top of page
Screen Shot 2023-02-23 at 12.52.04 PM.png

We were finally cleared to 51,000 and the flight down to Miami was smooth and uneventful. On landing we taxied to Fontainebleau Aviation on Miami's Opa Locka Executive Airport. As Mandy opened the door, the balmy coastal air spilled in and it was plenty welcome. Anja and her two girlfriends, Faye and Jacqui were waiting on the ramp. But as Edwin looked through the widow, there was a fourth. He wasn't female and he wasn't on the guest list! 

Ed came down the airstair and greeted his daughter with a warm hug and kiss. He saw her often enough but she was his only child meaning he never passed on a chances to spend time with her. He hugged the two girls also, her besties. He'd known them both since Anja's freshman year at Vassar College. But then there was the guy lurking in back with a smarmy grin on his face as if he was the lost third girlfriend. He was wearing leather pants, a pair of dark shades and a Wu-Tang t-shirt. 

Anja grabbed his hand and pulled him forward.


"Daddy, this is Tray. . . Tray Miles."


She weaved her arm through his and leaned her head against his sweat stained shoulder. Daddy remained expressionless as the young man removed his glasses and extended his hand.

"Nice to meet you sir. Your daughter never stops talking about you"

"That's funny" said Edward. "She's never mentioned you once."

"Daddy!! Be nice."

Edward reluctantly shook the boy's hand.  "So, nice of you to come see the girls off Tray."

Daddyyyyy, he's coming with us. He's my plus three.

"Your plus three?"

"Well yea . . . and my boyfriend. My new boyfriend."

"Oh, why didn't you say so. Well, as my daughter's very new apparently boyfriend, make yourself useful Mr. Miles. Don't let these girls fumble with their bags. Get them aboard."

Mandy quickly interceded. "No worries, I can take care of that Mr. Frederick.".


"Nope, no! Our unexpected young guest here is clearly anxious to help, aren't you Mr. Miles?"


"Absolutely. Yes sir." Miles replied as he carefully collected eight bags like a Sherpa and waited for the rest to board.

After the fuel was topped off, we received clearance to taxi out and were wheels up in less than fifteen minutes. The boss, for all his good nature and tolerances, had one intolerance. He didn't like surprises and that went double where his daughter was concerned. I had known Anja for about as long as I had known her father. She was sweet, kind and engaging. So it wasn't unusual when she came forward to say hello once we got to altitude. But as it turned out, it was way more of a conversation than I'd expected and would require way more to think about than merely setting the auto-pilot and monitoring headings.


Meanwhile, it afforded an opportunity for Tray to try and make a better second impression on her father. The boss on the other hand, regarded it as no such opportunity. 

"So Mr. Frederick, are these candies or coffee beans?" asked Tray referring to the candy bowl on the credenza.

"I don't know. Why do't you try one and see." 

"That's ok. Not much of a coffee person. I was just wondering."


"Right." said the boss. "So what is it you do Tray?"


"I'm a pastry chef sir. . . and a musician."


"Of course you are." There was a long pause.

"Nice plane. It's a Gulfstream, right?" asked Tray as a hopeful restart.

"That's right. Do you know what paid for it?"

"No sir."

"Coffee drinkers." said the boss staring steely-eyed back at him.

Mandy came forward to the flight deck to find Anja.

"Ahh, Miss Frederick, I'm sorry to bother you ma'm but I think you should come back before your dad completely shreds your boyfriend."

"Oh shit, is it that bad?"

"It's . . . gettin' pretty brutal."

By the time Anja returned to the cabin, new beau had moved across the aisle from the boss - just enough distance to exclude him from further conversation, but facing him. As it was turning out, young Tray had his own tolerance threshold. He removed a Tito's Vodka mini from his backpack, unscrewed the cap and downed most of it. The boss was getting more pissed by the minute and there was four hours of flight still left. And watching his daughter fawn over the asshole was pushing his patience even further. His mind drifted to thoughts of asking me to get low and slow over the water and pushing him out. But since murdering his daughters boyfriend 30 minutes into the flight might have a negative affect on the trip, he opted instead to retreat to the aft cabin. He shut the door behind him, the whole act pissing him off even more . . . the thought that this dipshit, sweat stained punkass had caused him to seek privacy in his own f---king aircraft!


