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   California Dreamin'
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Page Two

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A few days later found the `A' shift finally on Catalina Island.

"I can't believe the time flew so fast!" Marco remarked.  "I really
thought we were never going to get here!"

Several of the men laughed and nodded their agreement.

Roy spoke up, "It was really getting tough around the station.  I
guess we just really needed a break from it all."

Johnny backed out of the tent he had just finished setting up and
chimed in, "I'm sure glad we're here but I'm even happier
the hang gliders worked out.  I'm really looking forward to learning how to soar through the sky."

The Phantom had remained quiet until this point, deep in plotting
revenge on Mike.  He couldn't resist taking a jab at his favorite
pigeon and taunted, "You know,.. it's just as well we're all here, Johnny.  
With your luck we'll end up having to rescue you and take you to
Rampart while we're supposed to be on vacation.  Maybe with all of
us, you'll manage to stay out of trouble."

Johnny gave Chet a glare, then uncharacteristically dropped the
subject, instead grabbing his canteen, camera and backpack.  
Inspecting his backpack to be sure he had snacks, first aid supplies
and a spare pair of socks, "I'm going to head up the west trail.  I
want to get some pictures of the lake from the viewpoint."  
Whistling, he headed up the trail, Mike and Marco falling in behind
him, leaving Chet open mouthed in shock.

Captain Stanley looked at the departing trio then he turned to Chet
and said with a saucy grin, "Well, Chester B, you've been put in your
place!  You're going to have to..."

From :  Roxy Dee <>
Sent :  Friday, May 26, 2006 2:50 PM
Subject : Catalina Charms~~

"...bite the bullet this trip and content yourself with being
just Plain Jane for while. They're onto ya." Hank winked.

Chet froze, where he was fussing with assembling his
orange and white hang glider. "Oh, so you think that, huh.." he
murmured blandly. "Well let me share something with ya, Cap.
There isn't a prankster born who can outfox me for long.  Yes,
Stoker christening my turnout jacket got past my guard
and defenses. That was only because his illness was real, Cap.
A touch of the truth always catches people by surprise and yes, I
fell for it. It wasn't like I hadn't been warned ahead
of time that he was going to sick up real soon. Stoker was
cement slurry gray, sweaty, and to go along with those, were
full blown shivers. It was my own fault that I chose to ignore those
obvious nausea signs in favor of emotionally worrying about a
pal of mine instead." he shrugged mildly.

Hank's mouth fell wide open. "Kelly, do my ears deceive
me? Are you admitting to having made an actual mistake?
G*d, I wish the others were here to witness this." he crowed

"I'm here.." said Roy, poking his head out of Johnny's
tent. "And I heard every word he just said. Booga booga."
he said monotone, splaying lame spooky fingers at Chet
in mock jest.

"Oh, Roy. You don't count. You never gossip about someone's
failings. You're too d*mned honest for your own good." Chet
told him.

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"Ixnay on the wearsay ordsway." DeSoto hissed through his
teeth, pointing at a mound pressing against the rainfly of his
tent as a flaxen haired head emerged into the daylight.

"I heard that.." said Chris DeSoto, his voice newly deepened
into a light baritone with growing puberty. "Yeah, Chet, nix the
swear words. I still don't like em, even though my ears aren't
nearly so young any more these days." he said, crawling out
of his father and Johnny's four man tent.

Chet scoffed, mouthing an apology to Roy silently before
saying his next retort. "Ah, from the mouth of babes. Er, excuse
me, let me formulate a correction here.. At least from one with
some very first time sprouting peach fuzz.." Kelly said affectionately,
rubbing a few fingers under Chris's barely hair bristling chin.

"Aw, Chet. Cut that out. I'm thirteen. Dad says I'm finally a teenybopper.
And that's somewhere where I'm not a child anymore but not
quite an adult." said the blond haired Chris DeSoto.

"Then what are you...?" asked Chet in a spooky voice.

"Hungry. Who got the short end of the toothpick this morning and
earned first cooking of the chow? I'm still growing like a weed
here,.." Christ said, dragging out a first aid pack to inventory its
contents carefully. "And I'm feeling every growling roll of my
poor bile and acid filling stomach."

"Eeooow.." teased Chet, curling up into a look of disgust.
"Do sons of paramedics always become so gifted with the
more medically graphic turns of phrase. Yuck. You're spoiling
my appetite."

"Oh, so I guess that means you're 'Cook' today, eh, Mr. Stanley?"
smiled the teenager, correctly guessing the one so stuck.

"Please, Chris. Call me Hank or Cap. Everybody else does."
said Stanley.

"All right. Guess I'm just used to being polite all the time.
Especially out in public." replied the junior DeSoto.

"I can fix that trait in a jiffy. Just start hanging out with me, kid."
said Chet.

Roy smacked Kelly's arm meaningfully. "Not in a million years.
He's going flying with his grandfather this morning, right after
stuffing some food into that fuzz growing face of his."

"Dad...." Chris frowned with a blush. "I did try to shave it all off
like you showed me."

"You're doing better. I'm not seeing any nicks I gotta treat on you
this time." Roy teased.

"Grandpa let me use his straight razor. It works a lot better than
those cheap plastic Schick things you like to use.." said Chris.

Roy cleared his throat self consciously, "Yeah, well, I'm
not a fan of antiques like your grandfather is, son. I
happen to like a lot of speed and convenience for my dollar."

"Grandpa Ian says 'Waste not, want not.' " chimed the half teen,
crossing his eyes at DeSoto.

Roy made a face right back at his first born. "My way doesn't
need a whetting strip of cloth..."

"Yeah?" answered the teen in challenge. "Well, your way needs
a sink. Mine doesn't. A straight razor's perfect for camping."

