Chapter 6 - Malek's Sanctuary
The flight check on Deuce 926 concerned the hydraulic system—pressure variation that had been corrected. Malek would take readings during his routine cycling of the landing gear and speed brakes. Otherwise he was free to do as he pleased. It was a juicy plum of a flight.
With his heart full of fear at 0905 hours, the great ace leaped off alone. The cool morning air packed the interceptor’s intake ducts, boosting engine thrust and hurtling the F-102A interceptor down the runway and into the early morning sky.
The weekend had been a devastating ordeal, still hauntingly vivid. Carl Malek urgently sought escape, and now, coveting the throttle in his left gloved- hand, he sensed a relief. His right hand encircled the forked control stick, applied exacting pressure to direct the aircraft. The big bird responded with like precision. Easy does it, he mused, relishing the sensation. I needed this.
Kissing the tops of trees that graced the Eifel forests, Malek cruised at 280 knots. He swept down valleys, viewing Deutschland, dazzling as its summer paled in brilliant pastels. Malek headed east toward the Rhine. Skimming its rippled surface, he sought out castles and other landmarks of medieval history along its uneven shoreline. He was frantic to forget the killing.
Impulsively, he swung the interceptor west, snapped his left wrist outboard, kicking in the afterburner. Varied hues of earth, forests, streams and terra cotta roofed towns evolved into a dangerous gray blur.
Intense heat pulsating from its tail pipe, the delta-winged Deuce howled and shrieked, announcing its arrival and departure over villages in brief seconds of time. The F-102A’s guts fired a million messages throughout its massive fuselage to sectored components and into the cockpit to a maze of round instruments with numbers and needles that danced about willy-nilly to the untrained eye. But to the distinguished ace Carl Malek, the round faces spoke a clear language, advising him that his most marvelous machine was doing just fine, engine and ten thousand components running in fastidious harmony. Behind his tight oxygen mask, he forced a smile—this is flight.
Applying even, steady back pressure on the control stick, he smoothly lifted the Deuce’s nose above the horizon and directed it toward the morning sun and higher still until he was in vertical flight. Up, up, the interceptor carried him. His mind romped whimsically, struggling to erase his horrible deed and the persistent fear of discovery. Up farther and farther still, he implored his splendid machine. Malek’s thin-gloved right hand enveloped the control stick with the skill and sensitivity that he’d acquired in destroying eighteen piston-driven German fighters in these same skies yesterday and a million years ago.
Up away from all that lay below. Oh how he wished he could remain aloft until the memory of the killing had faded into oblivion. Up, up he coaxed the big Deuce, his eyes swelling tears of futility and fear.
He knew he would never get high enough, but the direction was right and the want was in him. At the apex of his climb, when the interceptor had given him all it could to free itself from its earthbound wrench and the great ace was weightless at near zero G-force, he gently turned the big bird upon its back and allowed it to ease itself to the horizon, where he supplely rolled it right side up.
There at the tropopause, as he viewed his immediate world and streaks of sun in frolic along the Rhine River, stretching north to infinity, Carl Malek sensed the peace he sought.
The author says: "I'm a retired lawyer and former Air Force pilot, have written a dozen novels, of which only one has been (self) published. Earlier manuscripts have won award status in international competitions in 2001 and 2002. Simon and Schuster expressed a tentative interest in the 2002 ms, then said no. I spent a year with three personal editors (sequentially), who incidentally all were women, working through the novel again, then decided to wait no longer and self-published the final draft. It is hardbound with dustjacket and has been doing well for the time and effort (which is considerable) I've put into marketing it." Contact Frank.
enlisted in the USAAF late in World War II and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. He applied for pilot training and after graduating in 1953 was assigned to a USAF NATO fighter squadron in West Germany where he served as a line pilot for three years, the period during which his novel, Primordial Vault, takes place.
Thereafter Deft resumed reserve duty. In 1968 he volunteered for a short in-country combat tour in Vietnam. The following year he returned to West Germany on an active duty tour. Eight years later, he retired with the rank of Colonel.
During 33 years of United States Air Force Reserve and Active duty, Frank Deft spent 18 years flying single-engine fighters, during which seven years were spent in the cockpit of the delta-winged Convair F-102A, the principal aircraft in Primordial Vault.
Born in the small steel town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Frank Deft hastily departed at the early age of sixteen, attaining short-range goals while seeking a career path. Deft has written eleven novels and achieved award status in two national fiction competitions. He studied Art and Law at UCLA, is a member of the State Bar of California, Mensa and three military associations.
Frank Deft presently resides in the forested mountains of western North Carolina, writes every day and leads a rather Spartan life.