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West Wind SPC - Caravan Crash, 1985

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Thirty five years ago..... I was at Rome in Benny's 182, sitting in the students position next to Benny. At some point he really started working the radio; I could see his lips moving but not hear a damn thing, you all who also have hearing loss know what I mean. He'd reach down and change frequencies talk. listen, talk, change the freq again and occasionally look down at me and smile. The he turned in the seat and yelled "hey fellas....." we looked at him, then he said "never mind". The four of us shrugged, tightened the straps, did the pin checks, popped the door, don't remember if there were any corrections needed. Benny was pretty good about lining up on jump run.

We launched a four way, maybe turned a few points, and once under canopy Benny was already on the ground parking the airplane. That was unusual as Benny generally landed about the same time we did. We did bandanna accuracy for beer, daisy chained the lines and went to the packing area in front of the hanger. Benny then made the announcement about the crash. 

Cowboy. GDMF Cowboy. We called him 'Bullet' as he tended to tear through formations and cut people off when landing. One day the Beech at Westwind lost an engine on take off. We had just hit the hump to launch and there was a loud BANG. The Beech was plowing through the tree tops with the operating motor acting like a great big weed eater. At about 1200 over who knows where the co-pilot who would go on to fly for Delta yelled for us to get out now!  Everyone, except for Cowboy, who started yelling he'd be the last one out lined up and bombed out quietly and in order of seating from back to front. I landed in a front yard. I've never seen so many power lines before. 

I loved Jeff, what a genuinely decent guy he was. Soapy was like a dutch uncle, and I hit unsuccessfully on Carol. That xmas I was going to give Ann Neil Diamonds Greatest Hits because she hated Neil Diamond. I admired all the Techies, so smart they were. I ate at Paul's restaurant, too. All dead well before their time because of Bullet's greed and willful stupidity. 

Thirty five years ago, and I still miss them, and it still hurts.

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