As the plane roared through the thin air it's passengers turned pale and gasped for breath. Suddenly, Karl yelled, "An engine is on fire"
HONOLULU was fantastic. It was a perfect beginning for our tour. After drawing what the promoters told us was "a record crowd" at our Honolulu concert, we had three carefree days in which to swim, surf and get a tan. Back on the mainland, our good luck continued as we enjoyed playing for knock-out crowds in San Jose and Los Angeles. When we finished L.A., we boarded - along with fellow artists The Animals and the Three And A 1/2 - the private Martin 202 plane we had chartered. That's when the trouble began.
He hurried over to Eric and Johnny and, with help, assited them forward where two tanks of pure oxygen were produced and masks were slapped onto the boys' mouths. Within seconds, they were breathing normally - and, oddly enough, so was everyone else on the plane. You see, for the rest of us it was mostly panic that was causing our short breath and gasping. However, a third bottle of oxygen was passed about among us, as the pilot explained that we had scaled the mountains and were about to make a steep descent and an emergency landing at Farmington, New Mexico.
"I want to be sure that Johnny and Eric are O.K. before we fly on to Denver," he said. "I am radioing below for a doctor to be on hand."
Well, wouldn't you know our troubles were still not over! After a hair-raising dive toward the runway, we leveled off to land. Suddenly Karl yelled, "An engine is on fire!"
I looked out the window and sure enough - fire and smoke were coming from one of the engines. Once again, I was terrified. I looked at Lek, who looked back at me as calmly as you please. It was like being inside of some crazy dream.
When the plane came to a stop, everyone rushed to the door; which was at the back of the craft. I had been sitting forward, and I just had to wait and wait for everyone to get out. It seemed like hours. Finally, we all huddled together in the small airport waiting room - and the pilot came in. He had a very firm expression on his face. Slowly, we each looked at one another - and all at once we felt very guilty. "Men," he said, in a pleasant but sarcastic way, "the doctor is taking two of the Three to the local hospital. Eric is all right. I have loaded more oxygen on the plane and we are now departing for Denver. If, for any reason, the air gets thin again, please keep your seats and don't panic. There is plenty of oxygen and we are more than adequately prepared to take care of all of you."
He started to walk away, as we exchanged sheepish glances among ourselves. Then, he turned and added, "As for that engine 'fire' - you'll see 'flame-out' on both engines when making a short, fast ascent or descent over an airfield. You should all know that by now."
Back aboard the plane, we revved up and took off - with a very sharp ascent. And - guess what? - he was right. The "flame-out" was there. But we weren't scared. We knew what it was!
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