Here I was, boarding a plane headed for a remote island resort in the South Pacific for a two-week vacation. The odd part of this scenario is that I don't like flying, I could not afford a vacation, and I didn't really want to go to the South Pacific. So why was I here?
I won the trip in a contest sponsored by one of the parts houses that I buy parts from for my auto shop. A dumb contest, as it was for one and not a couple. That part didn't really matter to me, as I was single and unattached. I wasn't going to accept the contest win, but I hadn't been on a vacation of any kind for about ten years and figured what the hell, I'd go.
The flight to Manila in the Philippines was uneventful, in fact somewhat boring. It was a long flight and allowed me to almost finish the book that I picked up at LAX to read. Once in Manila, I changed planes to a small corporate jet to continue on to a remote island resort that I had never heard of. I understood that it was supposed to be an exclusive resort that was secluded and very private.
There were thirteen of us on the flight to the resort, plus the pilot, copilot, and one stewardess. I could tell from the outset that I was way outclassed by my traveling companions. It was obvious that these people had money and were very used to being catered to and taken care of. I carried my own bag to the jet for the ground crew to load into the baggage compartment, while the others left theirs at the gate to have the ground crew move them for them.
I boarded the plane and took my seat in the rear. I sat quietly and watched the others board and take their seats. There were people worth several millions of dollars sitting in front of me. Did I feel out of place? Hell yes, I did, but decided to not let it bother me and make the most of it.
As we taxied out for take-off, the pilot came on the intercom and informed us that our flight would take about two and a half hours and that we would incur some turbulent weather about halfway into our trip, as we would pass through a tropical storm front, but he didn't expect it to be too rough. I settled back to finish my book as we took off. Once in the air, our stewardess started the drink and snack service. I sat half-listening to my traveling companions. I found it hard to believe what a demanding group they were. It seemed as though each thought they were the only ones on the flight and that their every whim needed to be attended to immediately. Oh well, so much for the rich and famous.
About an hour and a half into our flight, we hit the storm. It became evident very quickly that this was not a typical storm. This was a damned hurricane. Our plane was tossed around like a kite. My traveling companions were complaining loudly. The pilot came on and apologized for the rough ride, but explained that there was no way around or over the storm. He was going to try to skirt around to the south a little to avoid the worst of it, but explained that it would still not be smooth. As he clicked off the intercom, a huge bolt of lightning struck the plane, the cabin lights flashed a couple of times and went out. The plane shuddered but kept flying. As I looked out the window to my right I couldn't see anything, as the storm was so intense and dark. Panic seemed to erupt among the passengers. I was concerned, but tried to remain clam. The stewardess put her serving cart away and went to the cockpit. She emerged some ten minutes later.
"The captain asked me to inform you that the lightning has damaged one of the engines and we are currently flying on one engine. Please stay clam and we will be ok. I'll give you further updates as the captain relates them to me," she announced.
Chaos erupted immediately. Several of the passengers demanding that he find a place to land. They seemed to forget that we were in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean and couldn't see a thing.
I felt as though the jet was beginning to lose altitude, but couldn't be sure. The flight continued for another half an hour. Now I was sure that we were losing altitude. The storm seemed to be lessening. It was getting lighter outside, but due to the rain I still couldn't see anything.
The stewardess along with the copilot came into the passenger compartment together. "If I may have your attention? It seems that in addition to taking out one engine, the lightning strike has also damaged the other engine. We are losing oil pressure in the remaining engine and as a result are losing power. There is no identified emergency landing field near enough for us to land. To make our situation worse, our communications and navigation equipment are also not functioning. It appears as though we are going to have to ditch the plane. We are headed toward a group of small islands, but there is no landing field. Please stay calm and prepare for a rough landing. Connie, your stewardess, will go over the safety procedures with you to prepare." With that, he turned back toward the cockpit amidst a gaggle of irate questions and outraged comments from the passengers.