"You got a point there. Guess I lose." sighed Roy.

Stanley choked down a snort of laughter. "Ian DeSoto? Where's
he off to? I didn't see him at all this morning after I got up."

"Oh, my dad? He usually gets up before the sun to putz with
his airplane. I think he took a shuttle to the landing strip at
first light." replied Roy with a shrug.

"Oh, then I'm late!" startled Chris, shooting to his sandled

Roy grabbed his son by the arm. "Not so fast.. Is everything
accounted for in the emergency jump bag?"

Chris was quick with his reply. "Everything but the oxygen key.
I think Uncle Johnny left that clipped on his backpack by mistake.
I saw it hanging off a zipper tab last night."

"I'll get out a spare." planned Roy. He let go of Chris's soccer
shirt sleeve. "Ok, you can go. Mind your grandpa."

"Yes, dad."
Chris snatched up his handheld radio from the picnic table
along with a canteen and rain gear and started up the long dirt
rutted trail leading up to the Airport in the Sky five miles up the

Cap called out after him. "Hey, what about breakfast time?"

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The freckled boy who looked a lot like his firefighting father, grinned.
"Flying is flavoring, Mr. Stan-- uh, Captain. How can you feel hungry
looking at such a stunning sunrise as that, sir?" he asked, pointing
at the brilliant dawn spreading out over the ocean waters stretching
far below their pinetree strewn ranchland campsite. "There's not a
single solitary speck of smog in the air. And I wanna absorb every
second of it from deep inside a Cessna's cockpit at a thousand feet.
Gotta go!" and with that, Chris was gone in a stirred up cloud of dust
left behind by his running feet.

Cap chuckled at the same time as a coffee sipping Roy who tended
the black and white flecked western enamelized tin pot still simmering
on the fire grill. "Now where is that crazy partner of yours dragging Lopez
and Stoker off to?" asked Cap.

"Off to the 'lake.' Well, actually, it's more like a desert rock rain collection
pool in a cave system just over the hill. It's deep enough for swimming,..
And at the top of the gorge along the flat sand dunes--" Roy broke
off as Stanley got the picture and the idea.

"'s great for learning how to hang glide using the land/sea breezes
sloping down to the beach. Outta sight." Hank said contently. "Say,
can you pour me a cup of that Folder's? Smells good."

Kelly looked up from a finally completed glider assembly. "Let them
swim first. I don't care. My butt's gonna be the first one in the air.. Last
one to the cliff tops is a rotten fireboot!" he shouted, hefting up his finished
hang glider in a triumphant display.  He hooted all the way up Johnny's
trail catching up to the others who were heading for the slit in the
cliffside which led to the swimming hole.  

"Bring your radio.." Hank Stanley shouted, throwing a bit of captain's
gruff which turned his reminder into a sharp edged order.

"It's in my windbreaker, Cap. I'm not that dumb.." Chet shouted back.
"See ya on the next airport shuttle back up here. My landing strip's
that beach you're gaping at, directly below us. My guide promises
I'll make it easily."

"Let's hope so." Hank countered.

"I KNOW so.." Kelly shot right back. "See ya.."

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From: "Cory Anda" <>
Date: Mon May 29, 2006 6:37pm
Subject: Payback's a b*t*h  

"Ah, this is the life, fresh air, pine cones.. It's gonna be great."
sighed Lopez at the edge of the swimming hole.

Gage grinned, chewing on a blade of grass taken from a niche in
the rock..." What is it? It's a.. It's a...."

Stoker piped up, sleepily from where he napped in the sun.
"It's a thing of beauty."

"A thing of beauty?" grunted Chet as he made a sudden appearance
from the crack hole in the rock which served as the tourist's entry
into the semi-secret red stone grotto framed around the deep green
rain and spring fed pool.

"Yeah, a thing of beauty.." insisted Marco in a glare, part reminder for
Chet to stop the scuffling noise he was making. He eyed the harness
around Chet's torso. "So,.. you're going to go do it after all."

"And why not?" Kelly straightened up selfconsciously on the shelf
he had deposited his trail sweaty rear on. "Johnny's hang gliding
idea was the best one he's ever come up for a vacation plan
since Santa Rosa County.." he beamed happily, rubbing some island
dust off of his nose. "That is,..if I ever get to cool off first. I didn't know
June out here gets so darned hot. And windy. I had to leave my glider
tied to a tree to keep it from blowing out to sea on me."

"It is a desert climate, Chet. Don't you know your California island
meteorology?" Lopez retorted.

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"Enough to know that today's a good day for flying." Kelly said.

"Oh?" Gage sniggered. "Who else bought your fly like an Catalina
osprey invitation besides yourself?"

"Chris and Ian DeSoto. Only they're doing it by cessna." he
said. "Both should be at the airport right about now, making preparations
for takeoff."

"Yeah, well, I'm doing another kind of takeoff." said Marco, peeling
out of his Los Angeles Raiders jersey and jeans shorts down to
his swim trunks. "Who's up for some good wholesome cliff jumping?
The water's deep enough. You can see all the way down to the bottom.."

Stoker, Gage, Lopez and Kelly curled their toes on the rock ledge they perched
upon, peering down distastfully. "You first.." said Gage. "That way, if you
don't make it, the rest of us can climb down and rescue you long before
you start drowning."

"Ok." said Marco in challenge. "This spot's not so high. What?.. It's about
eighteen feet up?"

"More like twenty.." grinned Stoker in a gray tank top and navy baseball
cap, plying his hose distance measuring skills easily.

"You can't leap off from way up here.." said Chet, growing disconcerted.
"This cliff's not a nice safe diving board. You'll shred all the skin off
your legs and bare feet for sure."

"Watch me.." Lopez shot at him.

