Yankees 2103 part 1
on 6/13/2003 (2)
The waning days of summer in the Ohio River valley are ones of great meteorological paradox. A tropical gush of Gulf air often rushes through the flat, glacial worn terrain, where it collides with advancing ice burgs of frigid Canadian air called “Clippers”. The resulting collision is often one of great violence, as the Goliath air masses engage, creating winds of 150 mph, great torrential rains, tornados, rolling thunder and great flashes of lightning, briefly illuminating the sultry, fetid hills.
The indigenous Iroquois Indians are said to have created elaborate rituals to ward off these great late summer storms, and believed something terrible was brought about in their passing. As is often true, the superstitions of the savage are often rooted in scientific fact.
Yankees head coach Joe Torre tapped a pencil against his teeth apprehensively. He had plenty to worry about. New York just came off of the receiving end of a 4-0 sweep by the lowly Detroit Tigers, and Roger Clemens was out for 6 weeks with a broken thumb.
Their 10 game lead over Boston in the AL east had slipped to 1 game, and the upcoming series with the red-hot Indians didn't assuage his aching head and tired nerves either.
Neither did the weather.
Great flashes of lightning speckled the graying September 2nd night sky. Derek Jeter, not a big fan of flying, shuttered his window and fingered a baseball nervously. Turbulence bumped and jostled the great Boeing 747 like a railroad car. The passengers were very quiet.
"Man I hate flying. I just can't get used to the idea. Just ain't natural."
Jeter withdrew a well-worn photo of his wife from his shirt pocket and playfully snagged a French fry off of Andy Pettitt's tray.
"Ahhh,no sweat. As much as we're in the air, I lost interest years ago. Just turn up your oxygen, and stop stealing my fries dammit!"
Jeter mustered a weak grin and put the photo of his wife away.
He adjusted his head rest and fell into a fitfull sleep.
Dreaming, he found himself atop a large rocky crag, looking down into a canyon far below. On the horizon, the distant light of an ancient steam locomotive shimmered in the distance.
September 2, 1925. The captured German Zeppelin Shenandoaha had just departed Lakehurst, N.J. on an extended publicity tour of the Midwest. Captain Zachary Lansdowne eyed his flight orders uneasily. An Ohio native, he knew the fury that Midwest late summer storms could unleash, and was adamant against flying a 680 foot bag of helium gas into the churning masses of colliding air. He voiced his discontent adamantly, as a doomed man would. His plea fell on deaf ears. The Navy wanted a show.
And a show the Shenandoah was. Over 200 yards long, it was handed over to the U.S. by the German general staff in 1920. It was designed to drop bombs on England, but was converted into a long-range reconnaissance dirigible by the Navy.
Non-flammable Helium was used in place of dangerous Hydrogen, but it made the massive blimp scarcely safer. Zeppelins were oversized, and underpowered. A stiff breeze could send them careening out of control. Shenandoah had already had two brushes with death. She lost her nose to a strong gust at a Lakehurst mooring mast, and was brought about and landed, luckily, by 17 maintenance men who happened to be on board. The second event nearly drove her into mountains above Arizona.
Neither compared with the violence of an Ohio late summer storm, and Lansdowne knew it. He braced himself uneasily against the fragile gondola framework, the droning throb of the massive diesel engines drowning out thought and senses.
On board the American Airlines 747, navigator Chuck Steele tapped the Doppler screen nervously.
"What do you make of that, Jack? It looks like a damn hurricane, only 3-4 kilometers in dia
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