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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unbearable Lightness of A Falling Tape Recorder

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Last week I told you how I "fell off" a plane. If you think that that was the end of my air adventures on that memorable business trip to Uzbekistan, you are deeply mistaken.

The An-12 cargo plane arrived in Tashkent around midnight, and I missed the flight to Moscow. The next flight was due to leave at noon the following day.

In the waiting area I saw a group of filmmakers — they were not difficult to recognize because of all the film equipment they were carrying. Among them was my nephew, sound engineer Volodya Mazurov. Glad to see each other so unexpectedly, we hugged. When I told Volodya I was late for my flight, he said: "You can fly with us in the morning. The studio chartered a Tu-134 just for our group. After one small stunt, the plane will fly straight to Moscow."

"What kind of stunt is it?" I wondered, certain that I had had enough stunts for one day.

"The plane will climb as high as possible and then dive, imitating an engine failure," he said. "That's what it says in the script."

"And will it crash? er, according to the script, I mean," I hastily added, making sure that Volodya would not suspect me of being a coward.

"At the last moment the pilot will take control and land the plane on a highway. But that scene will be shot another time. Give me your passport," my nephew said. "The pilot is an ace, a former test pilot. Don't worry, Uncle Vladik."

"I won't," I said, although I would have been more than happy to wait for another, scheduled flight.

My name was put on his list, and the plane took off all too soon.

An air force plane was already circling in the sky. From that plane a cameraman was supposed to film the dive of our Tu-134. Today, such stunts can be fabricated with computers, but only seven to eight years ago they were all performed with real planes.

After some time had passed, and I could tell that our plane was climbing sharply, the flight attendant carefully inspected our fastened seat belts.

"During the dive, there will be a state of weightlessness in the cabin," she warned.

I felt this weightlessness immediately. I had never had such a feeling of astonishing lightness. It felt like I was rising out of the seat. My nephew, who was sitting next to me, clutched my arm. Most likely, he too wanted to fly away. A heavy studio tape recorder weighing about 10 kilograms flew up like a feather to the cabin's ceiling as if it had been set free. Several seconds later, after the plane had pulled out of the dive, the tape recorder crashed down onto some of the passengers' laps, hitting me in the side.

Back in Moscow, Volodya's colleagues helped us go down the ramp and drove us home.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.