Quite a Quote

The A.S.I. soon registers 375 m.p.h. It is clear that I am in an almost perpendicular dive. I read on the illuminated figures of the altimeter 6900, 6600, 6000, 5400, 5100, 4800, 4500 feet. At this rate it is only a matter of seconds before there will be a crash, and that will be the end. I am in a sweat; water just pours off me. Is it rain or is it sweat? 3900, 3300, 2400, 1800, 1500 on the altimeter. Gradually I succeed in getting the other instruments functioning properly except for an alarming pressure on the joy stick. So I continue to hurtle earthwards. The vertical speed indicator is still set at maximum. All this time I am completely benighted. Ghostly lightning flashes stab the darkness, making it even more difficult to fly by instruments. I pull on the stick with both hands to bring the aircraft back into a horizontal position. Altitude 1500, 1200 feet! The blood is throbbing in my temples, I gasp for breath. Something inside me urges me to give up this struggle with the unleashed forces of the elements. Why go on? All my efforts are of no avail. Now it also strikes me that the altimeter has stopped at 600 feet; it still oscillates feebly like an exhausted barometer. That means the crash will come at any moment with the altimeter still registering 600 feet. No, carry on, dourly, with might and main. A groaning thump. There now, I am dead. . . I think. Dead.? If I were I should not be able to think. Besides, I can still hear the noise of the engine. It is still as dark all around as it was before, and now the unruffled voice of Scharnovski says serenely: “It looks as if we had bumped into something or other, sir.”

Rudel, Hans Ulrich. Stuka Pilot. London: Black House Publishing, 2013.

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