ON THE GROUND control radio in his speeding car, Mel Bakersfeld could hear airport emergency vehicles being summoned and positioned.
"Ground control to city twenty-five."
Twenty-five was the call sign of the airport fire chief.
"This is city twenty-five rolling. Go ahead ground."
"Further information, Category two emergency in approximately thirty-five minutes. The flight in question is disabled and landing on runway three zero, if runway open. If not open, will use runway two five."
Whenever they could, airport controllers avoided naming, on radio, an airline involved in any accident, or a potential one, The phrase "the flight in question" was used as a cover. Airlines were touchy about such things, taking the view that the fewer times their name was repeated in that kind of context, the better.
Just the same, Mel was aware, what had happened tonight would get plenty of publicity, most likely worldwide.
"City twenty-five to ground control. Is the pilot requesting foam on runway?"
"No foam. Repeat, no foam."
The absence of foam meant that the aircraft had serviceable landing gear and would not require a belly landing.
All emergency vehicles, Mel knew---pumpers, salvage trucks, and ambulances---would be following the fire chief, who also had a separate radio channel to communicate with them individually. When an emergency was notified, no one waited. They observed the principle: better to be ready too soon than too late. Emergency crews would now take up position between the two runways, ready to move to either as necessary. The procedure was no improvisation. Every move for situations like this was detailed in an airport emergency master plan.
When there was a break in transmissions, Mel thumbed on his own radio mike.
"Ground control from mobile one."
"Mobile one, go ahead."
"Has Joe Patroni, with stalled aircraft on runway three zero, been advised of new emergency situation?"
"Affirmative. We are in radio touch."
"What is Patroni's report on progress?"
"He expects to move the obstructing aircraft in twenty minutes."
"Is he certain?"
Mel Bakersfeld waited before transmitting again. He was heading across the airfield for the second time tonight, one hand on the wheel, the other on the microphone---driving as fast as he dared in the continued blowing snow and restricted visibility. Taxi and runway lights, guidelines in the dark, flashed by. Beside him on the car's front seat were Tanya Livingston and the Tribune reporter, Tomlinson.
A few minutes ago, when Tanya had handed Mel her note about the explosion aboard Flight Two, and the flight's attempt to reach Lincoln International, Mel had broken free instantly from the crowd of Meadowood residents. With Tanya beside him, he headed for the elevators which would take him to the basement garage two floors below, and his official airport car. Mel's place now was on runway three zero, if necessary to take charge. Shouldering his way through the crowd in the main concourse, he had caught sight of the Tribune reporter and said tersely, "Come with me." He owed Tomlinson a favor in return for the reporter's tip-off about Elliott Freemantle---both the legal contract form and the lawyer's mendacious statements later, which Mel had been able to repudiate. When Tomlinson hesitated, Mel snapped, "I haven't time to waste. But I'm giving you a chance you may be sorry for not taking." Without further questioning, Tomlinson fell in step beside him.
Now, as they drove, Mel accelerating ahead of taxiing aircraft where he could, Tanya repeated the substance of the news about Flight Two.
"Let me get this straight," Tomlinson said. "There's only one runway long enough, and facing the right direction?"
Mel said grimly, "That's the way it is. Even though there should be two." He was remembering bitterly the proposals he had made, over three successive years, for an additional runway to parallel three zero. The airport needed it. Traffic volume and aircraft safety cried out for implementation of Mel's report, particularly since the runway would take two years to build. But other influences proved stronger. Money had not been found, the new runway had not been built. Nor had construction---despite Mel's further pleas---yet been approved.
With a good many projects, Mel could swing the Board of Airport Commissioners his way. In the case of the proposed new runway, he had canvassed them individually and received promises of support, but later the promises were withdrawn. Theoretically, airport commissioners were independent of political pressure; in fact, they owed their appointments to the mayor and, in most cases, were political partisans themselves. If pressure was put on the mayor to delay an airport bond issue because of other projects, similarly financed and more likely to swing votes, the pressure penetrated through. In the case of the proposed new runway it not only penetrated, but three times had proved effective. Ironically, as Mel remembered earlier tonight, triple-decking of the airport's public parking lots---less necessary, but more visible---had not been held up.
Briefly, and in plain words, which until now he had reserved for private sessions, Mel described the situation, including its political overtones.