In a professional and assured manner, Connie began to go over the safety procedures for our ditching. I paid attention to every word she said. I figured that she knew more about what would help us survive than I did. My fellow passengers didn't seem to have the same attitude. Most of them were demanding, outraged, and in dire fear for their lives. Not a good situation. We were now losing altitude rather quickly. I knew from other water landings I had heard about that ditching in the open sea was very dangerous and that our chances of surviving the crash were very slim. The plane tends to break up on impact, and when that happens our survival chances diminish drastically.
Once she had given all the instructions and made sure that all the passengers were tightly buckled into their seats, Connie took the seat next to mine and buckled herself in. We were going down quickly now, and I could see the ocean surface approaching fast. I felt the pilot pull the nose of the jet up as we hit the surface of the water. The impact was significant, and the plane felt like a rock skipping across the water. Then there was another impact much harder that the first. I saw trees out the window flash by. What the hell! The plane then spun and started to break up. Both wings were sheared off, and the cockpit portion of the plane was torn away. The noise of the crunching, tearing metal was deafening. The plane bounced and jolted and finally came to a stop. In a heartbeat, Connie was out of her seat and headed to the now completely open front of the plane. The entire cockpit was gone. I was right behind her. As we moved forward, we unfastened seat belts and started helping everyone out of the plane. My only thought was to get everyone out before the plane caught fire. There was some smoke, but I didn't see any flames. Most of the passengers had only minor bumps and bruises and could move on their own. One short stout guy appeared to have a broken arm, but could still walk. As we got closer to the front of the plane, the injuries seemed to get worse. There was more blood and more crying and more screaming. Connie was amazing! She worked quickly and efficiently getting the passengers unbuckled and out of their seats and headed toward the front and out of the plane. Her commands to me to assist her were concise and direct.
The passengers in the front two rows had received the most severe injuries. We were getting them out of the plane as quickly as possible. When we got to the front row, we saw that the guy sitting next to the window was dead. The lady sitting next to him had several severe cuts on her legs that were bleeding a lot. We lifted her out of her seat and carried her out of the plane. Once out, Connie ran back into the plane to retrieve the first aid kit. She then began wrapping the wounds tightly to stem the flow of blood. I went back in to help the last passenger in the front row seat out of the plane. When I got to him, he was yelling in pain that his legs hurt and he couldn't walk. It appeared as though both his legs were broken. I hauled him out of his seat into a fireman's carry, damn he was heavy, and carried him out of the plane.
Everyone was now out of the plane. Still no fire, thank God!
It was late afternoon, and the rain was subsiding. We were all wet, bloody, and dirty. First order of business was to attend to the injured. Connie had stopped the bleeding on the lady's leg injuries and was now attending to the man who appeared to have broken both legs. The other passengers were somewhat taking care of each other.
He had broken both legs between the knee and ankle. I went back into the plane to see what was available to make splints out of. I found some pieces of fairly firm plastic trim that had fallen from the ceiling that looked like they would work and took them outside. Connie and I set both his legs and wrapped them in the splints. We also set and splinted the youngest man, Tony's arm. We also set and splinted Brad's arm. When we finished taking care of the other minor injuries, we went back to the woman who had the cuts on her legs. One of the other ladies had a sewing kit she had picked up in the last hotel she stayed in, and we used that and some bourbon from the plane's pantry to clean the cuts and sew them up as best we could.
It was now late afternoon, and I was exhausted. I sat under a palm and took stock of our situation. We had faired fairly well in the crash. The pilot had headed the plane in toward the beach, wheels up. We had hit the water, which slowed the plane, and he had kept the nose up so that it wouldn't dive in and some how managed to keep it straight without digging the wing tips into the water. We hadn't hit the beach too hard, but the plane had spun on impact with the beach and had sheared off the entire cockpit of the plane. The cockpit was crushed beyond recognition. Both pilot and copilot were killed. There were a few supplies and provisions in the plane, so food was not an immediate concern, at least for two or three days.
As far as rescue was concerned, that was an open question. It had to be known that we were missing, but did they know where we were? How far off course did we end up?
