The B Team



All characters that appear in this chapter of B-Team are my own. I can personally affirm that this story is based in fact, although a different type of aircraft was involved and the location was half a continent away. My special thanks to Tigermark for his continued assistance, participation, and encouragement in the crafting of this ongoing story.

The B Team is copyright The Silver Coyote
2003




Playing In The Sun

 

This is the image that originally inspired me to write this story.
It is another from the collection of Scott J. Gager's C-130 Hercules Headquarters, still the best C-130 resource on line.

 

They were close enough to the ground to catch brief glimpses of the upturned faces belonging to furs inhabiting the various farms and villages they flew over.

In the old days, back in the twenties, furs with iron constitutions and little money had flown around the country in aging trainers left over from the Great War. Former fighter and bomber pilots with nothing better to do, they took residents of the small agrarian communities of the midwest for rides aloft, or perhaps put on small airshows for the villagers by looping and spinning their wood and fabric air machines. For this each spectator might be expected to pay a nickle or dime, a rider might be expected to pay fifty cents or a buck. It was an almost decent way for an aviator to make a living back then.

Jennies, they called those old trainers. Slow and cumbersome biplanes of light and flimsy construction, they were easy to fix and drank little gas. Designed for use on turf airfields, the Jenny could use any cleared bit of field or dirt roadway for a runway, as long as there were no fence posts or telegraph poles nearby. A fur with lots of ambition and a little charm could get by moving from town to town, accepting meals from folks who had never seen an airplane before. The pilots slept in the barns or homes of their audiences, or maybe under a wing on a pleasant summer evening. These furs sometimes developed brief love interests along the way, but most of them lasted perhaps a day or two, and then the aviator would move on. Always there was the drive to earn money to keep the gas tank full, always the undeniable quest to see what was over the horizon. And very few of the farm girls wanted to leave home in a noisy, vibrating machine full of cold, moving air which blasted them at sixty miles an hour on a calm day.

These aviators were a hearty breed of furs called "barnstormers", and they introduced America to aviation in a way no Donald Douglas or Howard Hughes ever could; up front and personal.

Perhaps there was a bit of barnstorming blood coursing through Joe's veins that day. If there was he had no knowledge of how it might have gotten in his system, none of his relatives had been aviators except his father. Looking at the glow in his eyes and the silly wide grin plastered on his muzzle, though, one could almost imagine him in a little leather flying helmet with goggles, a long white silk scarf fluttering in the slipstream behind him, enjoying the breeze of the open cockpit.

But there was no open cockpit. This was no Jenny Joe flew. Jennys didn't burn kerosene, and there would be no earthly reason for any Jenny ever built to need four throttles.

A cloud of dust followed them across the Nebraska corn fields, the dry stalks waving and bending in the propwash of the four shrieking Allisons and the roaring, rushing air of their passage. The Bitch was upon and beyond her ground-bound audience before most of them even had time to look up. For the most part she terrified only the birds and small animals and rodents, screaming through their rural lives like an airborne locomotive.

On the flight deck Joe hand flew The Bitch, his left paw casually caressing the yolk, his right paw full of throttles. His ears were up, his nose twitching with excitement, his tail thumping gently against his seat frame. At two hundred feet and one hundred seventy five knots they were making good time, although their low altitude was costing them some fuel efficiency. At that moment Joe couldn't have cared less, he couldn't have been happier.

To Joe's right Rick appeared to be in a very similar state, relaxing in the co-pilot's seat with his arms at his sides, gazing out the windshield. Rick also sported a wide grin on his muzzle, his eyes alight with joy. He and Joe both were diligently watching the sky ahead for conflicting traffic, and the radar was active in target search mode. It would not do to find any of the local general aviation aircraft in the vicinity the hard way. The radar was a good hedge against that.

Behind them Steve and Slam both faced the windshield, also sightseeing. Steve had a small digital camera in his paws, and would occasionally lift it to his eye and look through the viewfinder. He had already taken a couple pictures of his crewmates living it up.