But if the vibe in the cabin was already weird, it was about to get a lot weirder.

About twenty minutes passed when the boss called me back to have a late 'private' breakfast with him. He wanted to discuss the practicality of building our own hangar in Portland versus continuing to lease the current dilapidated one. But before I could even get the butter on my toast Mandy showed up saying my first officer needed me on the flight deck.

I excused myself and went forward.

“What's up Mark?”
“Not sure Jack but the autopilot keeps re-trimming to keep us at 460.”

I immediately looked at our airspeed and it was constant but I could see from the computer that the autopilot had also been adjusting the throttles to accommodate the increased nose up attitude.

If our angle of attack continued to increase then we would get stall warnings and we were slowly approaching that now. I crawled back into my seat and took the controls. I then asked Mark to disable the autopilot. As soon as he did I held the throttles steady and almost immediately began to observe we were losing airspeed.

It was a serious situation, made worse by the fact that the Gulfstream is a T-Tail aircraft; all of which are prone to deep stall – a condition that renders the tail surfaces ineffective
quicker than other aircraft.


I pushed the joystick forward which lessened our angle of attack and kept us out of stall range but whatever was causing the issue wasn’t going away and it sure wasn’t going to allow the continuation of our flight plan. I called Mandy up, told her briefly what our problem was and asked her to go back and tell the boss we were going to have to make an emergency landing.  “Remove the breakfast and tell him to strap in . . . you do the same across from him and get the girls squared away. Do you understand?” She looked frightened but maintained her usual composed professionalism . She closed the cockpit door behind her.


I had to keep us in a nose down attitude to keep the stall condition at bay – basically exchanging altitude for airspeed. And whatever it was, was continuing to counter-load my actions. I tried right rudder and put us in a gentle turn to the left – which made the effect worse. I tried banking to the left instead and for whatever reason, it eased the loading.


But no matter what, we had to get on the ground and controlling our rate of descent was going to be difficult. Normal descent rate is 3:1 (three miles of travel per 1000 ft. of descent) but in order to maintain our airspeed, our descent rate was almost 2.5 times that. That sharply limited our options on places to land. And finding an airport was only part of the problem. There was a good chance we would not be able flare the aircraft as we would in a normal approach – but instead would need to execute a power-on landing. And that meant we needed a long runway.


I checked the GPS. We were 245 miles south-southwest of Key West, over open water.  There was enough to tell us the problem wasn't going to sort itself out. We needed to put down and there was really only two good options. Turn around and try to make it back to Miami or continue on to Nassau, Bhamas. Nassau had an 11,000 ft. runway but was also full of commercial traffic; plus it was almost 30 miles further downrange from where we needed at our present descent rate. There were two other options that better suited our trajectory but both had marginal runway lengths and both were uncontrolled airports – which meant there would be no emergency services if we ran into trouble on landing. Whatever decision we made, it had to be fast. I looked at Mark and almost simultaneously we both said Opalaka. “Make the call,” I said.

“Opa-Locka this is Gulfstream Echo Foxtrot two-niner zero, we have an emergency.”

Echo Foxtrot, this is Opa-Locka ATC, state your emergency.”


“We have a malfunctioning control surface. We're unable to maintain level flight or climb. We need a landing solution that will require a direct approach on your 33 Left.”


“Copy, Gulfstream, what is your current position?”


“We are 237 miles south-south-east and passing through Flight Level 310. We have limited ability to control our rate of descent.”


“Copy, Gulfstream, we have you. Stand by.”




“Gulfstream we have fairly heavy commuter traffic this morning. We will need to clear a path. What is your current rate of descent?”

“We're currently descending 300 ft. per minute, ETA approximately 12 minutes but our trajectory will put us shy of you by 28 miles... 

Our plan is to level off if possible in short durations to gain the extra distance.”

“Copy that, Gulfstream….what is your fuel load?”