"I'd like to use all that as coming from you." Tomlinson's voice held the controlled excitement of a reporter who knew he was on to a good story. "May I?"
There would be the devil to pay after it appeared in print, Mel realized; he could imagine the indignant telephone calls from City Hall on Monday morning. But someone should say it. The public ought to know how serious the situation was.
"Go ahead," Mel said. "I guess I'm in a quoting mood."
"That's what I thought." From the far side of the car the reporter regarded Mel quizzically. "If you don't mind my saying so, you've been in great form tonight. Just now, and with the lawyer and those Meadowood people. More like your old self. I haven't heard you speak out like that in a long while."
Mel kept his eyes on the taxiway ahead, waiting to pass an Eastern DC-8, which was turning left. But he was thinking: Had his demeanor of the past year or two, the absence of his old fiery spirit, been so obvious that others had noticed it also?
Beside him, close enough so that Mel was conscious of her nearness and warmth, Tanya said softly, "Ali the time we're talking... about runways, the public, Meadowood, other things... I'm thinking about those people on Flight Two. I wonder how they're feeling, if they're afraid."
"They're afraid, all right," Mel said. "If they've any sense, and provided they know what's happening. I'd be afraid, too."
He was remembering his own fear when he had been trapped in the sinking Navy airplane, long ago. As if triggered by memory, he felt a surge of pain around the old wound in his foot. In the past hour's excitement he had adjusted to ignoring it, but as always, with tiredness and overstrain, the effect forced itself on him in the end. Mel compressed his lips tightly and hoped that soon the seizure would lessen or pass.
He had been waiting for another gap in ground-to-ground radio exchanges. As one occurred, Mel depressed his mike button once more.
"Mobile one to ground control. Do you have report on how critical is the requirement of the flight in distress for runway three zero?"
"Mobile one, we understand very critical. Is that Mr. Bakersfeld?"
"Yes, it is."
"Stand by, sir. We're getting more information now."
Still driving, nearing runway three zero, Mel waited. What came next would determine whether or not to follow the drastic course of action he was contemplating.
"Ground control to mobile one. Following message just received, via Chicago Center, from flight in question. Message begins. Straight-in course to Lincoln no good if ends on runway two five. Airplane heavily loaded, will be landing very fast..."
The trio in the car listened tensely to the report of Vernon Demerest's message. At the words, "If we're brought in on two five there'll be a broken airplane and dead people," Mel heard Tanya's sharp intake of breath, felt her shudder beside him.
He was about to acknowledge when ground control transmitted again.
"Mobile one---Mr. Bakersfeld, there is an addition to previous message, personal to you, from your brotherin-law. Can you reach a phone?"
"Negative," Mel said. "Read it now, please."
"Mobile one"---he sensed the controller hesitate---"the language is very personal."
The controller was aware---as Mel was---that many ears around the airport would be listening.
"Does it concern the present situation?"
"Then read it."
"Yes, sir. Message begins. 'You helped make this trouble, you bastard, by not listening to me about airport flight insurance..."
Mel's mouth tightened, but he waited to the end, then acknowledged non-committally, "Roger, out." He was sure that Vernon had enjoyed sending the message, as much as anything could be enjoyed aboard Flight Two at present, and would be even more pleased to learn the way it was received.
The extra message was unnecessary, though. Mel had already made his decision on the basis of the first.
His car was now speeding down runway three zero. The circle of floodlights and vehicles surrounding the mired Aereo-Mexican 707 jet were coming into sight. Mel noted approvingly that the runway was only lightly snow-covered. Despite the blockage of one portion, the remainder had been kept plowed.
He switched his radio to the frequency of airport maintenance.
"Mobile one to Snow Desk."
"This is Snow Desk." Danny Farrow's voice sounded tired, which was not surprising. "Go ahead."
"Danny," Mel said, "break the Conga Line. Send the Oshkosh plows and heavy graders across to runway three zero. They're to head for where the stuck airplane is, and await instructions. Get them started now, then call me back."
"Roger, wilco." Danny seemed about to add a question, then apparently changed his mind. A moment later, on the same frequency, the occupants of the car heard him issue orders to the Conga Line convoy leader.
The Tribune reporter leaned forward around Tanya.
"I'm still fitting pieces together," Tomlinson said. "That bit about flight insurance... Your brother-in-law's an Air Line Pilots Association wheel, isn't he?"
