The Trojan Sea

The Trojan Sea by Richard Herman Read Free Book Online

Book: The Trojan Sea by Richard Herman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richard Herman
Tags: Fiction, General, Thrillers
fly.”
    “That’s neat, Gramps. Can I sit in it?”
    “We’ll see, son,” Shanker said, feeling much better. There was hope for the family yet. They followed the crowd out to the old parking lots, where three generations of warbirds were on display. Shanker paused when he saw the old F-4 Phantom II, and for a moment the memories came rushing back. It was 1972, and he was a young captain walking out to a bomb-laden Phantom for a mission over North Vietnam. “We were young then,” he said in a low voice.
    “I’m afraid you were born old,” a voice with a clipped English accent said from behind him, bringing Shanker back to the moment.
    Shanker turned around. The speaker was a tall, lanky man his age. A mass of unruly gray hair framed a ruddy face, and close-set, bright blue eyes twinkled above an outrageous RAF-style handlebar mustache. He was wearing an olive-green flight suit with leather gloves protruding from a leg pocket. “Chalky!” Shanker shouted. “You old reprobate! The last I heard, you were flying for the Saudis.”
    “I was until they phased out the Lightning and bought F-15s from you Yanks.”
    “Can’t say I blame them,” Shanker allowed.
    The Englishman shook his head. The old, long-forgotten, good-natured rivalry was back. “Who’s the young gentleman?”
    “Wing Commander Seagrave, may I present my grandson, Eric Stuart. Eric, Wing Commander Robin Seagrave, better known as ‘Chalky’ because of his hair, which turned white the first time he flew in a real jet.”
    Eric extended his hand. “Pleased to meet you, sir.” The two shook hands, the Englishman impressed with the boy’s good manners.
    “Eric,” Shanker said, “don’t pay any attention to what Chalky says about the Lightning.”
    “What’s the Lightning?” Eric asked.
    Seagrave laughed. “Obviously your grandfather has neglected your education. Come, I’ll show you.” He led the two to another parking lot, where a jet fighter was parked. “Well, lad, what do you see?”
    Eric studied the airplane for a moment and concentrated hard. He glanced at his grandfather, and Shanker nodded his encouragement. “Well,” Eric began, “I see a single-place jet fighter with a big intake in the nose.” He walked around the old jet and screwed up his face. “It’s got funny-looking clipped wings, almost delta-shaped but not quite.” He smiled. “It’s got a big vertical stabilizer sticking up like a B-52.” His eyes opened wide in amazement when he walked around the back. “It’s got two engines! One on top of the other!”
    “Very good,” Seagrave said. “Right on all counts, except it’s a two -place. The pilot and passenger sit side by side. A bit cramped. Specifically it’s a BAC Lightning, model T.55. Lightnings were in service with the RAF from 1960 to 1988.” He explained how Saudi Arabia had also flown the jet until 1986 and then given this particular one to a group of English aviation enthusiasts for preservation. “Unfortunately,” Seagrave explained, “the CAA won’t allow me to fly it. Never said why. Some bureaucratic nonsense. Probably afraid to make a decision.”
    “Then why the flight suit?” Shanker asked.
    “They will allow a high-speed taxi demonstration down the active. I’ll light the reheat but shut it down at a hundred fifty knots and deploy the brake chute. That should delight the crowd.”
    Shanker was jealous. “You lucky dog.”
    Seagrave wouldn’t let it go and had to rub it in. “Wait until you see my passenger.” He pointed to a young woman waiting near the boarding ladder to the cockpit. “On local control with the CAA. Going along to make sure all is correct. Liz,” Seagrave called. “Someone I’d like you to meet.”
    The woman walked over to them. Her flight suit was molded to her figure, and she moved to an inner music that created an image of beauty and grace. Seagrave made the introductions and escorted her back to the boarding ladder. “Lucky dog,” Shanker

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