I was still afraid that the plane would catch fire and burn. I decided to get some help and remove everything from the plane fuselage that we could salvage. I recruited a few of my fellow travelers and started removing what we could. There was actually a lot in the plane that would help us. There were eating and cooking utensils, blankets, a good first aid kit, and all of the luggage that each of us had brought. We removed all of the undamaged seats, as they unlatched from the floor tracks rather easily. We had almost stripped the plane when we noticed smoke coming from the rear of the compartment. As we exited, the fuselage slowly started on fire. Within a few minutes, the plane was fully engulfed in flames. At least we would have a fire that night. The fuel in the plane did not explode, but burned in a huge fire all night long. We moved up under the palms and spent the night some distance from the plane in case it did explode.
There were thirteen of us that had survived the crash, five men and eight women. Three had died. Our injuries for the most part were minor, the worst being the broken limbs. Connie our stewardess was our real hero. She had managed the whole situation very well, and thanks to her efforts we were in as good shape as we were. She lay on the beach near me, covered in a blanket. Exhausted, I was sure.
Sam, one of the fellows that had broken an arm, was not far away, lying with his wife, Joann, who had suffered only minor bruises and abrasions. Sam and Joann were both in their late twenties, computer geeks that had developed some sort of software that had made them both incredibly rich. Sam was average height and build with a pasty complexion, definitely not the athletic type. His wife Joann was about 5'2" medium build, not bad to look at, in fact kind of cute, slightly overweight and absolutely no breasts.
Just beyond Sam and Joann were Terry and Monica, two real estate agents who had made a lot of money in the LA real estate market before it dived and were on the trip as a reward from the company they worked for. Terry was a little cutie, 46 years old, a little rotund, shaped like a small barrel, with a pretty face and an effervescent personality. Monica, on the other hand, was taller, thinner, and not a nice person. She was near the same age as Terry and not bad looking at all. She was quite impressed with herself and a little bit of a bitch.
The youngest couple in our group was Sophie and Tony. Sophie was a very pretty young thing in her early twenties. She had large breasts, was tall, and had a dark Mediterranean complexion. Tony was a year or two older than Sophie, strong athletic build. He was a real honest to goodness playboy. Never worked a day in his life and was solely supported by his father's riches. Unfortunately, he had broken his arm in the crash and was in considerable pain.
The next morning we woke with the dawn. Most of us did not believe the situation that we were in. We had no idea where we were, or if rescue was on the way. We were in a very high state of limbo. We scrounged something to eat and drink from what had been salvaged from the plane. We were sitting around discussing our situation and trying to sort out what we were going to do.
"I suggest that we gather wood and prepare a signal fire in case that we see any planes or ships," suggested Brad, our resident bank executive.
Brad was a paunchy, soft-built man of obvious wealth and power. He was used to having control and was taking charge even though both his legs were broken. At the rate he was devouring our limited supply of Tylenol to control his pain, it would soon be depleted.
His wife, Elaine, a 28-year-old, blonde, ex-model and obvious trophy wife sitting by his side, was basking in her husband's taking control of things.
Several agreed and headed off to gather wood.
Connie and I went to check on Becky to see how her leg wounds were. She was feeling very bad. The wounds on her legs were fairly severe and were causing her pain; in addition, the man who had died in the crash was her husband. This was causing her considerable emotional distress. As we raised her skirt to check her injuries, I noticed for the first time that she was really a pretty lady. She was in her early forties, slightly overweight, with large breasts and a very pretty face. As Connie inspected her stitching, I couldn't help but notice the tops of her thighs and the crotch of her panties. Nice picture for a dirty old man like myself. We tried to console her as much as we could, but I doubt that it helped any. She was pretty distraught.
Arnold caught my attention next. The oldest member of our group and only a few years older than me was stomping around bitching about our plight. Fat lot of good his demonstration was doing anyone. His girlfriend, if you could call her that, 26-year-old Amy, was trying to no avail to calm him down. She was a tall; body to kill for, brunette that I would love to have calmed me down.