"Oh, believe me, I will.." Kelly fired back. "And I'll be anticipating just
how long Cap'll shred you verbally too, if you go and hurt yourself for
doing such a crazy stunt."

"Marco's all right, Chet. The water depth's just fine.There aren't
any rocks jutting up from the bottom." Mike offered.

Kelly fell silent, casting a still half worried look down at the sun glistening
pool below them.

Then Mike inserted a jokester's expert priming with one stylishly cool
phrase. "Pollo Pequeno.." said Stoker smoothly. "Bet you can't do the same
dive.." he dangled. His words hung in the moist steamy air and echoed off
the rocks.

Gage began to chuckle.

That did it. Chet's mouth set in a firm line. "Ok, Stoker. You're on. Ready to
rumble? Let's do this then.." and he mock spit into his hand pointedly,
"..mano a mano. Marco, you be our height tester, but don't jump off. Just
let us know where the safe places are so we can complete this little contest
without killing ourselves horribly in the process or getting unfairly reassured
by having someone else jump down before us."

"You're on.." Marco crowed with excitement. "Stoker versus Kelly. On the high
dive.. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Say you two dive up to.... " he cast his gaze
around the red sun glowing grotto.."that little gnarled bush up there as the top
most challenge. Ready? Line up your toes on the mark, boys." he said, scuffing
a sneaker in the sand on the ledge hanging over the water. "May the best"


Stoker neatly swan dived from the second to the last shoe Marco had perched
on a fold in the ribboned cliff face. His body sliced into the water like a knife and hardly made any splash on the way in.

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The gang leaned over semi fearfully from the newest height to make sure he
surfaced once more.

Mike's head broke the surface. "Ok, Chet.. Your turn. Are ya gonna do
the ninety foot leap off or not? I'm tired of waiting for ya."

Kelly licked dry lips from where his lily white toes gripped the narrow
ledge he was leaning for dear life on.

Stoker taunted in good humor once again. "Are ya gonna let me pull
one over on ya once again like that day I stared down a gun? I'm
still laughing about that, Chet. No longer blushing.." he said, squirting
mirthful water out of his mouth playfully as he treaded water.

"I'll do it. I'll do it. " said Chet. "Just to shut your yap. Don't rush me!"
he shouted punily down from his great height.

The rest of the gang began to catcall and jeer with the rest of the tourists
in the grotto who were watching with shivering can't-watch captivation.

Gage shouted up one more time. "I can always swim out there and
catch ya!" he gestured at Chet.

"I'm not a cheater..." sputtered Kelly from up where he was. Marco and
Gage looked like ants to him from his perspective. "All right, I'm going.
If only to shut you up once and for all.." Then he lost his balance
before he could leap away from the ragged rock face as his foot

Johnny shouted. "Look out, Chet! Turn yourself! Turn yourself.. you're
in the wrong position to hit the wat---!"

SPLASH !!!!  !!!!   Kelly went, landing fully on his stomach, his legs
and arms splayed stiffly. Then his head and body disappeared beneath
the alkaline surface and his leap's violent ripples started to die away.

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"Oooo.." Lopez grimaced, grabbing his own midsection in empathetic
sympathy. "What a belly flop..." he groaned.

"Stoker, do you see him?" Johnny shouted down. "Is he ok after that one?
It's been taking longer and longer for you guys to swim back up to the

Mike circled in a three sixty right where he stationed in the pool, eyeing
for movement from below. "Still seeing a bubble column. I think so."

Seconds dragged out into a full minute.

The gang became increasingly anxious until finally, even Mike began
shouting. "Chet? Where are you?!"

Johnny and Marco both leaped into the water after Mike to begin
a search.

Thirty horrifying seconds went by while all of them started to hyperventilate
for frantic search dives.

Then...  a curly mop broke the surface. "...OwwWWWww. That one smarted
like h*ll!"

Gage frontstroked over to Chet quickly and took him by the shoulders
and gripped an arm across his chest in a hold. "Chet, are you ok?! You scared
the sh*t out of us. Mike's still down there diving after ya.."

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"I'm fine." Kelly said drolly with a shrug. "Whatever gave you the idea
that I wasn't?"

"Your delay underwater.." said Marco.

"Geesh, guys. What do you think I was? Born yesterday? My sister and I used
to intentionally belly flop when we were kids to see how much water we could
displace out of the swimming pool. We used to laugh at the lifeguards
while they yelled at us for doing such a dangerous stunt.
I know how to fall that way without ripping my guts open.."

"Well, he doesn't know that.." Johnny gasped, letting go of Kelly, pointing
down to Stoker's bottom sweeping underwater form.

"Perfect.. Guys, I'm gonna hide. Keep on pretending to look. Let's
scare him real good. Remember, I got some payback time coming for him
puking on me last week."

Gage broke into a grin. "Guess that's true. Ok.. go back down there.  
Pop up again after a longish minute or so. He should be good and riled
up by then enough to satisfy honor."

"Cool beans.. If Mike doesn't laugh after this, then I know he's still messed
up from that gun call. It'll be our daily psych check on him. Thanks, guys,
in advance." And with that, Chet took a huge breath of air and returned to
the depths beneath the ledge to wait it out.

When the joke was sprung in the end, Johnny and Marco both sighed in relief
when the shy trademark smile spread over Stoker's face when he realized
that he'd been had most thoroughly.

"You got me, Chet. Ha HA!" he said, shaking water out of his eyes while
catching his breath back. He let the others haul him out of the water to
recover. "Man, guess we're even now on the joking oneupmanship.
I didn't know you had it in you.." he crowed. "I never thought you'd pull your
revenge out on me while we were still on vacation.."

"Yeah, well live and learn.." Kelly said, holding out a hand of apology for
scaring him.

