Time to prepare for landing. Arvo slowed down the jet, tilted the 30 electric engines by 90 degrees, stopped cold in mid-air, and brought the jet down vertically, right in the middle of the “H” of the vertiport. 20 seconds from cruise flight to landing, in the middle of a tropic storm, and the passengers hadn’t felt a thing.
Seven unfamiliar faces got up and left the plane. Seven new faces hurried across the landing pad and tried to escape the gleaming heat. They were not his problem anymore.
For a full minute Arvo sat there without moving a muscle. Then he reluctantly let go of the joystick. That was it. His last day as a commercial pilot.
He sighed, grabbed his helmet with both hands and put it down on his wooden table, next to the cup of (now cold) coffee and the framed picture of his grandchildren. He stood up, collected socks, underwear, and a dirty t-shirt from the floor beneath his bed and went to the kitchen. As he left the bedroom, his eyes caught the frost on the window, the deep snow in his garden and beyond that, the ice of the Baltic Sea. Arvo thought nothing of it.
It was already late at night when Arvo’s hands picked up their train of thought. One was holding a knife, the other a piece of wood and while they worked on a nasty little knob that just wouldn’t give way, his brain was free to wander.
His first real job was as crane operator at the harbor of Rotterdam. He took the mandatory five-day course during the semester holidays and spent a lot of time practicing with the gigantic machines in the real world. It gave him a healthy respect for the enormous forces that came into play when a heavily loaded container swung across the arch from ship to truck. He also spent a hundred hours playing a realistic simulation on his home pc.
Working in a harbor was dangerous business, as he learned on his very first day. The harbor was simply overwhelming: Thousands of containers, dozens of cranes and hundreds of automated delivery trucks were dancing in perfect harmony.