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Plane Trip Back To LA - Behind The Wheel

Greg Emmerson
Oct 23, 2009

Waterfest 15 and Kreuzerfest was a blast this year. With everything that's going on in the country, and what the economy is doing to our job prospects, we'd been on a downer. But there's nothing better than a weekend in Jersey to revitalize us.

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The best part was meeting fellow enthusiasts. With the haters abandoning Waterfest in favor of H20i, the atmosphere seemed lighter, happier. Or maybe we were all just happy to forget about our empty bank balances for a weekend. Whatever it was, I was glad to be part of it.

Maybe it was the warm, fuzzy glow inside, but every car I saw was a stunner. With one or two scary exceptions, it seems we all now know how to get a GTI to sit right on the right set of wheels - BBS RS in most cases, and who can fault that?

I was snapping photos of almost every car I saw. In fact, we had so many chosen for the show review we increased the page count several times. In the end, we had to cut our selection, but there were more of you that deserved recognition.

Even Kreuzerfest was one of the best I've been part of. Everybody arrived on time and enjoyed breakfast at VW's HQ, then drove together to the show. I don't think anybody was pulled over, there were no breakdowns and none of the usual lunacy that attracts cops to multi-car caravans.

It was with a cheery disposition I boarded our plane back to LA. A series of storms in the middle of the country meant we encountered turbulence most of the way, but nothing could dampen my mood.

Actually, one thing managed to dampen my mood...

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As the plane climbed to 40,000ft to avoid some of the turbulence, I saw a flash out of the window. It was followed by a loud thud and the plane shuddered. Turbulence, no problem. It happened again about 30sec later. Lightning, nothing unusual. Then it happened again.

I'll admit, it had my attention, so when it happened a third time I realized this wasn't lightning and the flash was yellow not white.

The fourth and fifth time it happened I saw a yellow glow illuminating the fuselage under the wing. Oh God, I don't want to die this way!

Then suddenly it stopped. The turbulence went away. I settled back into my seat, but was interrupted by the pilot who decided we'd land in Tulsa "just to make sure". That's when I knew it was real. And the fire engines on the taxiways, and the pilot coming back after landing to ask who'd seen the flames...

I vowed I wouldn't take anything for granted, live each day like it's special, cherish the ones I love.

Sadly, I didn't reach out to one of the closest friends I've ever had, Clinton Smith. He died, aged 49, in an instant. Lay down and never got up. He shot photos for this mag; you may have seen them. He loved to shoot pics, ride his motorbike, be with his son. It was an honor to share his humor, his wisdom and his life. I miss him. God bless.
Greg Emmerson, Editor

By Greg Emmerson
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