###

They had been on the haystack for almost an hour. Love came early on the plains, and the sons and daughters of farmers were limited in their opportunities to explore the emotions and desires that churned and threatened to boil over in their souls. The unseasonably warm sun and clear skies had worked their magic on the couple now murmuring sweet nothings in each other's ears.

The collie was only fourteen, but she looked much older. She was a good pup, she loved her parents and her home and her life. But lately this particular wolf had caught her eye, and she had become infatuated with him. She had agreed to "the haystack" with minimal persuasion.

The wolf was fifteen, a solid, strong farm fur. Handsome in a plains sort of way, the collie was his first real love interest. She had practically leapt at his offer of "the haystack", and they had quickly found themselves out here, far from the nearest home, in each other's arms, deep in the hay.

As the sun had warmed their bodies and the giggling had given way to kissing for longer and longer periods of time, items of clothing had gradually become "unnecessary". The collie and the wolf had become totally engrossed in each other. They lost track of the sun and the sky, the birds overhead, the soft breeze moving through the corn stalks, the gentle buzzing of the insects. Time stopped for them. They had only eyes for each other.

This particular kiss was threatening to become a record-setter. The eyes of both were closed, blissful expressions on their faces. Yet in the middle of the moment the wolf's ear twitched, and his eyes opened to look at his surroundings as the kiss continued. Some part of his brain registered an odd whistling sound that he could not identify. Leaning back slightly from his collie love he asked in a hushed whisper "What's that?"

The collie giggled, thinking he was referring to something far more personal. "You don't know?" she teased. Her ears could not yet detect what the wolf's heard.

In less time than it takes to tell the whistling became a rush, the rush became a roar, and the sun blinked. In that moment of shadow the hay exploded around them, rising in a series of mini tornadoes all around them. The tornadoes took the cast-off clothing up into the sky, scattering them far and wide in the maelstrom. Huge vorticies of dust and hay rolled away from them. The noise split the day, the wolf actually winced in pain as his ears registered the audible overload. A hot, odd smelling wind blasted down upon them, following the source of the sound away while sucking their bodies off what was left of the haystack. They slid to the ground in a heap.

"What was that?" the collie cried, terrified.

###

"Hey!" Rick yelped in surprise. "Gratuitous sex, six o'clock low!"

"What?" a chorus of canid voices from behind asked in surprise. "Where?"

"You're kidding," Joe said, glancing at Rick out of the corner of his eye. They were now about a hundred feet up. Joe eased back on the yolk slightly, the altimeter began to wind up slowly.

"You didn't see them?" Rick asked incredulously. "Those two in the haystack? You probably parted their hair!" Rick grinned almost evilly.

Impulsively Joe pulled back a little harder on the yolk, simultaneously leaning the transport into a left bank as he nudged the throttles forward a bit. He grinned back.

###

"What is that thing?" the collie whined in fear as they watched the big gray aircraft pull up and to the left, trailing faint smoke trails from each of it's four engines. Bits of hay fell gently from the sky, landing all around them along with items of clothing.

Acting the master of understatement her wolf boyfriend replied "An airplane." He continued to stare at the turning C-130, temporarily forgetting that he and his collie girlfriend were almost completely naked there on the edge of the cornfield.

"I think it's coming back..."

###

"See?" Rick was half out of his seat, pointing across Joe's chest to the port side windows. "Down there! The haystack closest to the edge of the corn field." Rick bounced slightly. "See 'em?"

Slam and Steve crowded the windows behind Joe's head, noses to the plexiglas.

Joe nodded. "Contact." He glanced at the badger who was still crouching above his seat, looking past Joe to the view outside the port side windows. Geeez," Joe chuckled, "sit down, Rick. Take it easy..."

The C-130 had risen to about five hundred feet. Joe let off the back pressure on the yolk, and the altitude held steady at five hundred feet. As they swung around back towards the haystack in question he aimed a little wide to the right, pulling back slightly on the throttles.

"Gentlefurs," he smiled grandly, "prepare to orbit left!"