Stoker took it warmly while he shivered in the beach towel
Marco piled on top of his head. "You know what this means though."

"No, what?" said Kelly.

"It means I get to pull another joke on you now, too, during vacation.
Watch your back, then, Chet. Because I just might be right behind you
when you least expect it."

The smile wiped clean off of Chet's face.

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From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Fri Jun 2, 2006  4:15 pm
Subject: Here's To Chips and Wings..

"Aw, don't take it so hard, Chet." said Marco, patting the curly haired
fireman on the back. "It's not like it's the end of the world, you know."

"No, but it's the end of me being able to completely relax myself.
I won't be able to let my guard down for even a second now." sighed
Chet, staring at Mike Stoker's sunburned back as the engineer dried
himself off with a beach towel.

"Poor baby. Here, have a coke." said Johnny. "The sugar in it'll calm your
nerves down." Gage nudged an icy glass bottle against Kelly's
shoulder in emphasis.

Kelly jumped at the bone aching chill branding his reddened
skin and he snatched the bottle out of Johnny's hands in irritation.
"So who won? Me or him?" Chet grumped.

Lopez shared with eagerness.
"It was a draw. You both leaped off at the ninety foot mark."

Chet wilted in fatigue, letting water droplets drip down off his hair and
onto the cold stone beneath him. "Aw, man.... really? I put everything I
had into beating his smug little a---"

"Now, none of that. Why don't you go warm yourself in the sun at the
top? It'll loosen you up a tad. I'll walk up your lunch as soon as Mike
and I get it ready. And I promise I won't let him get any opportunity
to lace it with jalapenos from Marco's provisions pack." Johnny

"Thanks, I'm counting on you, Gage. Don't mess up here or I promise
you, you'll never hear the end of it." Chet warned quietly as he painfully
buckled his sandals and put on a hawaiian shirt.

"Geesh, what a grump.." Johnny frowned as he and Lopez watched
Kelly stiffly make his way up the narrow path leading out of the swimming
grotto. Then Johnny started laughing. "Maybe I should slip some aspirin
into his potato salad for all those sore muscles of his." he chuckled
to the other two.

Mike piped up as he pulled a T-shirt on over his goose pimpling skin.
"Let him suffer until sundown. Then tend to him. He scared the sh*t out of
me by staying underwater like that for so long."

"All right. Makes sense to me. He's only gonna get even MORE sore after
getting in that hang gliding session today." Johnny nodded.


Chet Kelly was almost dozing.  Almost...

One eye was sealed shut and the other was scanning the pure blue skies
morphing clouds overhead.

He could hear Sonoran bumblebees and smell California lilacs in
full bloom on the breeze. The spicy scents of toyon and oak intoxicated
him where he snugged face down on a hot boulder to ease his still
smarting stomach. He knew that he'd have one h*ll of a bruise there
by nightfall.

He lazily surveyed the canyon and near distant Mount Orizaba, until his
hand brushed something coarse and very sun warmed by his feet. He
picked it up and studied it. ::I wonder what this rock is? Lava? It's so

A scuffling on the trail behind him made Chet scramble to his feet and
get under a mesquite bush. He held his new found soft rock cocked
in ambush while he waited for Mike Stoker to appear....

A firm, strong nose on his shoulder made him fly forward in complete
surprise and Kelly fell onto his back, facing the sun.

'Snort!' huffed a truly massive animal. Kelly scattered like a crab away
from the shaggy beast, still hefting his tan rock pathetically until his head
impacted against a leather boot. Chet looked up, rubbing his scalp with
a free hand.

It was Johnny. And he began to laugh. "What's the matter, Chet? Haven't
you ever seen a buffalo face to face before?"

Chet shot to his feet. "That's a...  a... buffalo? H-Here? But ..but ..but, this
is an island, Gage. Who'd ever release and leave those monsters to fend
for themselves way out here?"

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"The Conservancy, Chet. Catalina's eighty eight percent wildlife land now.
Don't worry. I don't think he's gonna charge. He's not jaw chomping nearly
enough." reassured Johnny, who seemed expert on that kind of thing.

To Chet, Johnny seemed even more Native American right then to him
than he'd ever had before in recent recollection. ::Maybe him being
near that buffalo, wearing those chaps, helps with the effect.:: Kelly guessed.

Johnny thought Chet was still petrified with fear so he pointed to the ground.
"Didn't you see all of their footprints around here? This is perfect bison

Kelly didn't answer him. He still stood frozen, eye to eye with the
mildly curious, cud chewing bovine standing only thirty feet away from
the two firemen. It was well concealed by natural camouflage in the heavy
mesquite scrub. "Nice, big cow.." Chet soothed the placid bison

'Snort!' it answered, sending up a cloud of desert dust from
its coat.

"Easy boy.. I'm not gonna--" Kelly started to say.

Gage interrupted him.

Johnny looked down and eyed up Chet's geological curiosity, noticing
it for the first time. He gripped Kelly's wrist and turned it over, studying Chet's
odd rock with a growing amusement. "Hmmmm. I didn't know you
liked to collect buffalo chips to go along with your western era barbed wire
collection, Chet. This one's still fresh."

Chet gagged with a cry and dropped the crusty lump instantly.

He groaned in disgust while he immediately began wiping
both of his hands off onto his equally dusty shorts.

Johnny smiled even bigger when Kelly went running back to the
swimming grotto to wash the dried buffalo dung off his palms.

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Chris DeSoto was as excited as he could be. He had found
Ian DeSoto just in the nick of time.

His grandfather had completed his walk about his airplane,
paid the tie-down and landing fees, and now he was on the radio
with the local coastal air control tower situated in Long Beach.
"Unicom tower, this is Alpha Tango Charlie 11795, requesting
clearance for take-off on runway 22 with two souls on board."
said Ian with a wink at Chris, belted in the front passenger seat.

