Authors: Allan Leverone
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Espionage
|Tags:||Thrillers, Espionage, Fiction|
Reeling from the brutal murder of his wife, air traffic controller Nick Jensen throws himself into his work at Logan International Airport in Boston. Returning to the operations room from a break, he sees three heavily armed men dressed in black fatigues and patrolling the corridors of the supposedly secure FAA facility. After having murdered two armed guards, the terrorists have unfettered access to the control tower while the president of the United States is nearing Logan Airport. To dismantle the terrorist assassination plot, Nick must risk everything.
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Send completed reviews to [email protected] Atlas flight #317 is in trouble and needs to land immediately.
Air traffic controller Nick Jensen is working the final vector position and must bring the plane in safely--but that's not his only problem.
Unbeknownst to Nick, his wife, a Pentagon auditor, has just discovered potentially treasonous material on a fellow employee's computer. On her way home to Nick, she is followed . . . by an assassin.
Reeling from the brutal murder of his wife, Nick throws himself into his work at the ATC facility of Boston's Logan International Airport. During another midnight shift, while returning to the ops room from a break, he sees three heavily armed men dressed head to toe in black fatigues and patrolling the corridors of the supposedly secure FAA facility. The terrorists have murdered two armed guards and, with the dead men's key cards, gained unfettered access.
Meanwhile, the president of the United States is on his way to Logan's International Airport.
To rescue a friend and dismantle the terrorists' assassination plot, Nick must risk everything.
The clock is ticking as Air Force One approaches its final vector.
Jackie piped up, his normally high-pitched voice rising a couple of octaves. "So we're going to use these Stinger missiles to shoot down an airplane?"
"That is exactly correct," Tony answered. "But not just any airplane. The president is flying into Logan International Airport in Boston very early next Sunday morning. We will be removing him from office. Permanently."
"The president? The president of what?"
"What do you think?"
Stunned silence filled the room as the significance of Tony's statement began to sink in.
"The president of the United States?" Joe-Bob whispered.
"We're going to shoot down Air Force One?"
Tony's eyes glittered like hard black diamonds as he turned his cool smile on his small band of revolutionaries--the group that was about to change the course of history. "That is correct.
President Cartwright is scheduled to celebrate the reopening of a historic church in Boston. I have learned that he will be flying into the airport around 5:00 a.m. next Sunday in order to arrive at the church in time to attend a sunrise service. He is then scheduled to lunch in the city with some of his major political contributors before flying back to Washington in early afternoon.
"Of course, as we now know, he will do none of those things, because he will be dead, lying at the bottom of a smoking hole in the ground just shy of Logan Airport. With a little bit of luck, perhaps people in the city will be killed as well, but that remains to be seen."
Chaos erupted and then died down immediately when Tony held up a hand to silence his men.
Brian shook his head. "But how will we know where the plane is going to be and when to fire the missile? It's a big sky out there."
Tony smiled again. "We'll know because we're going to tell the pilot where we want him to go."
"Boston Approach Control, this is Atlas 317. We've, uh, we've got a bit of a problem here."
Nick Jensen swore lightly under his breath. "Great," he mumbled to no one in particular. "A problem. Just what I need to hear when I've got airplanes out the ass."
It was Thursday night in the BCT--the Boston Consolidated TRACON--in Merrimack, New Hampshire, and the weather had been steadily deteriorating all afternoon. A massive low-pressure area was sweeping up the East Coast, carrying moist, unstable air and bringing high winds and heavy rains along for the ride.
The dark room hummed with the murmured voices of eight air traffic controllers sitting side by side facing eight separate radar scopes. Each controller was working a piece of the airspace immediately surrounding Boston's Logan International Airport, and each one was solely responsible for maintaining a safe and orderly flow of the airborne traffic transiting his or her sector.
Nick was working Boston's Final Vector position, so he was responsible for sequencing and spacing all of Logan's arrival traffic, which was being fed to him by the surrounding sectors. For the hour and a half or so that he would be assigned to the position, it was his job to literally get all his ducks in a row. Using altitude separation, speed control, and unique headings issued to each pilot, called vectors, Nick was systematically turning each arrival onto the ILS--instrument landing system--that served Runway 4
Right at Logan. The Final Vector controller was tasked with maintaining the minimum separation legally permissible, but absolutely no less than that, in order to get all the traffic on the ground with the least possible delays.
With the low overcast ceilings and reduced visibility caused by the wind-driven rain, every arrival into Logan as well as all the arrivals into the smaller airports in Boston's airspace were being vectored for the precision approach guidance that ILS systems provided. At the moment a dozen airplanes clogged Nick's tiny chunk of airspace, and the last thing he wanted to hear was that one of those planes was experiencing some difficulty. The strained urgency in the voice of the Global Airlines pilot, though, told him that this wasn't your garden-variety equipment issue--this might be serious.
