Tyler had always wanted to fly. His earliest memories of flying were jumping from the wash-house – a building attached to the run-down shack where he was bred and born.
To attempt his first flight, Tyler had acquired a bedsheet, some string, and lots of toweling to soften the impact of his planned landing. At the same time that he was gathering up his flying equipment, Tyler was also learning the craft of his other penchant, borrowing without the owner’s consent, or as it was explained to him later – thieving.
Tyler’s first flight was easy to prepare for. At the age of ten, he tied the four corners of the sheet to the extremities of his four limbs; then, in the age-old fashion of space flight, he began his countdown. Ten, nine, de dah, de dah… two, one, fire! Tyler didn’t exactly jump, more dived – horizontally, and that was his mistake. If he’d angled his launch to, say, even five degrees from said horizontal axis, he may have made it without going to the hospital. But, no vacuous space to create lift had been created above his form, and, consequently, Tyler bombed, straight down, landing on his knees and palms. He broke both wrists, and dislocated one knee.
That inaugural flight taught Tyler two things. Firstly, most folk have sympathy for others in distress. Secondly, if you’re going to steal, don’t get caught with the goods. Neighbours cried for him in his agony, then ruminated over his method of stocking up on his flight equipment. His tender age dissuaded them from calling the local Sheriff.
Two days after his eighteenth birthday, and one day after his father had left the family home. Tyler went for a ride, a joy ride. His father’s parting shot to his mother had been something like, “Go have intercourse with yuhself! I’ve done my bit. He’s grown up now. He can look after himself. In fact he could probably have fended for us all better than I did – if we’d let him.”
Tyler had comforted his mother for as long as it had been necessary – five minutes; on the sixth minute, Mother rang a local guy that she’d had her eye on for months. What the hell! ‘Old Moan-a-Lot’ was out of the way now, so, she was entitled to enjoy herself. God worked in mysterious ways, but, essentially, she reasoned, he was good. Tyler agreed, and helped his mother find her make-up bag.
Tyler went to bed that night, amused. Life sure was funny. Here he was fixing to leave home, just as soon as he was legally old enough, and what happens, his old man does the only good thing he’d ever done in his life – deserts his wife, who hated his guts anyway. This way, Tyler and his Mother would get all the state benefits available to families in distress; rent, free milk, free bus rides, free… yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.
What happened on what police referred to as ‘… the night in question.’, was never fully verified. Yes Tyler had stolen a car, yes he’d been chased by the police, and yes, Tyler had slowed at a bend to let his teenage girlfriend out. In fact, Tyler had pushed her out. He knew he was old enough to go down, and he was going to go down in style.
Throughout the police chase, Tyler had driven to the sound of his own commentary. Along with the flying lesson he’d received for his birthday, Tyler had years of experience on every type of plane built since the early nineties. Amongst others, he’d flown twin seated Cessnas into Chicago, O’Hare; 747’s into Stanford, Florida; and U.S. Air Force Tomcats into battle. In the five years that he’d had the flight simulator programmed into his P.C., he’d completed every twist, turn, and dive, in every conceivable situation. In every variation of the emergency landing, Tyler had scored high. He was the main man.
Calmly, he checked fuel, revs, warning lights, then let out the clutch. The Subaru Imprezza dazzled teenage onlookers as the gold wheels spun in the reflected light of the street lamps. He waited until the Black and White was in catching distance, then took off. The smoking wheels, and the screaming engine gave him a high stronger than any drug he’d ever had coursing through his veins.
Shifting through the gears, Tyler hit third in three-point five seconds, then said, “Rotate” as he pushed the stick into fourth. That was it, man, lift-off!
The Subaru screamed down Main Street, and Tyler continued the commentary; ‘Undercarriage up, flaps up, flight attitude five degrees, seat belt signs off. Cabin Crew, you may now serve meals.” His grin split his face, as he watched the chasing Highway Patrol car.
Tyler toyed with his pursuers. He knew the backwoods better than most folk in Petite Ville. He sure as hell knew them better than two city cops.
Tyler shot out of the wooded area and onto a dirt track. Within ten more seconds he was onto black-top roads, and judging the distance between him and the road-block ahead. He went through his landing routine, “Undercarriage down, flaps fifteen degrees, seat belt sign on.” then slowed to one hundred miles per hour.
The blow-out in the front off-side tyre brought out the automatic response of a seasoned pilot. “Abort! Abort landing!” Tyler gunned the engine, and surged to one-hundred and ten miles per hour.
The road-block had been deliberately positioned fifty yards beyond the speed bump, in an effort to end the situation peacefully. What actually happened was that the twenty-degree gradient on the bump launched Tyler on his greatest flight ever. Tyler flew for over sixty yards. Over the police road-block, during which they said that they could see the astonishment on his face, over the meat wagon waiting to take him to jail, and over Maguire’s Creek, just past the bend in the road.
The explosion, they said, could be heard back in town. Tyler’s flight had landed in two places; the rear of the car in a ditch this side of the levee, burning; the front end of the car in a copse against one of the oldest trees in the county. Tyler had gone from over one hundred miles an hour, flying speed for a twin-seat Cessna, to stop, in three seconds. His smashed-in face could not disguise the smile.
Tyler had achieved his dream. He’d really flown solo.