Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Coma Dream #3 - Landing the Planes

Though these dreams probably flew through my mind in some order of disarray, I can no longer say which ones came first. If I had to guess, I would say they all happened simultaneously. Especially in light of how so many of them overlap in odd ways. Seriously, when asked to recollect which order these dreams happened, I am always at a loss. Some of them repeated multiple times. (We'll get to those sometime soon... kinda scary.) With that said, here is installment #3- Landing the Planes.

It is sometime post-war, probably late 1948 or so. I am stationed on a Marine air base somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, fairly near Japan. I know this because my job is to help land airplanes all day (and sometimes into the evening). The planes are predominantly Vought F4U Corsairs. Long and blue, with those beautiful bent wings. And the sound of their engines howling as they screamed at take off!

In this dream, my job is to establish radio contact with incoming airplanes and guide them back home. Most of the time this is proves to be fairly mundane. There are usually four to six of us manning the radio in shifts with two to three of us glassing the horizon, looking long for that broken wing silhouette.

Most aircraft at this time were not adequately equipped for nighttime landings. Without radar, it was even more difficult to land six to ten aircraft in short order at night. On this night, it was made nearly impossible with a fog that came in before dinner. The flight was late returning. Six planes coming back from Okinawa. Due in over half an hour earlier, we knew that the fog was delaying their arrival.

We asked the ground crew to prepare searchlights, but their beams couldn't penetrate the fog. For all their effort, only a dull glow reached through the fog. The woman who I was sharing the shift with suggested aiming the search beams low, almost parallel to the runways. Our hope was that then the runways would be lit up and more visible from the air.

When the rain began it was more of a wet mist first. It didn't take long though before none of us could see more than 100 yards or so along the runway... and that was with the help of the search lights. The tension on the ground was palpable. Each of us had somewhere they would much rather have been, only because worry had surpassed reason. Something was amiss and there was nothing we could do.

After what seemed like hours, the radio let loose the first crackle that didn't end in static. Numbers were squawked out, repeated and new coordinates relayed. Six times we traded this information until we knew each pilot could see our blur of light winking in the soggy wet. With sighs and relief we each surrendered our headphones and unplugged from our panels.

Walking down the stairs, I asked the woman beside me what she was hurrying off to. Looking like a teenager off to prom she laughed and let on as how she was going to a concert. Around me the room changed from air station to a space more akin to a waiting room in a large airport. She fell in line behind a crowd waiting to leave the terminal. Waiting there, I had to ask: what sort of music would they be playing at this concert. Punk music of course! Curious, I asked how she knew anything about punk music. She explained that the lead singer of the band was a friend of a friend, and he had invented a bionic knee device. I asked her if they were any good and she laughed. She said she was their biggest fan. Then the line opened up and with nothing more said, she was off into the night.


At first glance this dream seems to make sense (until the punk-rock concert goer rears her head)...

I told my mom about this dream, since my memory of this coma dream puts her into the dream as it transitions from the air station to the waiting room/airport scene. As I related this story to her, she started to stutter. I decided to jump straight in and ask: Did you leave me at the hospital to go to a punk rock concert? Yep. And yes, the lead singer in the band happens to have invented a knee-replacement device which borders on science fiction. Very cutting edge. They have just released their newest album and guess what's on the back of the closing liner notes? "Dedicated to our biggest fan: Candace" (That's my mom for ya.)

Apparently though, that wasn't what had left my mother so speechless. Her concern was that I had never met my great-aunt Sally. My maternal grandfather was the youngest of ten siblings and the only male. From my grandfather I knew little bits and pieces about his sisters. I spent parts of my summers in Wyoming getting to know my great aunts Louise, Winnie and Ollie. But I never got to meet Aunt Sally.

The little I knew about her was that she had lived overseas. I think most of her adult life had been spent in and around Japan. Once she sent us a lamp in the shape of an owl, made from a tank shell casing from World War II... left behind in Okinawa. Some part of me always thought that it could have been fired from my grandfather's amphibious tank he crewed during the invasion of Okinawa.

What I didn't know about Aunt Sally was that she used to land airplanes. In the Pacific... around Japan, for years following the conclusion of the war. She landed Vought Corsairs. And according to my mother, women were often used because their voices came through the radio more clearly and their eyes more easily spotted the broken wing pattern against the sea and sky.


Other thoughts:
I have no idea how any of this could have entered into my dreams. Ideas? Has anyone read about this sort of thing? There is more to come. Maybe later in the week.

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