Captain Good looked unhurt, so McCollom beckoned him to join the other survivors. Good didn't seem to hear him, so McCollom started fighting through the smoldering undergrowth in his direction. Decker followed, not fully alert but instinctively wanting to help or to stay close to McCollom. Maybe both.
As they edged closer to Good, flames exploded from fuel tanks in the torn-off wings, which had remained close to the fuselage. When the flames subsided, McCollom rushed to Good. But it was too late - Good was dead. McCollom never learned whether he'd been killed by the explosion or from previous injuries suffered in the crash. When McCollom reached Good's body, he learned why the captain hadn't moved when McCollom first called: his foot was tangled in the roots of a tree.
There was nothing they could do for the Ohio husband, church leader, oil salesman, and World War I survivor. They left Good's body where it fell, hunched on the ground amid brush and branches a few feet from the wrecked plane, his head tilted awkwardly to one side. Good's right arm, bent at the elbow, reached downward toward the moist ground.
No one else emerged alive from the C-47 Gremlin Special, bound for Shangri-La on a Sunday-afternoon pleasure flight.
Excerpted from Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff. Copyright 2011 by Mitchell Zuckoff. Excerpted by permission of Harper, a division of HarperCollins, Inc. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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