##You are clear for take-off, ATC11795. Note your MSL approach  
is North 33 by 24.30 and West 118 by 24.95. Altimeter ground level
is 2602 feet. Nearest traffic is 7 nautical miles due SSE
at 1120 feet. Current weather shows a building but weak
low pressure 40 miles west into your direction. Wind is 20 knots WSW.##

"Confirmed, Unicom. My transponder is actuated. Thanks for the update."

Chris smiled in wonder as the older man put on his helmet after hanging
up the radio receiver mic. "What was that all about? That sounded like
LAX. It's seems so remote here on the mountaintop, grandpa.
I didn't know anybody was even watching us."

Ian laughed out loud. "We're still too close into the coastline
to not be worried about the other ten thousand and six airplanes zooming
through the skies over our heads." he explained. "You're forgetting
that all the airliners loop out over the ocean on takeoff from Los Angeles.
And that puts a plane into a trajectory that clips Catalina Island's local
airspace once every minute and a half."

"Really? Where?" said Chris, pressing his nose against the windshield
of his side of the little white cessna in a careful search.

"Right there..." said Ian, pointing down towards the ocean.

Chris's mouth flopped open when he saw a red tailed Northwest plane
angling out over the sea in a turning arch to gain altitude away from
the unseen skyscrapers of Long Beach, L.A. and Torrance. "They're
below us?"

"Yep. The approach end of Catalina's runway 22 begins at the edge of
a 1500' cliff. This gives the airport some characteristics similar to landing
on an aircraft carrier that is 1,602' in the air." said Mr. DeSoto.

"Wow. Needle in a haystack! What else is weird about this airport?"
asked Roy's oldest.

"Well," said Ian, taking his aircraft into a taxi mode ahead of the other
tourist planes, idling with spinning props for their turn to use the runway.
"This runway's first 2000 feet slopes up and the remainder of it is level.
Pilots can't see aircraft on opposite ends of the runway due to its
gradient. There've been plenty of accidents on this course. On landing,
that strange upslope creates the illusion of being higher than you really are,
tricking inexperienced pilots into flying its approach too low. They then
encounter the steep dropoff at the end of the runway which always
creates significant downdrafts and turbulence, often exceeding some of
the smaller aircrafts' ability to climb."

"Isn't that dangerous?" frowned Chris, adjusting the radio mic over his
mouth around his bulky blue helmet.

"Nah. Unschooled pilots are never allowed to fly to Catalina, Chris.
That optical illusion's overcome by using the altimeter, and some focusing on
only the first few hundred feet of the runway. And you can back yourself up
using VASI during the approach. Most pilots only see half the runway when
aligned with it in takeoff position, See us right now?" he asked, pointing
out ahead of them. "Pilots on their first time here have induced a takeoff
stall as they panicked by pulling up near the mid-point of runway, thinking it
was the end."

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"Well that's dumb.." said Chris, turning his head.

"What is?" asked Ian, keeping his eye on the jumbo jet's comtrail he could
see climbing out over the ocean nearly at their same elevation.

"There are no mid-field or distance remaining signs for the runway."
said the teenager.

"I know. This airport's private, Chris. Hard to raise funds for aircraft services,
FBO, fuel, and maintenance if you don't have airfares. They've just
the landing fees to rely on." said Ian. "A cute reminder of that is the fact
that we find rocks fallen on the runway all the time. Makes me glad sometimes
that they have their full stop landing ordinance absolution. Are you ready?
Get set for a strong downdraft at the approach end of the runway. It's
caused by the prevailing winds falling over that monster cliff out there that
we can't see yet. Be prepared for a dive, Chris. Catalina's downdrafts are
notorious. We might suffer a loss of altitude during our short final."

"I'm set, grandpa. Let's fly.." smiled Chris. "I trust you."

The small airplane soon launched herself into the great big blue
sky surrounding them, heading out over the longest width of rugged,
high peaked Catalina.

Image of catalinaavalonairport.jpg Image of christeenblondeboyclose.jpg Image of catalinaislandaircraft.jpg

It was about three hours before sundown. Kelly had convinced Marco
to fly for the first time with his morning hang glider guide, Kip.

"All right, I think that's it. I think we got everything.." said Chet, growing

Cap frowned as he eyed the row of cloth and aluminum framed gliders
lined up on the highest dune of Ripper's Cove. "What's all this stuff?
I thought we were just going camping.."

Kelly looked at Marco. "Oh, you didn't tell him?"

Marco said. "I thought you did."

Hank narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Tell me what?"

Chet fidgetted under his captain's withering look. "Well, we're
going camping. But we also thought we'd do some hang gliding."
he grinned warmly, adjusting a wire's tension on his glider.

"Oh, you mean 'we' as in you and Lopez. Because I tried this craziness
once and I'm not gonna go do it again." Hank said, looking uncomfortable.

"Aww, don't be such a bab-- uh, stick in the mud." said Johnny to Stanley.
"It's gotta be a lot of fun."

"It's a great sport, it's a..." Kelly said, trailing off as struggled to think of
an expression that covered what he was feeling about flying.

"A thing of beauty.." piped up Gage as he saw others circling gracefully
in the clouds above them over Avalon. "Wow.. just look at them!"

"A thing of beauty, huh.." parroted Cap doubtfully, shaking his head in
soft sarcasm.

"You're gonna be thanking us come Monday." Chet reassured him.

"Ah,..after a surprise like this, I doubt I'll be talking to either one
of you guys." Stanley grumbled.

"Don't worry. I thought ahead.." said Gage. "Just in case you change your
mind, Cap, I brought you a glider."