###

The roar filled the sky. The huge aircraft was higher now than it had been. The wolf and the collie could see that it wasn't coming straight for them, but was heading off to one side a bit. As it approached their haystack the wing suddenly dipped steeply towards them, and the machine began to turn in the sky overhead. And turn. Right around them. The sound was incredible, they could feel it in the ground!

The machine pirouetted above them like a great, ugly, metal ballerina, twirling on the wing pointing at them. The sunlight glinted dully off the prop disks and various flight surfaces, occasionally making the aircraft difficult to look at. But look they did, the collie and wolf together, staring up slack-jawed at the roaring gray beast invading their sky above their impromptu nest.

Their eyes and bodies turned with the airplane, always facing it. They could see faces in the windows looking back at them. One of them was holding something up...

###

"Nobody would believe this..." Steve muttered to the back of his digital camera as he looked through the viewfinder.

Click

Slam giggled, and then broke out in a hearty laugh. "A haystack! I've never tried that..." he managed to say before laughing so hard he couldn't speak.

Click

Rick and Joe were quiet, each automatically falling into the role demanded by the task at hand. Joe watched his "pylon", the haystack he was making the C-130 fly a coordinated turn around. The wingtip appeared fixed with respect to the haystack, the port wing always pointed right at it.

Rick stole quick glances to his left and down now and then, but for the most part kept his attention divided between the targeting display on their radar and the horizon in the windshields, looking for traffic. He knew the digital images Steve was making would be passed around freely at a later time.

"Good call, Rick." Joe mumbled on the intercom as he nodded slowly.
Rick grinned that almost evil grin yet again.

Click

###

The big gray machine continued to circle overhead. Suddenly the collie's brain shifted gears, and she became quite aware of why this airplane was flying in circles. Around her. At an extremely low altitude. She slapped her boyfriend on the arm as she dove for the cover of what was left of the haystack.

The wolf glanced briefly towards her as she dove, and then he looked back up to the huge transport. He squinted his eyes. That bastard's got a camera! He carefully formed an exaggerated paw gesture with his index finger raised and held his paw aloft to the crew of the airplane.

###

"Ah. That's a keeper!"

Click

Steve grinned to the back of his camera again.

"Is he doing what I think he's doing?" Joe asked, trying not to laugh himself.

"Yep," said Slam between guffaws. "You're number one with him, Joe."

Click

"Furs, salute!" Joe took his right paw off the throttles and smartly saluted the wolf below. As he did this an ever-so-brief flicker of a memory crossed his mind, for a split second he saw a tiger striped T-38 in his mind's eye.

Steve held his camera in his left paw and saluted as well. Slam, recovering from his belly laugh, crowded against Steve at the window and also brought his right paw to his forehead. They completed almost three quarters of an orbit holding that pose, the entire time they could see the remaining face below staring up at them, paw held high in that other famous gesture.

"Uuhh... guys?" Rick interrupted the fun. "Incoming traffic form the north, on the surface."

"Surface?" Joe asked.

"Looks like a pickup truck. He's about a mile off, maybe a mile and a half, heading towards us. Looks like he's got his foot in it."

"OK furs, we're buggin' out!" Joe manipulated the yolk once again.

###

The wolf watched as the C-130 suddenly rolled wings level and began a gradual descent towards the ground as it departed the area. As he watched the craft recede the wings rocked gently back and forth a couple of times. Left..., right..., left..., right... And then it was gone over the horizon, the roar of the engines fading in the distance.

He stood there staring at the horizon over which the aircraft had flown for long moments, until he heard engine noise behind him. Expecting to see the transport sneaking up on him from behind, he spun around with his paw coming up, the gesture ready once again. He was startled to see the collie's father staring at him through the windshield of his pickup truck.

"Frank?" The older collie asked curiously, a look of amazement on his thin face.

"uuhh..." the wolf's brain stumbled momentarily as the farmer climbed out of his truck.

"What in tarnation are you doin' out here, boy?" the elder collie demanded as he looked around, surveying the damage to the haystacks nearby. The elder collie's eyes returned to the still dumbstruck wolf. "And where the Hell are your clothes?"

 



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