Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Dust Storm Story

dust storm

We had a dust storm like this roll up unexpected in El Paso years ago. A friend and I were up flying in a little single-prop, two-seat Piper PA-38 Tomahawk from the military flight club at Ft. Bliss, and were headed out west of town to the FAA-designated training area, when we saw thus huge brown cloud coming right at the airfield, fast. It was all we could do to get turned around and back to the runway before it started hitting, just as we put down. The wind changed directions 180 degrees in a few seconds, something neither I nor the instructor anticipated. The airplane started "porpoising" on its tail in the strong tail wind, looking straight up, we were barely hanging on the prop, desperately trying to grip air. It was a really sickening feeling in my stomach as I readied for the crash. The instructor slammed the stick forward, putting the little plane into a nose dive from only about 50 feet, scarey as hell, then he straightened it out and slammed it to a stop on the ground, all in about five seconds.

He looked at me and said, "Don't feel bad, it helps that I fly [F/A-18] Hornets on my day job."

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