"Yes." Mel halted the car on the runway, a few feet short of the circle of lights around the big, stalled aircraft. There was plenty of action, he could see; beneath the aircraft fuselage, and on both sides, men were digging feverishly. The stocky form of Joe Patroni was visible directing activities. In a moment Mel would join him, after the return radio call from Danny Farrow at the Snow Desk.
The reporter said thoughtfully, "I think I heard something awhile back. Didn't your brother-in-law make a big play to cancel insurance vending here---the way ALPA wants to---and you turned him down?"
"I didn't turn him down. The airport board did, though I agreed with them."
"If it isn't an unfair question, has what's happened tonight made you change your mind?"
Tanya protested, "Surely this isn't the time..."
"I'll answer that," Mel said. "I haven't changed my mind, at least not yet. But I'm thinking about it."
Mel reasoned: the time for a change of heart about flight insurance---if there was to be one---was not now, in the height of emotion and the wake of tragedy. In a day or two, what had occurred tonight would be seen in better perspective. Mel's own decision---whether to urge the airport board to revise its policy, or not---should be made then. Meanwhile, no one could deny that tonight's events added strength to Vernon Demerest's---and the Air Line Pilots Association---arguments.
Possibly, Mel supposed, a compromise might be worked out. An ALPA spokesman once confided to him that the pilots did not expect their anti-airport insurance campaign to be won, either outright or quickly; success would take years and "would have to be cut like bologna---a slice at a time." One slice at Lincoln International miglit be to prohibit use of non-supervised insurance vending machines, as some airports had already done. One state---Colorado---had outlawed the machines by Legislative Act. Other states, Mel knew, were considering similar legislation, though there was nothing to stop airports, meanwhile, from acting on their own.
It was the insurance vending machine system which Mel liked least, even though D. O. Guerrero's huge insurance policy tonight had not been bought that way. Then, if over-the-counter sales remained---for a few more years until public opinion could be molded---there would have to be more safeguards...
Even though Mel had resolved not to make a firm decision, it was obvious to himself which way his reasoning was going.
The radio, still tuned to airport maintenance frequency, had been busy with calls between vehicles. Now it announced, "Snow Desk to mobile one."
Mel responded, "Go ahead, Danny."
"Four plows and three graders, with convoy leader, are on their way to runway three zero as instructed. What orders, please?"
Mel chose his words carefully, aware that somewhere in an electronic maze beneath the control tower they were being recorded on tape. Later he might have to justify them. He also wanted to be sure there was no misunderstanding.
"Mobile one to Snow Desk. All plows and graders, under direction of convoy leader, will stand by near Aereo-Mexican aircraft which is blocking runway three zero. Vehicles are not, repeat not, initially to obstruct the aircraft, which in a few minutes will attempt to move under its own power. But if that attempt fails, plows and graders will be ordered in to push the aircraft sideways, and to clear the runway. This will be done at any cost, and with all speed. Runway three zero must be open for use in approximately thirty minutes, by which time the obstructing aircraft and all vehicles must be clear. I will coordinate with air traffic control to decide at what time the plows will be ordered in, if necessary. Acknowledge, and confirm. that these instructions are understood"
Inside the car the reporter, Tomlinson, whistled softly. Tanya turned toward Mel, her eyes searching his face.
On radio there were several seconds' silence, then Danny Farrow's voice. "I guess I understand. But I'd better be sure." He repeated the gist of the message, and Mel could imagine Danny sweating again, as he had been earlier.
"Roger," Mel acknowledged. "But be clear about one thing. If those plows and graders go in, I'll give the order; no one else."
"It's clear," Danny radioed. "And better you than me. Mel, I guess you've figured what that equipment of ours'll do to a 707."
"It'll move it," Mel said tersely. "Right now that's the important thing." There was, Mel knew, other motorized equipment in Airport Maintenance, capable of the same kind of brute force clearing job; but using the Conga Line units, already on the runways, would be surer and faster. He signed off, and replaced the radio mike.
Tomlinson said incredulously, "Move it! A six-million dollar airplane shoved sideways by snowplows! My God, you'll tear it to pieces! And afterward, the owners and insurers'll do the same to you."
"I wouldn't be surprised," Mel said. "Of course, a lot depends on your point of view. If the owners and insurers were on that other flight coming in, they might be cheering."
"Well," the reporter conceded, "I'll grant you there are some decisions take a lot of guts."
