Артур Хейли / Arthur Hailey Аэропорт / Airport
© Arthur Hailey, 1968
© Random House, USA, Knopf Doubleday
© Прокофьева О. Н., адаптация текста, комментарии, 2018
© ООО «Издательство АСТ», 2018
Part One 6:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. (CST)
At half-past six on a Friday evening in January, Lincoln International Airport, Illinois, was functioning, though with difficulty, because of the meanest, roughest winter storm in half a dozen years. The storm had lasted three days.
A United Air Lines food truck, loaded with two hundred dinners, was lost in snow somewhere on the airport perimeter. A search for the truck in storm had so far failed.
Out on the airfield, runway three zero was out of use. It was blocked by an Aéreo-Mexican jet—a Boeing 707. Its wheels were deeply mired in the ground beneath snow.
In the main passenger terminal, chaos predominated. Terminal waiting areas were jammed with thousands of passengers from delayed or canceled flights.
The wonder was, Mel Bakersfeld, airport general manager, reflected, that anything was continuing to operate at all.
At the airport, maintenance snow crews were nearing exhaustion. Within the past few hours several men had been ordered home over-fatigued.
At the Snow Control Desk near Mel, Danny Farrow—at other times an assistant airport manager, now snow shift supervisor—was calling Maintenance Snow Center by radiophone.
“We’re losing the parking lots. I need six more Payloaders and a banjo team.”
“Sure, sure. Six more Payloaders. We’ll get ‘em from Santa Claus.” A pause, then more aggressively, “Any other stupid notions?”
Glancing at Danny, Mel shook his head. He recognized the speakerphone voice as belonging to a senior foreman who had probably worked continuously since the present snowfall started. Usually, after a snow-fighting winter, airport maintenance and management had a party, which they called “kiss-and-make-up night”. They would certainly need one this year.
Danny said reasonably, “We sent four Payloaders after that United food truck. They should be through, or almost.”
“They might be—if we could find the truck.”
“You haven’t located it yet?”
“Listen, do you birds in the penthouse have any idea what it’s like out on the field? Maybe you should look out the windows once in a while.”