I left him ranting around in his own anger.
After a couple of hours of wood gathering and stacking the signal fire was ready. We all sat around afterward talking about what we should do next.
"I think that we should bury those that died in the crash," suggested Terry. "They need to be taken care of, too."
"Good idea, Terry," commented Brad "You guys take care of it."
Connie, Sam, Joann, Terry, and Sophie headed off to take care of the deceased. We found a small clear area just beyond the tree line near the wreckage. Using some scraps of aluminum from the plane, we dug out three shallow graves. Things were pretty quiet while we worked at this task. We recovered the three bodies and placed them in the shallow graves. We covered them, and Terry said some prayers over them, and it was finished. Becky got very emotional as we finished. Connie and I helped her back to a spot near the signal fire and sat with her and held her till she calmed some.
Not knowing how long we were going to have to stay on this island, I felt it necessary that we try to find a source of fresh water, erect some type of shelter, and see what the island had to offer in the way of food.
"I would like to suggest that we break into groups and take a look around for a fresh water supply. See what the island has to offer in food and maybe think about putting up some type of shelter," I suggested to the group.
"Fuck that, I'm not going to do shit. We will be picked up soon, and I'm not about to exert any energy doing something useless," was Arnold's reply.
"I'm with you, Arnold. I don't see the point, either," was Tony's reply.
"I disagree," Connie came back, "We need to take care of ourselves. We don't know how long we will be here."
"I agree with you, Connie," came Terry's comment, "we need to look out for ourselves."
Most of the others agreed.
"Good idea, Jerry. You, Terry, and Monica go and look for water. Sam, you, Joann, and Sophie see if you can find anything edible. The rest of you see what is available to build some kind of shelter. Arnold, Tony, do what ever you want," Brad ordered.
We all got up to attend to our various tasks. As Terry, Monica, and I started to walk off down the beach, I wondered who had made Brad king.
We walked down the beach about a mile when we came across a small stream flowing out into the ocean. We turned inland and followed the stream about another half mile into the forest. We came to a large pool situated below a fifty-foot tall rock cliff that had a small waterfall emptying into the pool. So picturesque that it could have been in a travel brochure. The pool was about 25 feet by 30 feet and appeared to be about ten feet deep. It looked so inviting that we decided to strip down to our underclothes and clean ourselves up. We didn't seem to be self-conscious about our near nakedness and jumped into the water. It was cool but not cold. It felt very good and refreshing. We swam around and played for about half an hour. The waterfall acted like a cool shower and there was a small ledge that the water spilled onto so that we could stand under it. When we exited the pool, I noticed that both Terry and Monica's underwear had turned almost transparent from the water. I could clearly see their nipples and the dark bush that covered their sex. They didn't seem to mind my noticing and dressed without paying any attention to me. The sight of both ladies turned me on, and had it not been for the coolness of the pond, I am sure that I would have had a hard on. We had brought several one-gallon plastic juice bottles to carry the water back in. My only concern was that the water was good and not contaminated with anything. Upon our arrival back at the camp, we told everyone what we had found.
"There is a stream that flows out of a pool that is fed by a small waterfall. It's beautiful, and we have water to drink and a place to bathe," Terry told the group.
"It's not far, about a mile down the beach and then a half mile upstream. You can't get lost. Just be sure that you fill the water bottles out of the waterfall and not the pond. I don't want to be drinking water you bathed in," added Monica.
Most of the group seemed excited about our find. In fact, Tony, Sophie, Joann, Sam, and Amy all decided to take off immediately to bathe.
Sam, Joann, and Sophie had found coconuts and two different fruits that were kind of like mangos that looked edible. There were bananas also, and they had brought them back to where we were staying.
The others had found a large stand of bamboo about a half a mile down the beach.
So now we had water, something to eat, a place to wash, and some building materials. At least things were starting to look up. We could now sustain ourselves for a while.