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How to Turn a Work Van into a Helicopter

Updated on January 3, 2015

Just another day in the life of A Quintin Smith

I was headed 80 miles an hour down the freeway after work one day, trying to beat the rush hour traffic with a 32 foot extension ladder tethered on top of the van when all of a sudden one of the straps holding the ladder broke. The ladder began to spin like a top on a piece of glass. And the ladder began to extend to its full length. Just like that I was airborne in 2.9 seconds.

That van turned into an aircraft on the I-29. The ladder seemed to spin faster when all of a sudden it happened, the remaining strap, made out of rubber like a rubber band must have reached its maximum elasticity because the ladder stopped and started to turn the other way. Strange thing is the van began to spin too. I saw the oncoming traffic and then I saw the highway up ahead. This must have happened two or three times before the ground met the tires again. It was at that moment I realized that my foot had never left the accelerator. I was doing dang near 90 miles an hour in the right direction, now how did that happen? Then all of a sudden the ladder came down right in front of me, still tied to the van but now I was pushing it. I started to slow down and pull over when I hit the bump. The ladder went straight up in the air standing like the bean stalk from Jack's story reaching into the clouds.

Most freeways have their obstacles and this one is no exception. The overpass came up without warning slamming the ladder down onto the top of the van where it started out before the strap broke. Well this scared me and I thought it was all over when all of the sudden the ladder vaulted like a catapult back into the air headed for the sky. Those straps are pretty strong and durable but the remaining one had had enough and just let go.

The ladder flew maybe 50 or so feet before hitting the freeway and cartwheeling down the pavement like a drunken sailor on a mission to get to the next bar. It careened down the side of a hill and out of sight as I pulled to the side of the road. I stepped out of the van wondering how I had not hit another car or smacked one with the twirling orange ladder. I looked behind me and saw cars stopped everywhere, sideways, on the shoulder and even backwards.

I wondered if they all had the same ladder problem I had. There was a fire truck in the distance trying to pick his way through traffic and I could hear more sirens but couldn’t determine where they were coming from. I ran down the hill, slid the ladder back together, threw it back on the top of the van and got out some old straps securing it to the top of the van. The fire truck was all most near me as traffic slowly moved by me. I heard a few choice remarks from the passing vehicles and a couple of kids cheering at my daring freeway debacle.

I decided to get back on the road and take the next exit , I am sure that fire truck was going somewhere important and I didn't want to be in the way. Well that's my story of how I turned my work van into a helicopter. The first flight was probably just a little longer than the Wright brothers. But it got me to thinking how I could do it again. Maybe I could just strap the ladder on like airplane wings and put a propane bottle or two at the end of each one, well that will be the next story, enough for now.

More stories by A. Quintin Smith

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© 2014 AQuintinSmith

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      ccorrig 5 years ago

      Great story! I'm glad no one was hurt. Merry Christmas! Hopefully your holidays aren't quite that interesting...

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      anonymous 5 years ago


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      ladykida 6 years ago


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      Loraine Brummer 6 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Nice, entertaining story.