Crash Guard – Short Story
By: Alan Place
The story I am about to tell is a real tale of mystery, I know it happened as it happened to me during my Royal Air Force days and will be expanded in my new book about the times.
We were called out from RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland-now defunct with cutbacks in defence-to travel to RAF Bulmer, Northumberland on a crash guard as one of the Jaguar fighters from our base had crashed into a field nearby.
I never found out the true story, but the semi-official version was that the pilot came out of a roll and seeing a flock of birds, he pulled the stick back to go over them, but being upside down he went into a deadly spin. He ejected safely, but came down in the fireball as the plane hit the ground, his co-pilot came down in trees nearby and was picked up by men from the Bulmer rescue crew and sent back to get on the next flight available before there was time for the horror he witnessed to sink in and cause a seizure.
Our crash guard didn’t arrive until a day later, by which time most of the large debris was collected and the black box was examined, on our arrival at the camp we were told that a crash guard had to be mounted so no piece of debris could be taken by the public as a souvenir. Our home for the guard was a tent in a field, some of the guys on the earlier shift had said there was a pub about 400 yards down the road from the site and on my first night I went to investigate, what they didn’t say was it was on the right of the field and I turned left.
During one of the shifts something scary happened, which in the light of day we laughed at, but you need to put yourself in my position to get the effect.
We were on a crash site, and although we had been told the body had been taken away before we arrived, there was an aura of dread about the fields. The night was dark and my only light came from my flashlight as I patrolled the beat, with no concerns that anybody would be around as it was so late; when I heard a rustle under the large tarpaulin which covered something, as I shone the beam the tarpaulin rose and I made a run for the tent, when I dived in I said to my colleague, “There’s something under moving under the tarpaulin.”
He started to put his boots on and said, “Okay, let’s go and have a look.”
Shaking, I replied, “Be buggered, you can go if you want, I’m not going out until daylight.”
All through the night I had images of a burned pilot struggling to get free from the tarpaulin as his body lay mangled and trapped.
Daylight slowly dawned and after a strong mug of tea, my colleague said, “Do you want to investigate the tarpaulin now?”
“Yes, it isn’t so bad in the light,” I replied.
So, we left the tent and walked the few yards to the tarpaulin, on arriving at the tarpaulin we saw there were two large things sticking up-obviously what scared me-so, we had a look, what it turned out to be was the hooks for the brake chutes. The metal ropes had sprung up over night; we did have a good laugh about it in the daylight.
But, imagine the scene on a cold and rainy night with only the beam of your flashlight to guide you, out of sight of the beam, anything might be lurking.