Tanya's hand reached down beside her and found Mel's. She said softly, emotion in her voice, "I'm cheering---for what you're doing now. Whatever happens after, I'll remember."
The plows and graders which Mel had summoned were coming into sight, traveling fast down the runway, roof beacons flashing.
"It may never happen." Mel squeezed Tanya's hand before releasing it, then opened the car door. "We've twenty minutes to hope it won't."
WHEN MEL Bakersfeld approached him, Joe Patroni was stomping his feet in an effort to be warm; the effort was largely unsuccessful despite the fleece-lined boots and heavy parka the TWA maintenance chief was wearing. Apart from the brief time Patroni had spent on the aircraft flight deck when the Aereo-Mexican captain and first officer departed, he had been continuously out in the storm since his arrival on the scene more than three hours ago. As well as being cold and physically tired from his various exertions of the day and night, his failure to move the stranded jet despite two attempts so far, had made his temper ready to erupt.
It almost did, at the news of Mel's intention.
With anyone else, Joe Patroni would have stormed and ranted. Because Mel was a close friend, Patrord removed the unlighted cigar he had been chewing, and eyed Mel unbelievingly. "Shove an undamaged airplane with snowplows! Are you out of your mind?"
"No," Mel said. "I'm out of runways."
Mel fell a momentary depression at the thought that no one in authority, other than himself, seemed to understand the urgency of clearing three zero, at any cost. Obviously, if he went ahead as he intended, there would be few who would support his action afterward. On the other hand, Mel had not the least doubt there would be plenty of people tomorrow with hindsight---including Aereo-Mexican officials---who would assert he could have done this or that, or that Flight Two should have landed on runway two five after all. Obviously his decision was to be a lonely one. It did not change Mel's conviction that it should be made.
At the sight of the assembled plows and graders, now deployed in line on the runway, to their right, Patroni dropped his cigar altogether. As he produced another he growled, "I'll save you from your own insanity. Keep those Dinky Toys of yours out of my hair and away from this airplane. In fifteen minutes, maybe less, I'll drive it out."
Mel shouted to make himself heard above the wind and roaring engines of vehicles around them. "Joe, let's be clear about one thing. When the tower tells us we're running out of time, that's it; there'll be no argument. People's lives are involved on the flight that's coming in. If you've engines running, they're to be shut down. At the same time all equipment and the men must move clear immediately. Make sure in advance that all your people understand. The plows will move on my order. If and when they do, they won't waste time."
Patroni nodded gloomily. Despite his outburst, Mel thought, the maintenance chief's usual cocky self-assurance seemed abated.
Mel returned to his car. Tanya and the reporter, huddled in their coats, had been standing outside, watching the work of digging around the aircraft. They got into the car with him, grateful for the warmth inside.
Once more, Mel called ground control on radio, this time asking for the tower watch chief. After a brief pause, the tower chief's voice came on the air.
In a few words Met explained his intention. What he sought from air traffic control now was an estimate of how long he could wait before ordering the plows and graders to move. Once they did, it would take only minutes to have the obstructing aircraft clear.
"The way it looks now," the tower chief said, "the flight in question will be here sooner than we thought. Chicago Center expects to hand over to our approach control in twelve minutes from now. After that we'll be controlling the flight for eight to ten minutes before landing, which would make time of touchdown, at latest, 0128."
Mel checked his watch in the dim light from the dash. It showed 1:01 A.M.
"A choice of which runway to use," the tower chief said, "will have to be made no later than five minutes before landing. After that, they'll be committed; we can't turn them."
So what it meant, Mel calculated, was that his own final decision must be made in another seventeen minutes, perhaps less, depending on the handover time from Chicago Center to Lincoln approach control. There was even less time remaining than he had told Joe Patroai.
Mel found he, too, was beginning to sweat.
Should he warn Patroni again, informing him of the reduced time? Mel decided not. The maintenance chief was already directing operations at the fastest pace he could. Nothing would be gained by harassing him further.
"Mobile one to ground control," Mel radioed. "I'll need to be kept informed of exact status of the approaching flight. Can we hold this frequency clear?"
"Affirmative," the tower chief said. "We've already moved regular traffic to another frequency. We'll keep you informed."
Mel acknowledged and signed off.
Beside him, Tanya asked, "What happens now?"
"We wait." Mel checked his watch again.