Cap laughed in his face. "John, there is no case, no possible scenario
that will EVER... get me to jump off a cliff again without a rappelling rope.
Honestly? I thought you guys would try to pull something like this. Come
on, come on, let's go. Let's get back to the campsite and get Roy. I wanna
grab another drumstick or two off the barbeque. I'm still hungry."


An hour later, Kelly strapped himself in with Johnny's help.
"Cap, are you sure you won't change your mind?"

Hank chuckled from his portable camper's chair. "I was about
to ask you the same thing."

Chet was eager to talk about how his morning flight lessons had
gone. "Ah, there's nothing like the rush of leaping off that cliff, Cap.
Get this for me, Johnny, will you?" he asked Gage, pointing to
his radio helmet's strap.

Hank was thoughtful. "Listen, uh.. If you guys really wanna die so
bad, I got assigned a golf cart rental with no brakes."

Kelly, Chet, Johnny and Roy laughed at the invitation.

"Then don't drive it." DeSoto smirked.

"Walking's good.." Hank nodded in instant agreement.

Kelly wove his story about his lesson with the artistry only a new
time hang glider could create, eyeing up Cap especially.

Johnny merely listened in with fascinated horror.

"You take off a cliff, drop for a couple of seconds, the wind takes hold.."
Chet grinned. "It's a.. what is it?" he gestured gimme fingers at
the eager listening Marco.

"It's a thing of beauty.." said Kip, the hang glider guide strapping
Marco into his harness attached to his own in a tandem knot.  

Hank was beginning to see the attraction. "A thing of beauty.." he
mumbled finally in a quiet admiration.

Chet picked up his solo glider's wings by the flight bar as Johnny
stepped away. "Come on. Get out of the way, Gage." he shouted
impatiently, grinning like a banshee. "Kip. Marco.. I'll see you
up there!" he shouted, running for the dune's high edge.
Soon, he was airborne. "Yeah.. wooo! " he said as he
drifted away on an uprising thermal. "I'll catch up with you
later!!" he shouted back down to the ground at Cap.

Image of chethangglidingdune.jpg Image of chethanggliding.jpg Image of roywryoutside.jpg

Once Lopez got over his fright of being strapped like a mummy to
something without an engine to keep it in the air, he actually found that
he reveled in the silence of cloth winged flight. And then he stopped
bubbling out nervous questions at Kip, tandem tied above him in
the same glider.

The two firemen had fun radioing to each other in the air and they challenged
one another in trying to match a soaring osprey's rise inside a warm ocean
thermal. They could see all of Santa Catalina spread out beneath them. Its
crystal blue cove waters amazing visibility and the orange flecks of garibaldi
mingled with the brown blades of giant kelp.  

Marco grinned. "Hey, Chet..." he said over the headset.

"What, Marco? Can't you see I'm busy banking corkscrews?" shouted Chet
excitedly from his own solo hang glider.

Lopez smile right back as he looked at the crazy antics his coworker
was swooping out just above him. "I havenít seen a car since we launched off
the dunes at Two Harbors."

"That's because they're aren't any. Well, not many, anyway. The locals
and tourists mostly use golfcarts because it takes twelve years to get
a permit to own and drive an automobile." shouted Kelly over
the wind in his transmission.

"Far out.." said Marco. "My kind of town. Just like the Prisoner series on TV.
You are number 6.." he said in a mock english voice.

Chet shouted gleefully, high on flying. "I am not a number," he crowed "I am
a free man."

Lopez was reflective in his helmet as Kip banked their hang glider
in for a better view of the two small towns built on the island.
"Yeah, up here, we both are. And doesn't Avalon look like the Village
from that show?"

"Yeah, spooky. I'm just glad we won't be finding Rover on the beach
when we land anytime soon."

Image of village.jpg Image of prisoner.jpg Image of roverbeach.jpg

"Chet? Kip wants to take me over the west end to see the Isthmus
up close. Meet you back in this area in five?" asked Lopez through
his helmet frequency.

"Ok, in five and counting." said Chet, setting his watch. "I'll coast
inside this thermal while I wait for the two of ya to show me the way
home. I really wanna go higher than that osprey, man. It's become
a matter of pride."

"Good luck." said Kip from his own radio set. "Osprey won't tolerate
anything over their heads. Makes them chatter something fierce.
I've never been able to do it."

"First time for everything..." said Chet, gaining altitude.

"See you soon.." said Marco as he and Kip leaned onto their
hang glider's guide bar and swept out of sight into the setting sun.

Chet smiled when he realized that he finally had some real solitude
to savor on his own. ::Ah, aloneness.:: "You got the right idea my fine
feathered friend." he said to the osprey gliding around in the thermal
above him. "I love it." Kelly stretched in his harness. "Cap, you
don't know what you're missing by keeping those cold feet of yours.
This is pure heaven on earth. Marco's learning that, too."

Image of catalinaosprey.jpg Image of marcoglider.jpg

From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Sun Jun 4, 2006 6:13pm
Subject: Moments of Gravity..

Lopez had just begun relaxing when it happened.  A sharp
upwelling gust jolted their wind sails, lurching both Kip and
himself upwards in a nauseating violent jerk. Kip yelled.
"Hang on. We've hit a dust devil! I'm trying to--"
His words were ripped away as another slap of curling wind
twisted around their glider unexpectedly.

Lopez, ever the alert fireman, started talking immediately on
his headset to the others at the campsite. "Hank, Roy! We've
hit an off-thermal..." he grunted.

Kip struggled to right the craft, falling into swoops and dives,
trying to find his way out of the narrow monstrous downdraft.
He didn't speak, so intent was his concentration.

There was no reply from the others.

Cap, Roy, Johnny and Stoker were too engrossed in
eyeing up the sights on the beach below them with binoculars
to even pay attention to Marco's frantic radio transmission
echoing out of all the other upturned hang glider helmets
parked on the picnic table on the other side of the camp fire.

