WHY DO YOU ASK?
Ben H. Swett
SAC Alert Barracks
Pease AFB, New Hampshire
Getting acquainted with a substitute co-pilot. This is his half of our breakfast conversation.
Last night? Oh, that must be the dream. I have this dream, quite often, about fire and falling. Mom told me I used to wake up screaming when I was a kid. That must be what you heard ... but everybody has nightmares.
No, it never changes. It's always the same, in every detail.
Well, if you're really interested, it's like this: I'm flying some sort of open cockpit airplane, in combat. Somebody I never see shoots a string of holes across the engine and gas tank, and a sheet of fire rolls back over me -- real hot -- blinding -- not in my eyes, I'm wearing goggles -- but the pain is blinding. The skin of my face is stiff -- crackling. I throw up my hands to protect my face -- see my gloves sprout streaks of smoke, then fire. Have to get out -- fire comes roaring up around my legs -- I'm on fire -- can't breathe -- got to get out -- got to -- got to -- oh -- oh, Gott -- mein Gott ...
Sorry. I'm sorry. It gets pretty real, sometimes. I forget it's a dream.
I can't. I don't have a parachute. I know what they are, but I don't have one -- something about they've been ordered but haven't arrived, or something like that -- I don't remember.
I crawl out of the cockpit to get away from the fire -- my scarf is burning -- burning my neck. I hold on to one of the guns and tear off the scarf -- standing on the lower wing -- I almost fall -- feet swing off -- I grab one of the struts, inch out away from the flames. My jacket is still burning. I look down through the wires, past the propeller -- the engine has stopped, but the whole fuselage is afire and I can see the framework -- the ground is coming up, turning … there's a river, and woods …
All of a sudden, I realize I'm going to die -- and -- I stop. I don't know how to describe it, but I just stop -- and watch myself go on down, hanging onto the wing. I'm so glad to be out of the fire …
It's odd -- my body goes with the airplane but I watch it go. I'm feeling it's too bad -- too bad -- but it's over. A sort of gray mist swirls around me and I wake up. Sometimes I wake up sooner, but always when the mist comes -- that's it -- I always wake up then.
The crash? I don't know; I'm not in it. I stop before it happens -- I don't even see it. The gray comes first -- anyway, they say if you dream of falling and dream you hit the ground, you'll die.
I don't know -- I think it must be German. I remember the black Maltese crosses on the tail as it falls away.
Why a Fokker D-7?
Well, sure, as I said yesterday, I must have built a dozen models of the D-7. It was a fine aircraft.
No, I never built models of any other airplanes. They never interested me much -- but now that you mention it -- it could be a D-7, in the dream.
l926. I was born August third, l926.
Reincarnation? Hell no! I don't believe in reincarnation or mental telepathy or mesmerism or any of that nonsense -- why do you ask?