A minute went by. Two.
Outside they could see men working, still digging feverishly near the front and on each side of the mired aircraft. With a flash of headlights, another truck arrived; men jumped down from its tailgate and hastened to join the others. Joe Patroni's stocky figure was moving constantly, instructing and exhorting.
The plows and graders were still in line, waiting. In a way, Mel thought, like vultures.
The reporter, Tomlinson, broke the silence inside the car.
"I was just thinking. When I was a kid, which isn't all that long ago, most of this place was fields. In summer there were cows and corn and barley. There was a grass airfield; small; nobody thought it would amount to much. If anyone traveled by air, they used the airport in the city."
"That's aviation," Tanya said. She felt a momentary relief at being able to think and talk of something other than what they were waiting for. She went on, "Somebody told me once that working in aviation makes a lifetime seem longer because everything changes so often and so fast."
Tomlinson objected, "Not everything's fast. With airports, the changes aren't fast enough. Isn't it true, Mr. Bakersfeld, that within three to four years there'll be chaos?"
"Chaos is always relative," Mel said; the focus of his mind was still on the scene he could see through the car windshield. "In a good many ways we manage to live with it."
"Aren't you dodging the question?"
"Yes," he conceded. "I suppose I am."
It was scarcely surprising, Mel thought. He was less concerned with aviation philosophy at this moment than with the immediacy of what was happening outside. But he sensed Tanya's need for a lessening of tension, even if illusory; his awareness of her feelings was part of the empathy they seemed increasingly to share. He reminded himself, too, that it was a Trans America flight they were waiting for, and which might land safely or might not. Tanya was a part of Trans America, had helped with the flight's departure. In a real sense, of the three of them she had the most direct involvement.
With an effort he concentrated on what Tomlinson had said.
"It's always been true," Mel declared, "that in aviation, progress in the air has been ahead of progress on the ground. We sometimes think we'll catch up; in the mid-1960s we almost did but by and large we never do. The best we can manage, it seems, is not to lag too far behind."
The reporter persisted, "What should we do about airports? What can we do?"
"We can think more freely, with more imagination, for one thing. We should get rid of the railway station mind."
"You believe we still have it?"
Mel nodded. "Unfortunately, in a good many places. All our early airports were imitation railway stations because designers had to draw on experience from somewhere, and railroad experience was all they had. Aftetward, the habit remained. It's the reason, nowadays, we have so many 'straight line' airports, where terminals stretch on and on, and passengers must walk for miles."
Tomlinson asked, "Isn't some of that changing?"
"Slowly, and in just a few places." As always, despite the pressures of the moment, Mel was warming to his theme. "A few airports are being built as circles---like doughnuts with car parking inside, instead of somewhere out beyond; with minimum distances for people to walk with aids like high-speed horizontal elevators; with airplanes brought close to passengers instead of the other way around. What it means is that airports are finally being thought of as special and distinct; also as units instead of separate components. Creative ideas, even outlandish ones, are being listened to. Los Angeles is proposing a big, offshore seadrome; Chicago, a man-made airport island in Lake Michigan; nobody's scoffing. American Airlines has a plan for a giant hydraulic lift to stack airplanes one above the other for loading and unloading. But the changes are slow, they're not coordinated; we build airports like an unimaginative, patchwork quilt. It's as if phone subscribers designed and made their own telephones, then plugged them into a world-wide system."
The radio cut abruptly across Mel's words. "Ground control to mobile one and city twenty-five. Chicago Center now estimates hand-off of the flight in question to Lincoln approach control will be 0117."
Mel's watch showed 1:06 A.m. The message meant that Flight Two was already a minute earlier than the tower chief had forecast. A minute less for Joe Patroni to work; only eleven minutes to Mel's own decision.
"Mobile one, is there any change in the status of runway three zero?"
"Negative; no change."
Mel wondered: was he cutting things too fine? He was tempted to direct the snowplows and graders to move now, then restrained himself. Responsibility was a two-way street, especially when it came to ordering the near-destruction of a six-million dollar aircraft on the ground. There was still a chance that Joe Patroni might make it, though with every second the possibility was lessening. In front of the stalled 707, Mel could see, some of the floodlights and other equipment were being moved clear. But the aircraft's engines had not yet been started.
"Those creative people," Tomlinson queried, "the ones you were talking about. Who are they?"