Kelly didn't hear him either, he was currently dipping into a low
canyon in a bid to beat the osprey at his own game.

Marco gasped, sharp grains of whirling sand getting into his
eyes. "Guys! We're in trouble!" he screamed into the helmet
radio's mic over the roar of the invisible whirlwind toying
with them.

Kip's chin hit him on the back, making him grunt in pain at another
lurch. "Keep ... talking!" grunted the guide, forcing the flight bar
up to try and gain more altitude. But the force of the mini tornado
was too strong to resist.

Marco gasped as the tips of tall pine trees hurdled up towards them.
"Guys.. we're going down!! Guys, can you hear me?!" Lopez
yelled. "Chet, eye our position! We're going d---"

CRASH!!!  A main beam of torrey pine cracked off the left wing of
Kip and Marco's hang glider, sending them dropping dozens of
feet towards the ground and into a thick stand of a small forest.

Both men fell like rocks, helplessly tethered to the craft as it tumbled
down and destroyed itself in violent snaps and shrieks of aluminum.


Marco opened his eyes at the soft tink of metal pipes banging into
each other above him.  He was still in his harness. But he was
also hanging thirty feet above the ground from a treetop where
the luckless glider had embedded itself.

He gave a start when he twisted around in place to check on Kip.
The guide was impaled fully on a branch through the chest next
to him and his face was blue. He was very dead.

"Madre Dios..." Lopez muttered, crossing himself. Closing his eyes,
he inwardly assessed his status. ::No broken bones. Not
bleeding from anywhere except my left cheek. At least that's
something.:: he thought.   Then he remembered his radio.
Reaching painfully up, he groped until he found the mouth mic that
had been bent and twisted upwards and tried to use it.
"Chet? Do you read me? Chet?" But there was no power left in it.
None at all from what he could see. Its speaker light was dark.
::D*mn it. This'll never work again.:: Marco thought when he found
the back of the power unit thoroughly crushed.

He shoved panic aside and worked to free himself from where
he hung. Struggling, he undid his helmet strap to be able to
breathe a little better. It slipped off his head and Marco watched
with some horror as it took a fairly long time to thud to the ground
after crashing through the tree boughs swaying underneath him.

Image of catalinaeucalyptus.jpg Image of treetrap.jpg Image of tree.jpg

Then Lopez's unfamiliarity with the harness releases tying him to
Kip's body proved his undoing. The main buckle opened suddenly
and dropped him out of the tangled glider wreckage and into a
sudden freefall.

Marco yelled in startled surprise. His momentum was slowed only
slightly by some thick pine branches as his body fell towards the
ground. Pieces of his hang glider and some of its wingsail tumbled
down with him, striking Lopez painfully on the head, arms and legs.

Then he hit bottom, landing on his back in a thick bed of pine needles
with his right leg folded awkwardly beneath him. The large bone below
the knee instantly snapped like a twig.

"AhhhHHH!" grimaced Marco and he folded up double over it and
gripped the fresh, closed break with both of his hands in acute agony.
He threw up immediately, losing his late lunch. Soon, he found he could
breathe again as the wind that had gotten knocked out of him, returned.

When the bout was over, he was left suffering retinal stars and gagging
at his intense pain.

Then some of Kip's blood began to drip on his face from far above
and he fainted into oblivion.

Ten minutes later, Marco was ready. He had bound his leg with
aluminum struts and glider cloth in a tight splint and he had made
himself a makeshift crutch using a piece of debris from one of his
glider's overhead beams.  "Ok..." he grunted, psyching up to
try and stand. He knew he had to get to a trail or at least get out in
the open so Chet would be able spot him or the crashed glider still
hanging partially in the treetops.

He eventually got onto his good foot and began the long way
back to the duneside campsite that lay a few miles downhill from


Hank was beside himself. "Come on, Chet." he said into one of
the helmet's microphones. Gage, Stoker and Roy were sitting
next to him on top of the picnic table, also wearing glider gear
so that they could hear the conversation. "He crashed didn't he?"

##No,.. no.. he's fine. He's just ah, ...he's just up to some kind of
funny business.## sighed Chet from where he was in the air.

"Then why aren't you laughing?" Cap growled. "And why can't we
pick him up on his radio?"

Chet got defensive. ##Because these radios have only got a range of
ten miles!## he decided. ##If I'm not back in fifteen minutes....##

"Just find him." Gage said, holding onto their portable VHF radio
receiver in case they needed outside aid. He had already dialed
over to frequency sixteen, the emergency channel.

##I will.. ## gasped Chet with worry as he flew his searching sweeps.
##I'll find him.##

Quiet waves of wind rustled his glider's wings as Kelly focused
his gaze on the ground as he swept over the arid landscape and
steep cliffs which descending in deep ripples all around him towards
the surrounding ocean. On an instinct, he followed the osprey, still
calling forlornly above him. It was headed towards a thick wood
a few miles away.


Marco was getting tired, fighting his way through thick scrubland using
the clumsy crutch. Then another root seemed to snag the end of
the aluminum pole under his arm and he fell heavily to the ground
yet again.

Lopez took the wave of pain from the jarring tightly, waiting it out.
Then he opened his eyes to see where the crutch had tumbled to.

He was stunned when he heard the buzz of a snake begin behind
him from under a bush. It was very nearby. ::Rattler!:: Marco quailed,
freezing in place so he could locate where the sound was coming from.
He found it camouflaged in a snarl of branches and roots. It was a fat
rattlesnake only a yard away. The snake was very angry. Marco's
good foot was lying directly on a rabbit it had just killed.  

