The car with the blinking blue light came across the tarmac at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport, toward Dave’s twin engine airplane, and then turned left and went away. Dave and his passengers — the lawyer, the mother, and the four-year-old son she had rescued, would not be stopped, questioned, detained.
Brother Dave quickly took off.
But just as quickly he asked Hobby Tower for permission to return and land. His landing gear would not retract.
Dave began negotiating the return and, at the same time, going back over his check list: Lights on, check; fuel pump on, check; generator on –No, wait! — he hadn’t turned on the generator and without it there was not enough electricity to run the gear retracting motor.
Another mistake. He had been awake now for 32 hours.
Dave flipped the switch with “GEN” printed on it and heard the familiar hum of the landing gear motor pulling the landing gear up into the wheel wells.
They were on their way home.
The same wind that had held his plane back 12 hours earlier was now pushing it toward Charlotte at a ground speed of almost 230 miles per hour.
At 3:58 p.m. the Baron touched down at Charlotte Douglas International and after a short taxi Dave shut the engines down at Thurston Aviation, 16 hours and 13 minutes after they had left.
During dinner that evening the phone rang and Bob and Anne had a conversation that totaled just five words.
“Do you have Britt?”
“Yes,” Anne replied.
Six weeks later Bob took his own life.
Coming Friday: Sallylicious