When I was in High School, that summer I had a job at the airport installing runway lights; threading pipe and pulling wire.
The company had an old line truck with a A-frame boom and a manual winch. Two rows of bench seats. They asked me if I could drive it since they used it every morning to unload pipe out on the runway and run the crew of other kids out there and back and no one else going out could drive standard. Well, I’d driven a three speed stick a couple of times so I said yes. That was how I was introduced to the five speed truck transmission. Well, fortunately the airport was fairly flat and there wasn’t any other traffic (not much at least). So I drove everyone out to the far end of the runways every morning and back every afternoon.
Then came the morning (we started at 5AM) the fog came in off Boston Harbor real thick, I could hardly see the perimeter road and crawled along slowly. I had forgotten to lower the A-Boom, so I could hear the steel cable and hook slapping against the boom as we bounced along. Didn’t worry about it, I didn’t see why we took it down each time we moved the truck anyway.
Somehow I missed the stop line that marked the edge of the runway; we were supposed to stop and check for incoming flights before crossing the runway.
Suddenly the truck was strongly illuminated by the dazzling glare of the landing lights of an incoming airliner.
I have never since been as close to the business end of a jet engine and turbulence was increasing by the second.
I jammed the gear shift down into a lower gear and stomped on the gas. I suddenly knew why we lowered the boom when in motion. The truck scooted out from in front of the jet with little to spare. The truck rocked back and forth and woke up the dozing crew. “What happened?” a guy asked.
“Jet landed behind us”, I said.
Have I driven standard? Hell! I went fishing with one!