Image of marcofrightenedclosenight.jpg Image of rattlesnake.jpg

Marco breath quavered as he tried to will the snake to stillness where it
lay inside the tangled knot of its body. He became acutely aware of the
quiet-full-of-sound; quail and other birds, waves, wind, insects and the
bite of poison oak beginning to form a rash over all the exposed areas
of his skin. A trickle of sweat stung his eyes but he didn't dare wipe it
away. Slowly, his eyes located the metal bar and he reached for it in
slow motion until he gripped its sun warmed weight. Scuffling softly in the
clay, he moved it back under his arm until he could roll his body inch
by inch away from the snake.

But then, an untied shoe laced twitched an ear on the dead hare. The
snake struck.. driving both fangs deep into the calf of Marco's good leg.

Jerking in panic, Marco threw himself over backwards in fright and in doing
so, fell over a dropoff which sent him hurtling down into an uncontrolled
tumble down a cliff.  His broken leg's splint slammed painfully into rocks
and bushes as he rolled, making Marco scream as he tried to arrest
his violent fall helplessly.

Then he hit bottom in a deep arroyo and landed face down onto some moist
dirt by a small bubbling creekbed.

Violated, bumped and bruised, Marco took one big stunned breath as he
tried to rise back onto his hands and knees, but then overwhelming shock
took him deep into blackness.


Captain Stanley spoke again by helmet radio. "Any signs, Chet?"

##Not yet.## Kelly answered, turning his flight bar into another turn to the
left so that he'd arch into the next canyon. Then he spotted a sudden white
and orange flash in between some pine trees. He gasped. "##Cap,
I got a visual. Looks like they're down.##

Gage broke in using his own helmet mic. "Are they ok?"

Chet replied. ##I don't know. I don't see em. There's some broken branches.
Looks like they hit hard.##

Hank sighed. "Let assume those boys have gone and broke something. I'm
gonna take the golf cart down the mountain to get a chopper."

"Cap, you can't. It'll be dark soon. Too dark to navigate the drive clearly
without good brakes." Roy said to him.

"What choice do we have? It'll be night soon." Cap spat.

"Give Chet a chance to find them. They may be ok and walking out
of there as we speak." Roy suggested.

"Twenty minutes.." Hank agreed.

Johnny offered another option. "Guys, I can raise help right here.." he said,
holding up Roy's portable hand held that he had dug out of a backpack.

"Do it." ordered Stanley. "Chet, Johnny's radioing on VHF 16 for assistance.
Hang tight and keep circling over that spot."

Johnny began his hail for help while Cap and Chet continued their
conversation while Roy and Stoker listened on.

Kelly spoke up again. ##Gage's out of range down there, Cap. I just flipped
over and I can't hear him at all. He's transmitting nothing but static.##

"Then I'll walk to a higher elevation." Gage said.

"You can't get any higher than this, we must be getting blocked by
Mt. Black Jack's leeward side. It's higher than we are." DeSoto

Hank eyed all three of his men. "Then what's left for us to do, huh?
Can you tell me that?"

Roy, Stoker and Johnny looked at him but couldn't offer anything.

Hank walked to the dune's edge and hailed Chet once more.
"Kelly, what's going on? Talk to me."

Image of caphtpalmtrees.jpg Image of chethanggliding2.jpg

Chet was straining his eyes to the utmost to see past the growing
shadows falling on the land below him. Then, he saw a small figure
lying on the ground with a bent leg. ##Cap, I see something. I'm
taking ...*static crackle* ..a closer look. *crackle spatter*##

"Chet, you're starting to break up, you're almost out of range."
said Stoker into a mic.

##I found Marco. He's at the bottom of a rocky quarry.## Chet shouted,
growing scared. Lopez was lying absolutely still, partially tangled in
a bush with a leg splint half undone. ##Cap, I'm about ten
to twelve miles east--- ##  The frequency fizzled into immutability
into all their ears.

Hank shouted. "Chet!"

##.....*static*...I'm going in for a landing...##

The radio comm whistled and then cut out completely.

Hank pulled off the glider helmet and threw it onto the
ground in disgust.

Gage shot to his feet. "Time's up, Cap. I've got to leave."

"How?" Roy asked him incredulously. "We can hardly see
the terrain around us."

Cap said, "And you're not taking that golf cart. Not until we fix those

Johnny rubbed his face. "I'm not talking about taking the cart.
I'm talking about using one of those.." Gage said, pointing at
the waiting hang glider that Chet had set out for Cap to try.

"You must be outta your mind." Cap told him. "You've never
flown one of those things before. You'll end up like those two
did and wreck yourself on a hillside somewhere."

"No I won't, Cap. Haven't you noticed? It's nearly dark outside.
The wind's died down an awful lot from what it used to be. I can
just glide into Avalon and land on the beach. How can I miss
it? The whole village's lit up like a Christmas tree. I can't
possibly hurt myself.." said Gage, pointing towards the tied
down hang glider's large silhouette looming nearly over them.

The three of them just stared back without saying anything.

"All right. Ok. All right. I admit there are no guarantees here.
But I can't think of anyone else but me who'll actually dare
to fly out of here. Can you? Besides, I can't be scared of
something I can't even see. It'll be too dark for me
to know how high up I am." Johnny insisted. "Ok, Stoker, are you
gonna get up off your stunned butt long enough to help me
get into this thing or am I gonna haveta get into this harness
all by myself?"

Hank saw the look of sweaty determination in his paramedic's
face and found that he couldn't counteract his decision to fly
out for help. He just nodded once at Mike, tersely, without
saying anything.

Johnny ran off into the darkness, followed quickly by Roy and
Stoker at his heels.

Image of johnnyrundownhill.jpg Image of royoutsidedayworried.jpg

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Click the sleeping Cap
  to go to Page Three

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   California Dreamin'
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