Nick pushed the foot pedal on the floor, keying the mike on his headset that allowed him to speak to all the airplanes on the discrete radio frequency assigned to his sector. "Global 317, go ahead. What's the nature of your problem?"
"Ah, we've got smoke in the cabin." The pilot's voice came back professional but clearly tense. "And it's getting thick in here very quickly. We are either on fire or are experiencing a serious electrical problem. We need to get this crate on the ground.
Nick half turned in his wheeled swivel chair and yelled across the room to the watch supervisor, Earl Washington, seated at a desk behind the row of controllers manning the radar scopes.
"Hey, Earl, I've got an emergency here, and I think it might be a bad one."
He pressed the foot pedal again. "Roger, Atlas 317. We'll get you right in. Descend and maintain three thousand, and turn right heading three-one-zero." He was turning the Global Air Boeing 757 directly at Logan's final approach course and would be forced to break out at least two other airplanes already established on the final, which at the moment extended nearly thirty miles to the southwest of Logan Airport.
As Earl coordinated with the supervisor on duty in the Logan control tower--the facility located right on the airfield responsible for separating the traffic on the surface of the airport--Nick rapidly issued a series of turns to all of the airplanes affected by the unexpected emergency, taking them off the final approach course and explaining the situation as he went. Time was a valuable commodity if the Atlas flight really was on fire. "Rapid Air 400, cancel your approach clearance, turn left heading two-seven-zero, and climb
to maintain four thousand. I'm giving your spot to an aircraft inbound with an emergency."
"Rapid 400, roger. Left to two-seventy and hurry on up to four thousand."
"North American 28, cancel your approach clearance and maintain three thousand. Turn left heading two-seven-zero. This is a vector off the final for inbound emergency traffic."
"North American 28, roger. Left to west and we'll maintain three thousand."
By now Earl had positioned himself directly behind Nick's chair. The normally chaotic buzz of voices in the TRACON--Terminal Radar Approach Control--had dropped to an almost rev-erential, churchlike quiet as all the other controllers in the room recognized that a serious situation had developed on the Final Vector position. The sectors feeding arrivals to Nick immediately began "spinning" their airplanes, turning them away from Nick's airspace and holding them in their own sectors. They knew Nick was juggling far too much traffic now to take any more until the emergency situation was resolved.
Earl bent down and spoke quietly in Nick's ear, "When you can get it, we're going to need--"
"I know," Nick replied. "Souls on board and amount of fuel remaining. I'm getting to that." Standard emergency protocol dictated that the number of people on board the aircraft and the amount of fuel remaining in its tanks get passed to the emergency response personnel on the ground as soon as possible. The rescue crews needed to prepare for the potential worst-case scenario--a plane crash at the airport.
Nick keyed his mike. Despite the skyrocketing stress level and the chaotic situation unfolding on the radar scope in front of him, he maintained a calm demeanor on the frequency. Sounding in control meant being in control. "Global 317, you're only about eight miles from the ILS final approach fix. Will you be able to get down from there?" Turning the plane toward the airport too soon and then finding out the pilot would not be able to descend rapidly enough to land would be the worst thing Nick could do.
"We're doing our best," came the answer. "It's getting really hard to see the instruments in here with all the smoke. Yeah, we'll get down because we have to. We need to put this big tin can on the ground."
"Atlas 317, roger. Turn right heading zero-two-zero and intercept the Runway 4 Right localizer. I know you're very busy up there, but when you can get to it, we need souls on board and fuel remaining."
"Zero-two-zero to join the localizer, and we have . . . let's see . .
. one hundred seventeen people with a little over two hours of fuel."
"Roger that, Atlas 317. You're doing great with the descent.
Your position is five miles from the final approach fix. Descend and maintain two thousand until established on the localizer, cleared ILS Runway 4 Right approach."
Nick inclined his head slightly toward Earl without taking his eyes off the scope. "One hundred seventeen people and two hours of fuel."
He didn't wait for a response from the supervisor; he was already busy formulating a plan to deal with the other arrivals, all of which were now completely out of position thanks to the emergency. Hopefully Global Air 317 would be safely on the ground soon, but Nick's work was just beginning. "Liberty Air 5, you're now gon-na follow a Boeing 757 on the final. Caution for wake turbulence."
"Liberty 5, roger. We'll be careful."
"North American 28, continue your left turn heading two-three-zero. I'll get you right back in as soon as I can."
"North American 28, left to two-thirty. No problem. We understand."
"Swift 400, you can also turn left heading two-three-zero.
Thanks a lot for the fast climb to four thousand feet."