Text Excerpts from
Born Again Irish -- The Book
Adventure, drama, a roller coaster ride
through an unusual series of coincidences. The true
story of how a young
New York Italian named Caruso, becomes the Irish O'Caruso by accident.
Part I - Disaster at
Sea and the Joy of Survival (Chapters 1 - 7)
[An Abrupt Beginning]
... It was a
four-engine Lockheed Super Constellation ... known by some insiders to
be “the most reliable three-engine aircraft of its day.” Even though it
had four engines ... the planes were
getting so old that flight crews could only count on three engines
working properly at any given time. Fortunately, no one passed along
that bit of inside information to the passengers ...
... We had engine trouble and knew we
would be hitting the water at some point. Our “emergency landing” was
supposed to be a controlled and orderly ditching of the aircraft ...
“Routine” is the word the captain used in describing our impending fate,
almost as though ditching at sea was a regular occurrence ...
[It's Not So Easy to Be Irish] ... Whether
you fall into it as I did by way of an airplane crash, or if you decide it is something
you want to pursue later in life, it is not so easy to be Irish,
especially if you started out where I did – Italian, New Yorker and
nearly Jewish ... I had a lot of adjusting to do ... To a great extent,
I had to quit being who I was. And, I had an awful lot of quitting to do
[Fire in Engine Three] ... Four miles above the water, I
could still see the white caps on the waves below ... The ocean looked
so cold, desolate and enormous and was getting darker by the minute as
we flew away from the setting sun .... I waited and watched, seeing
nothing at all but the engine and the raging sea ... The engine’s blue
exhaust flames grew
more distinct as the skies blackened. They cast a
hypnotic spell against an eerie backdrop of darkness ... Then, in a
flicker of sparks against the black of night, the spell was broken.
First came orange sparks mixed among the blue glow of the exhaust. Then
the engine to burst into flames! I could nearly touch it.
... The fire went out within a few minutes.
The engine was dead. A few minutes later I noticed that an engine on the
left wing was silent too ... We didn’t know what had happened at the
time. We only knew that we were running on two engines instead of four
and we still had a very long way to go ... The stewardesses told us not
to worry ... “Not to worry?” I thought to myself. “Who are they
kidding?” ... They assured us that two engines were all that were needed
to get us to our alternate destination, Shannon, Ireland ...
[The Crash of the Flying Tiger] ... Five long hours after the first two
engines went out, a third sputtered and died away from the strain ...
The water below our wings was now a raging, chaotic, moving landscape of
jagged, mini-mountains with steep slopes and yawning valleys between.
The pilot was looking for a relatively flat stretch of water between the
peaks ... We were coasting in ...
Now, now, now ... not yet ... now, and — COW-WHAM!! ... It was a
gigantic, heart-stopping, teeth-jolting belly whopper landing.
Everything broke! ... Someone flew over my head. My seat held
fast. The people in the row in front of me were gone. Vanished ...
... The water was so frigid cold that it knocked the breath right out of
me. I gasped for air. The waves were choppy, splashing and frothing,
swirling violently, throwing water everywhere and especially into my
face and mouth ... I was screaming and thinking no words at all, just
inhuman panic ...
[The Raft and the Rescue] ... The raft was
filled with water. The giant, ferocious, icy waves were splashing in,
spraying us with phosphorescent sea life. The light was an eerie green,
the water so cold, it took your breath away again and again ... The sea
was tossing us around without mercy. Up to the top of a wave we would
go, only to drop back down to the bottom, spin around, up and down,
never slowing, always moving, round and round, up and down. Splashing
over the sides, the waves interrupted screams as they cast that
phosphorescent glow ... (end of excerpts)
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