Shoot The Moon
By Dr. Carl Giordano and M. Rutledge McCall (the screen adaptation of which McCall also wrote)
“…terrifying… gripping tale….”
– Martha MacCallum, Anchor; “The Story”/Fox News
“…a book that argues in favor of drawing upon your deepest self to confront life’s toughest battles. A primer in both how to instill – as well as how to access – excellence, this book should be read by everyone.”
– Marion Roach Smith, Author; NPR Commentator; former Staff, New York Times
“…death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
Surgery is nothing like crashing an airplane. But if you’re an experienced surgeon, in a plane hurtling helplessly toward the earth at a speed of one mile every thirty seconds or so, you have it in you to know what it might take to at least be the sole—maybe even walk-away—survivor the instant that plane becomes a slab of twisted, melting wreckage.
But you would always wonder: was it prescience that I survived? Or was it a plain miracle.
* * *
It was a beautiful summer day on the East Coast the 16th of August in 2015. Joe was the pilot, as usual, and I was seated to his right. We were less than twenty-four inches apart.
The single-engine Beechcraft C35 Bonanza v-tail was sleek and sturdy. We had departed from Francis Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, New York, taking a scenic Sunday flight destined for Morristown, New Jersey, just a hop away.
Ten or twelve minutes into the flight, we heard a loud pop coming from the engine area. Then a flicker of bright light flashed from under the motor cowling, followed by a puff of smoke and a distinctive oily odor. Then, like a once-graceful albatross pierced by an arrow in flight, the plane shuddered, and the engine growled and spit and bucked.
Instantly ready to deal with the sudden treachery of the bird, Joe and I instinctively arched up in our seats as if we were anticipating the vertical drop of a roller coaster as it crests a peak and begins its descent down the other side.
But what do you do when you’re more than a mile above ground in the cockpit of a sputtering two-seater missile that is bowing to no will but gravity? What did Buddy Holly think when he was in the same predicament in an older version of the same plane that took his life on February 3, 1959? And how could anyone possibly prepare to survive a violent and fiery plane crash beyond the standard commercial airline admonition to “bend forward and put your head between your legs”—and what good would that do anyway, at more than 100 miles per hour?
Whatever we would do, we’d have to do quickly—we were less than two minutes away from slamming into the earth.
And trust me, you do not have the time or luxury of your life flashing before you when you are facing imminent, violent death.
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