“We’re heavy…currently showing 39,120 lbs.”


“Are you planning to dump fuel, Gulfstream?”


“Affirmative, Opa-Locka.”


“Copy Gulfstream, suggest doing that sooner than later.”


“Copy Opa.”


By lightening our load we could likely decrease our rate of descent and gain some of that 28 extra miles – plus reducing the risk of a fire or explosion (God forbid) if things didn’t play out as planned. My heart was racing. In my 23 years of operating turbine aircraft, I hadn’t encountered anything like this outside the simulator. But that’s what they’re for and I hoped all that training would pay off in the next few minutes. We had ONE shot at this.


The intercom chimed: “Jack, what the hell’s going on? You’re making us a little nervous back here.”



“Mr. Frederick we have a malfunctioning tail surface that is forcing us to land and it’s going to be tricky. Please let us focus up here...we’ll be on the ground in a few minutes.”


The only way we could control our rate of descent at this point was by pulling the nose up just long enough to gain some distance but without losing too much airspeed and getting us into a stall condition. The maneuvers had to be staged. We initiated our fuel dump over water getting rid of everything but 3000 lbs. I could feel the aircraft reacting. Both tactics were paying off. Mark and I were both gaining confident we could make 33 Left but entering a normal pattern was out of the question…we had to go straight in.


“Gulfstream this is Opa Locka….we have you cleared for direct ILS approach on 33 Left. How are you looking?”


“I think we’ve got the extra distance made Boston, but I just hope we have enough runway. We’re concerned about getting her on the ground. We calculate 160 knots at touchdown – power on.”


“You’ll be fine Gulfstream, you have 26 knots on the nose and 10,000 feet of roll out.”


Another tactic I planned to employ was “slipping” the aircraft on final approach. Slipping (or yawing) refers to adding left or right rudder to place the aircraft at angle to the runway. It’s a method of slowing the aircraft without increasing the nose up attitude. I was pretty confident we could do this but it was the one-shot thing that bothered me. If anything went wrong on approach or landing, our situation would not allow a stable climb out or go around. We were committed and that was that.


By now we were only six miles out and descending at more than twice the normal approach rate – not to mention our speed, which was 170 knots.


“Gulfstream, we have emergency equipment standing by.”


“Copy Opa…thank you.”


The altimeter was reeling and it was very unusual to see the ground coming up this fast. We had 33 Left in sight. Visibility was good.


I knew the boss was shitting a brick but I fought to keep that thought from invading my focus.


“Gear down.”


“Gear down.”


At 300ft I called for 30% flaps and began to slip the aircraft without changing our slight nose down attitude. Both tactics were slowing our ground-speed but I had to have our nose up before we touched down. At 100ft I began pulling back on the stick slightly. At 50ft we were almost level but the nose was trying to pitch up and we were still too fast. I straightened the aircraft up at this point which only made us faster. At 30 feet I raised the nose just high enough to allow the main gear to touch down first.


Ground effect was holding us off and we were using up runway fast. I cut our power to idle and we touched down hard. It felt like all three gears touched at once. I applied full brake and reverse thrusters.


As it turns out, we came to a stop with almost 1500 ft. of runway left but my ass was still puckered like a state fair pickle.

526835e369bedd0469473ee9 copy.tiff

“Congratulations Gulfstream….well done! Do you need emergency assist?”

“Thanks Opa Locka, we're good. Thanks for clearing a path!”

We taxied the aircraft to Fontainebleau and while Mark was powering us down, I unbelted and went aft to the main cabin to check on the girls. They were still a little white-knuckled but managed a little round of applause for our ability to get us safely down. I looked down at Tray, slumped in his seat. "You ok mate?" He looked up at me but couldn't respond. I continued to the aft cabin to find Mandy and the boss, both white as sheets but otherwise looking grateful.


“Jack does this mean we’re not having breakfast?”


