Thursday, July 28, 2005

Head Trauma, part two

I've spent the last two hours in a haze, trying to process their findings. There was a scar on the runway, which I remembered looking at. I had thought it was from pulling the plane out. The tire tracks I saw showed me a truck pulling the plane out, but the plane not touching down immediately.

I don't claim to be an investigator, and the empirical part of me knows that I was not at the scene investigating it, merely taking it in. Sensory closure, maybe. Had I observed more closely at the time, maybe I could get my brain to agree with their findings.

Their conclusion is that we suffered a sudden tire failure on touchdown, causing loss of directional control. From what I recall of the scene, I can understand how they decided that. I can also logically grasp that in the middle of a sudden emergency, the brain can do weird things to you. And hey, I did hit my head rather hard. So that should be as good an excuse as any, for bad memory.

All these things, I can grasp. Except I can't force the aural, visual and tactile memories from my brain to concur. I've been trying. My memories tell a completely different story. They recount a smooth feeling; of gliding somewhat softly off to the right. No pavement transition. I remember thinking I had to get the plane on the ground before hitting the hill. Then, just the whisping sound and feel of tires going through medium-tall grass for a moment, before the wall of terrain coming to meet my face.

I have real trouble latching onto the idea of having touched down at all on the pavement. No matter how smooth it might be, you feel the vibration, and hear the hum. If the nose tire had blown, it would have vibrated much more. I'd never had a blown tire in a plane, but I know the feeling well enough from a car. In the throes of an emergency, the mind can block out the noise easily enough. But the nose gear was directly linked to the rudder pedals. They would have been vibrating significantly. I only remember a smooth, almost peaceful transition to the grass.

One of the few pieces of concrete evidence that would possibly agree with me, I can't be certain of without re-examining the plane: the tire itself. After the fact, I did glance at the tire, which was flat. But I specifically recall not seeing any shredding of the tire. From the vantage afforded to me, it appeared merely flat. The last time I suffered an automotive flat tire, it was completely shredded, even having damaged the quarter panel in the process. But the few photos I took with my cellphone camera are just not sharp enough to shed any light. I really wish they hadn't moved the plane before I got back to the scene.

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