To Tell the Truth Challenge – Episode 3

You’ve flown with Neil Cosentino before here in OLLI Connects. Most recently on his flight into the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. But before that you crossed the Andes with him, shared a Christmas Eve flight in Spain, and accompanied him on his world record for the shortest flight between airports in a KC-135.  (If you put his name into the Search box on this page, you can find all of the stories Neil’s written for us so far.)

Today’s story is different in that you are a vital part of it, not just a passenger.  When you’ve finished reading it, scroll down to the Comment box, and tell us whether you think it’s merely clever fiction or whether the author has “told the truth”. 

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The Lighthouse Beam Went Off

Bruce Zimmerman

I would normally say, it was a dark and stormy night, but it is likely you have heard that story before, so let me begin with—the sun was rising at Campobello—no, not that one either. The truth goes a little like this. The sun had already risen over the lighthouse at Provincetown, located on the very northern tip of Cape Cod. I estimated it to be about 10 a.m., which should allow ample time to get around Nantucket sound and down into Narragansett Bay. The waters were pretty flat along the National Seashore, but I decided…
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The Picture

Patricia R. Antolino

“Just a week or two, maybe less,” I heard my doctor quietly tell Gillian. She walked him to the door, wished him a good day, and came back to me. “You heard that, right Mom?” she asked, sniffling, holding the embroidered handkerchief her grandfather gave her when she was just a tot. And what a bright, energetic girl she was. She grew to be so accomplished. Married well as the old saying goes. Made me a grandmother to three amazing people. Read more

9/11: My Story — Episode II

Beryl Byles

After two days in the care of Carol and Merlin, Beryl had yet to receive permission to return to Philadelphia. A few more adventures awaited her before she was cleared to embark on a flight home. Episode II concludes with her personal reflections and a warm story describing the purpose of her trip to Brussels.–Editor


Day Three and the Journey Home
The next day, Thursday, Carol needed to complete her planning with three other ministers for a Prayer Service that evening. Merlin also needed to be away and they allowed Joe, Peg and myself to be at their home for what we thought was going to be the morning. The hotline number had been helpful in providing information about departure times, but the delays began to be the norm. Carol came home and suggested that we might like to get out for lunch as a change. As we drove around, I noticed the many flags at half-mast, which felt like a very supportive gesture on the part of our neighbors to the north!

More television that afternoon plus the opportunity to get on email at the home of a neighbor of Carol’s made the time pass quickly. At 6:30 p.m., Carol needed to be at the church for the service.  Read more

   

9/11: My Story — Episode I

Beryl Byles

REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek/Files

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the September 11th attack, a fitting time to publish a memoir penned by a fellow OLLI member. Beryl Byles was a passenger on a return flight from Brussels on that fateful day. Over the course of this week, OLLI Connects will run her story in two episodes. Today’s issue recounts her arrival in Moncton, New Brunswick and continues with a description of the hospitality she received from our neighbor to the north.  On Thursday we will finish her story with Episode 2, including her journey home after nearly four days delayed in Canada until tourists were cleared to fly over US air space. —Editors

Day One

While we each have our own individual story of where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001 and beyond, I want to capture my account of being a “stranded yank” in Canada. This effort represents my need for closure, a way to capture the “extraordinary” so that I can get back into the “ordinary” activities of my life. Hopefully, it also will serve as an invitation for you to share your own individual experience.

I had been airborne for just over an hour on U S Air flight #335 from Brussels at the time of the first attack. Four or so hours later, the pilot informed us that we had experienced higher-than-predicted head winds and, although we certainly had enough fuel to reach our destination of Philadelphia, we would be going into our fuel reserve and he did not like to do that. Therefore, we were going to land in (Moncton, New Brunswick) Canada where the ground crew was prepared to take 45 minutes to add the necessary fuel before we would continue on our way. (I think the 45-minute timeframe was geared to allay the anxieties of the majority of the passengers who were scheduled to make connecting flights in Philadelphia.)  Read more

Hurricane Andrew

Neil Cosentino

On August 24, 1992, my Florida Civil Air Patrol (CAP) hurricane mission started with a midnight telephone call from Florida CAP headquarters. They needed a pilot as soon as possible to fly to Homestead. I took off solo around one a.m. from Vandenberg airport, now Tampa Executive Airport (VDF) and flew near the red lines direct from Tampa to Lantana Airport. Our trusty 310 Squadron Cessna 172 purred all the way – it was good karma – not one rough engine sound. That always seems to happen at night over that pitch black hole called the Everglades.

I arrived just before sunrise and after refueling, getting a cup of fresh coffee and a fast but very simple briefing, I took off at dawn for Homestead.  Read more

The Honeymoon

Linda Ho

Eva excitedly tore into the long awaited package that held the most innovative, must have, technologically advanced travel brochures. They were very expensive but considering the cost of the wedding it was a small price to pay and was definitely worth it.

In less than six months she would be married to her childhood sweetheart Leland, and all the details of the wedding had been carefully planned for months and arrangements completed except for the honeymoon. This was a matter of considerable concern, as they had very different ideas on where to spend their precious two weeks.

Most travel brochures and videos were old-fashioned, limited to sight and sound and lacked the ability to…

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The Last Sail of the Mayaguana

Neil Cosentino

For reasons I no longer remember, I decided that day to move the Mayaguana to a new location. Was it luck?  Fate?  I’ll never know.

The boat had been neglected and unused for years, an old all-wooden sloop built on Man-O-War Cay. At 37 feet from stem to stern, she had a small cabin and had been used in the early days as a government mail boat.

It was a hasty decision to leave Salt Cay, Nassau, in the Bahamas for our destination: Treasure Cay Resort in the Hub of the Abacos. I decided to take Tete along with me. He was a Haitian employee who had sailing experience.  As the company pilot, I often joked that I knew only two things about boating: keep the pointed end in the direction you are going and keep water out of it.

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Perfect Day at Circle B Bar Reserve

Diane White

The OLLI-USF Outdoors “hikers” explored one of their favorite places, Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, on a beautiful day in March. We would like to share it in words, but mostly pictures, with OLLI Connects readers.

If you are looking for a great place to take your out-of-town visitors, or just go for a stroll to take in amazing wildlife, this is the place to go. One of our members, Sheryl, wrote, “With the exception of the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, Circle B Bar had the biggest variety of wildlife I’ve seen of all my hikes in Florida.”

What will you see? In many places you will see birds on the left, birds on the right. You might see a great blue heron and gator face off.  View more

Crossing the Andes

Neil Cosentino

We were at 24,000 feet, unpressurized and on oxygen, as we crossed the Peruvian Andes eastbound toward the Amazon basin. I had selected Talara, Peru, to spend the night before the crossing. In the morning I refueled, checked the weather and notices-to-airmen, and filed our flight plan to Iquitos, Peru. Our twin-engine Piper Navajo was running like a Swiss watch, and that was important, for at all points east, beyond the Andes, any aircraft problem would mean very long delays.

We departed, climbing to the northeast, and when we passed 12,500 feet, I turned on the no smoking sign and told the others to go on oxygen. We continued climbing to 24,000, the safe altitude for crossing over the Chiclayo pass, and then descended into the Amazonas to follow the Marañón River to our destination—Iquitos, Peru.
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