I smiled. “No, actually I’m famished and didn’t even get my toast buttered. Mandy, will you set some places and I don't know about the rest of you, but I think I'll skip the coffee. ”


I told Mark to leave the APU running and while prudence dictated otherwise, we all sat and had breakfast on the aircraft. In a way, a kind of homage I suppose to the 650's own role in getting us back safely. Mark and I did our best to recount the events and explain what had happened. By the time our respective chorizo burittos were consumed, we had all begun to breath normally again. The boss called Many over and whispered to her. She went forward and returned, laying three Grey Goose minis in front of Tray.

"I'm sorry we didn't have Tito's Mr. Miles."

All eight of us erupted in laughter and it went on for a half-hour it seemed - gradually purging every ounce of remaining nervousness and muscle tension from each of us. It was just the right bit of well placed levity - at just the right moment.


The next day, Fontainebleau's mechanics determined that a small piece of corroded iron which presumably delaminated from the ceiling structure of the old Portland Hangar, and had fallen, lodging itself in the space that separated the horizontal stabilizer from the elevator control surface. The otherwise benign iron flake had expanded into galvanic corrosion on contact with the moist salty air on climb out - effectively causing it to harden and bond with the aircraft’s metal surfaces. At altitude, the sub-zero temperatures exacerbated the condition and eventually restricted the full range of upward motion for the control surface and almost caused a disaster.




It was fairly common for the boss to give me what he called a “sampler” of this coffee or that. It was usually a 2lb cotton bag with the growers stamp on it and a wooden date coin attached to its drawstring.


By now we had made three trips to Puerto Natales and two trips to multiple destinations across Europe. The Boss had succeeded in establishing the biggest coffee import distributorship in Europe – besides Starbucks. If he hadn’t been rich enough, he certainly was now.


We had just returned to Portland and as I was going to meet my wife who had driven up to get me, the boss asked me to come into the operations office of our NEW hangar.

“Jack I know I’ve given you more coffee than you and Kate could ever drink but this one I think you’ll really like. I suggest you open it right away and try it.” 


“Thanks Boss.  We will do for sure.”


The next morning, I told Kate about the new sampler and she just rolled her eyes.


“Really Jack?  I mean, I love coffee but I can’t even hardly tell the difference anymore.”


For almost three weeks, the sampler sat in our mudroom along with several other unopened bags. But for whatever reason, one Sunday morning, I pulled it out and ripped off the rope seal. I went to scoop out a cup for the grinder and discovered an envelope with “Jack and Kate” hand-scripted on the front. I opened it.


Inside was a handwritten note.




You know how people often say, ”I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you?”  Well I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, literally! You saved my life. Hell you saved all our lives back in Florida that morning Jack. You’re a good man and I value both your service to me, and your friendship.


I hope this will in part acknowledge my debt to you.




With the note was a securities certificate in mine and Kate’s name for 50,000 shares of JOLT EU, the independent venture he had formed for the new distributorship. The shares had opened at $ 6.00 but since then had split twice and were now trading at $ 28.00.


The certificate in total was worth $1,400,000 and some change!

We ground up some of the beans and brewed it up. We still agree, it was somehow the best cup'a Joe we’d ever sipped!


I know, I know, you're wondering what happened to Wu-Tang Deadbeat Dipstick. Well, Anja married him. Two years later they gave Edwin his first granddaughter. As for the boss and Tray, they get on fine today, despite Tray's continued dislike of coffee. They all share summer holidays together each June - and birthdays are rarely missed.

Tray owns two successful restaurants in Coral Gables. In both establishments, his patrons are offered but one coffee option - JOLT's revered Monteverde Russet from the original family bean
. As of this writing, Anja is a stay-at-home mom working on Grand baby #2. The boss still refers to his coffee toned G-650 as the one prized indulgence of his wealth.
Screen Shot 2023-02-24 at 2.49.10 PM.png
From now on, Cabin Culture will be a periodic feature of JCF Magazine. All Cabin Culture stories are based on actual recounted events from real flights by the pilots and/or flight attendants that crewed them. 

In almost all cases, the true identity of the actual people involved are kept anonymous. Similarly certain details and venues are fictionalized in order to protect the privacy and careers of the parties involved.

Screen Shot 2023-02-24 at 3.20.32 PM.png
bottom of page