With only half his mind, Mel acknowledged, "It's hard to make a list."
He was watching the scene outside. The remainder of the vehicles and equipment in front of the stalled Aereo-Mexican 707 had now been moved clear, and Joe Patroni's stocky, snow-covered figure was climbing the boarding ramp, positioned near the aircraft's nose. Near the top, Patroni stopped, turned, and gestured; he appeared to be shouting to others below. Now Patroni opened the front fuselage door and went inside; almost at once another, slighter figure climbed the ramp and followed him. The aircraft door slammed. Others below trundled the ramp away.
Inside the car, the reporter asked again, "Mr. Bakersfeld, could you name a few of those people---the most imaginative ones about airports and the future?"
"Yes," Tanya said, "couldn't you?"
Mel thought: it would be like a parlor game while the house was burning. All right, he decided if Tanya wanted him to, he would play.
"I can think of some," Mel said. "Fox of Los Angeles; Joseph Foster of Houston, now with ATA of America. Alan Boyd in government; and Thomas Sullivan, Port of New York Authority. In the airlines: Halaby of Pan Am; Herb Godfrey of United. In Canada, John C. Parkin, In Europe---Pierre Cot of Air France; Count Castell in Germany. There are others."
"Including Mel Bakersfeld," Tanya injected. "Aren't you forgetting him?"
Tomlinson, who had been making notes, grunted. "I already put him down. It goes without saying."
Mel smiled. But did it, he wondered, go without saying? Once, not long ago, the statement would have been true; but he knew that on the national scene he had slipped from view. When that happened, when you left the mainstream for whatever reason, you were apt to be forgotten quickly; and later, even if you wanted to, sometimes you never did get back. It was not that he was doing a less important job at Lincoln International, or doing it less well; as an airport general manager, Mel knew he was as good as ever, probably better. But the big contribution which he had once seemed likely to make no longer was in view. He realized that this was the second time tonight the same thought had occurred to him. Did it matter? Did he care? He decided; Yes, he did!
"Look!" Tanya cried out. "They're starting the engines."
The reporter's head came up; Mel felt his own excitement sharpen.
Behind number three engine of the Aereo-Mexican 707, a puff of white-gray smoke appeared. Briefly it intensified, then whirled away as the engine fired and held. Now snow was streaming rearward in the jet blast.
A second puff of smoke appeared behind number four engine, a moment later to be whisked away, snow following.
"Ground control to mobile one and city twenty-five." Within the car the radio voice was so unexpected that Mel felt Tanya give a startled jump beside him. "Chicago Center advises revised handoff time of the flight in question will be... 0116 seven minutes from now."
Flight Two, Mel realized, was still coming in faster than expected. It meant they had lost another minute.
Again Mel held his watch near the light of the dash.
On the soft ground near the opposite side of the runway from their car, Patroni now had number two engine started. Number one followed. Mel said softly, "They could still make it." Then he remembered that all engines had been started twice before tonight, and both attempts to blast the stuck airplane free had failed.
In front of the mired 707 a solitary figure with flashlight signal wands had moved out ahead to where he could be seen from the aircraft flight deck. The man with the wands was holding them above his head, indicating "all clear." Mel could hear and feel the jet engines' thrum, but sensed they had not yet been advanced in power.
Six minutes left. Why hadn't Patroni opened up?
Tanya said tensely, "I don't think I can bear the waiting."
The reporter shifted in his seat. "I'm sweating too."
Joe Patroni was opening up! This was it! Mel could hear and feel the greater all-encom passing roar of engines. Behind the stalled Aereo-Mexican jet, great gusts of snow were blowing wildly into the darkness beyond the runway lights.
"Mobile one," the radio demanded sharply, "this is ground control. Is there any change in status of runway three zero?"
Patroni, Mel calculated by his watch, had three minutes left.
"The airplane's still stuck." Tanya was peering intently through the car windshield. "They're using all the engines, but it isn't moving."
It was straining forward, though; that much Mel could see, even through the blowing snow. But Tanya was right. The aircraft wasn't moving.
The snowplows and heavy graders had shifted closer together, their beacons flashing brightly.
"Hold it!" Mel said on radio. "Hold it! Don't commit that flight coming in to runway two five. One way or the other, there'll be a change in three zero status any moment now."
He switched the car radio to Snow Desk frequency, ready to activate the plows.