Thursday, October 08, 2009

A further note on this whole John Denver business

My friend Joe, who, if he does say so himself, knows whereof he speaks, writes, from somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard:
Because I’m all about historical accuracy, and it’s what I do, John Denver didn’t slam into the side of a mountain. He crashed into the Pacific after running out of fuel. Current wisdom is that he lost control while reaching for the fuel tank selector lever. Not that it would have made a difference as he had run both tanks dry.
One could argue that crashing into the Pacific and crashing into a mountain are more or less the same thing. Still, it's good to have the record set straight.

My father used to tell me stories about the war from his hospital bed. One goes along these lines:
I was doing a training mission at a base in southern California and the landing gear jammed in the up position. The tower told me to circle for as long as I could, then, if the gear were still stuck, point the thing (a B17) towards the Pacific Ocean, engage the autopilot and jump out the door.
Obviously he had a parachute.

Who knows whether this is just an old war story or if it really happened. He was making less sense towards the end of his life. But he did say that it was the only time, other than the initial parachute training exercise, that he jumped out of a plane. And one can certainly envision less attractive circumstances.


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