Solar Storm Excerpt

From Solar Storm: Book 1



 

Kate checked the radio frequencies one more time. "LAX control, Aloha 3684—you read me?"

"This damn flare’s knocked everything out. Keep trying. I got a visual on the coast. Keep an eye out for lights out there," announced the pilot.

Kate stared at the horizon where the black ocean before them met the not quite so black sky above.  Engine two had crapped out almost halfway to Hawaii. They were still within range of LAX and the captain made the call, amid warnings of worsening weather near Hawaii, advising LAX control they were turning around to ride the tailwinds back to the coast. 

Kate nodded, wondering if she could convince her union rep the aborted flight counted for her vacation deal.  It wasn't her fault they weren't going to make it to Hawaii.

"Yeah, I definitely see lights." She switched frequencies and tried hailing ground control one more time as they finally neared the coast. 

“LAX control, Aloha 3684—do you read me?”

She was staring at the growing Los Angeles light dome when the flight deck went dark. A split-second later, the glittering lights on the coastline 30 miles out winked out.

"What the hell? Main power failure," snapped the captain. 

The normal hum and hiss of equipment, computers, and recirculated air stopped. The only sound they heard was the wind as it whistled by at 570 miles per hour. Behind her in the cabin she heard a few muffled shouts but otherwise all was quiet.

"Full power loss. Engines one and three are off-line," Kate announced as the pilot struggled with his non-responsive control wheel.  “Two is still out and four is…”

"Warning…warning…warning…" chimed the autopilot.

“Four is what?” grunted the captain.  More alarms called out for attention.

“I get no reading at all,” Kate replied, not believing the data in front of her.  “It’s like the damn thing’s not there.”  She switched her attention to another panel of blinking lights demanding notice.  "Cockpit's on battery—there it is, engine four's off-line now too." 

"Christ,” muttered the captain.  The plane bucked as it began a dive toward its final landing.  “Hit the APUs," ordered the pilot.

"On it—” she announced, throwing switches that would start the onboard backup generators.  “APUs powering up.”

Within seconds, the dials and screens and switches all across the flight deck came back to life. Warning bells chimed from three different directions.

"We're losing altitude fast," observed Kate.  "Down to 20,000 feet."

"I know, I know," grunted the captain.  He struggled with the wheel to keep the plane stable.  "It’s like flying a God damned brick."

They hit a rough patch of air and the plane trembled as it continued to fall.

 

"When do we make the call?" she asked, doing her best to get the engines restarted, with little effect.  “Passing through 15,000 feet."

"Do it," said the pilot.

Kate pressed the transmit button on her yoke.  "This is the flight deck—we've experienced a temporary loss of power.”  She swallowed.  No pilot ever wanted to speak the next words out of her mouth: “Attendants…brace for impact."