Hello my colleagues! I hope you’re all having an enjoyable weekend. I am feeling much relieved, having found an entry in Miss O’ Hare’s diary with a more detailed account of her and Kristoff’s sudden arrival in Constantinople. As you know, she loves to write good yarn (and knit with one too) so I’ll present the first part for you now. Enjoy!
Diary, 14th of June, 1885
Well, that was a fine greeting for Kristoff’s first dirigible journey! A raging storm nearly tore us out of the air and we were forced to make an emergency landing in the dark and howling winds. He behaved quite admirably, I am pleased to report.
The storm blew up on us suddenly in the night as we were close to reaching Turkey’s borders. I had planned to stop at Constantinople for refueling and resupplying anyway, but I did not wish my landing to be so rushed and dangerous, and I certainly do not welcome being awoken by the ship shuddering and tossing me from my warm soft bed onto the cold wooden floor. Why must everything happen in the middle of the night? Why can’t it happen at tea, when I’m awake and alert anyway? The howling winds and beating rain outside quickly brought me to full wakefulness, and I made my way to the bridge with all haste and collided with Kristoff in the narrow corridor.
“Anna!” He caught me by the shoulders before I fell, having to shout to be heard above the cacophony of the storm. “What’s happening?”
I staggered toward the bridge and out of his grasp. “We’re having a tea party for the gods!” I stumbled into the bridge and grabbed onto an instrument panel for stability, checking our altitude and course. “No, wait, I lie! There’s a ruddy great storm outside, what does it bloody sound like?” We still had most of our original altitude, but were probably a bit off course from the wind. It was blowing from the northeast, and we had been heading southeast, so if we landed soon…
“All right, that was admittedly a rather stupid question!” Kristoff staggered in after me as the ship jerked and bucked against the wind, threatening to throw him into a wall. “What do we do now? Do we wait for it to blow itself out?” He grabbed a guardrail for support, then looked down at it for a moment with a new appreciation. I could almost see him thinking, “Oh, so that’s what these are for!” and I suppressed a smile as I took the helm.
“No, storm’s too powerful. We’re trying to get to Constantinople, and the damn city’s on the Golden Horn. Surrounded by water! If we stay in the air we’ll get blown out to the Sea of Marmara, and I do not relish a swim at this hour.” I looked over the instruments again and gritted my teeth. “We need to land, and we need to land now.”
“All right. So let’s land, then!” He gripped the guardrail tightly as I began to calculate our descent. I rolled my eyes a bit. Right, because landing in the middle of a gale, in the dark, is something I do all the time.
“It’s not going to be smooth! And as I don’t have four hands, I’m going to need you to do some work in here!” I struggled with the wheel as the wind threatened to rip control of the rudder from my hands. Kristoff made to take it from me, but I shoved him off with one shoulder and planted my feet firmly. “Not the wheel! This is my dirigible, you’re not learning to fly it in the middle of a bloody tempest!” I jerked my chin to my right, where the controls for the wing flaps were located. “I need you on those!” Kristoff nodded and staggered to the levers I had indicated, another shudder of the ship causing him to nearly fall on top of them.
“What do I do now?” He looked over the unfamiliar levers, quickly taking in the labels. “This one says ‘ascent/descent!’ Is that the one we need?” Smart boy! I nodded absently, squinting through the rain-lashed windshield and hoping we were still above land and not water.
“Yes, that’s the one we need! It controls the flaps on the steering wings! When you push it forward, toward ‘descent,’ the flaps on the wings go up and that makes us go down!” I looked from the window to the instruments, and then over to Kristoff and the altitude controls. “Push it forward four notches!” Kristoff nodded and moved the lever, struggling a bit against the force of the wind and the propellers. I felt the slight lifting sensation in my stomach that is always there on descents, and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Right, we’re on the way down now! We’ll be out of the clouds in a moment, and that’s when we’ll find out where we’re landing!” I gritted my teeth and squinted through the windshield again. “I’m hoping for land. You’d best do the same.”
Kristoff swallowed. “Anything else I should hope for while I’m at it?”
I considered for a moment. “Flat land. No mountains. No trees. And hopefully not on someone’s house.” I grinned at him roguishly. “People tend to get a wee bit pissed off when you accidentally land on their house… Not that it’s ever happened to me. Except that one time in Scotland.” I sucked air through my teeth for a moment. “And that other time in Ceylon.” A strange noise distracted me for a moment, and I realized that Kristoff was snickering. I hadn’t heard him do that before… It was quite nice, actually.
There! Lights! Through the rain on the windshield I could see blurred lights, and lots of them. It looked like we might be landing close to Constantinople after all, or at least a large city of some sort. “Right! Kristoff! We’re out of the clouds and coming up on the ground now! When I tell you, I need you to pull back on that lever as far as it will go!”
Kristoff nodded and gripped the level with both hands. “Anything else I should do?”
“Hold on to something! This is going to be bumpy!” I steered us toward the inky blackness on the edge of the sea of lights. I was reasonably sure I wasn’t steering us into the sea, since the lights petered out in a gradient that suggested the outskirts of a city rather than the sharp edge of the coast. We’d find out soon enough, I supposed.
… and so will we! Dirigible travel always sounded so lovely to me, but I hadn’t yet taken storms into consideration. Fortunately, Miss O’ Hare seems to have handled a few rough flights already. We’ll find out how the landing goes shortly. Stay tuned! (Oh, and speaking of yarn, there’s more of that coming soon as well!)