As always gents, outstanding reports and stories and pictures and videos. I just spent a most enjoyable hour getting caught up with all of you. I look forward to these reads more than you know.
2nd Lt. Swanson and Lt. Dent are now officially sans aeroplane. After two quiet days of gun-ranging chores the pair was assigned a recce of the front lines down at Monchy-le-Preux. They lifted off at 8:35 this morning into a hazy blue winter sky and proceeded in a southeasterly direction as they climbed to working altitude. They were nearing their assigned area when the Le Rhône curse dropped upon them with a vengeance. The beastly spinning mass let loose with an ear-splitting clatter, spewing oil all across Swany’s windscreen and goggles. The young pilot couldn’t shut the damnable rotary down fast enough before it literally threw itself apart internally and ground to a halt. A plume of thick black smoke trailed behind the bus briefly then hung in the frigid air like an ink smudge. Swany had already determined he was close enough to Savy to glide to it when he noticed the odor of raw fuel. He quickly closed the petcock to the engine, which he'd forgotten to do earlier, and this seemed to lessen the issue but did not eliminate it entirely. The magnetos were off so a fire starting from the sparking plugs was not a concern.
The hapless team of British airmen watched the field at Savy grow larger and larger as they glided down towards it. Several tense minutes later and the Morane bounced lightly on the frosty grass and rolled towards the hangars. The winds were fairly stiff and just before the bus had come to a full stop the tail lifted far enough so that the tip of the propeller caught the ground, causing it to rotate several degrees. Something evil down inside the bowels of engine decided it wasn’t quite done making life hell for Swany and Christopher, and as the broken bits worked against each other a spark shot out. The raw fuel that had pooled about in the cylinders ignited and the entire front of the bus burst into flames. Luckily the two airmen were able to unharness and dive out before the fire made its way into the cockpits. Several mechanics that had been approaching the plane with thoughts of rolling it towards the nearest shed quickly dashed off to grab extinguishers and pails of water. Lieutenants Dent and Swanson stood back and watched the blaze engulf the Parasol. Christopher fished a pack of Murads from an inside pocket, offering one of the cigarettes to Swany, before pulling one for himself.
“No tanks Chris, I don’t smoke.”
“Seems like a fine time to start I should think", the G/O replied as a sly grin flashed across his oil-stained face. "I smoke, our kite certainly is, you don’t want to be odd man out do you?”
Swany laughed and, with the stress of the affair bringing out his Norsk accent full force, responded, “Noo, I supposse not, let me have vun off dose foul tings den.”
Chris handed him the pack as he produced a lighter from another pocket. “There you go Swansong, stout fellow.”