spec. 5 Allen?”
“Not sure. I’ll have to ask Capitan Fiori
“I don’t know who it is supposed to be. There’s two different guys supposed to show up.”
“Well we’ve got one of ‘em. He’s got about 300 kilos with him.”
“Three hundred kilos? Then he’s not staying here with it.”
“It’s equipment not dope. You know, tools n’ such. Anyhow aren’t you guys a warehouse for General Pao?”
By now were were pulling off onto the apron and the pilot pulled close to a building and shut off the engines.
“Staying long?” asked the tee shirted ground crewman.
“Just long enough to unload, Maybe an hour, why?”
“There’s a squall coming in later this morning. If you’re staying we’d better tie you down.”
“Jeez, I was hoping for coffee and pie.”
“We’ll tie you down anyway. Then we won’t have to worry about it.”