TheLandingI was running out of fuel 2,000 feet above the Florida Panhandle and needed to land soon. Anywhere.

I had taken off from San Diego, California, two weeks before for St. Mary’s, Georgia, in an effort to make the first U.S. transcontinental flight in an ultralite aircraft called a Sixshooter. A Sixshooter looks a bit like a go-cart suspended beneath a square parachute wing. Top airspeed is about 36mph with a range of less than 200 miles, even with the extra gas in the tank I jerry-rigged into the passenger’s seat.

Rain storms, high winds over the coastal mountains, searing heat across the desert, sharks below in Mobile Bay, a near collision with a flock of birds, a rough-running engine over Georgia swamps… and now a strong head wind since dawn that had cut my normal flight range by half.

I either landed soon for fuel—or I crashed in the dog fur-thick forests of Florida’s Panhandle. I couldn’t see a clear landing for miles in any direction, other than U.S. 10 which I had followed cross-country as my primary landmark.

Just what I needed, to land on a heavily-congested interstate, chance causing a traffic pileup if not an accident, and have to explain everything to the FAA and make 4,000 reports.

I radioed old friend Darrell Turner in my chase car to inform him.

“Emergency?” he asked.

“Pucker factor,” I replied.

Then I spotted a small clearing in the trees. It appeared to be a rock quarry with a short dirt road across one end.

My engine sputtered, choking out from low fuel.

I throttled down to glide and made a straight-in approach on the road. I glimpsed men running. Others stopped to stare as I touched down and rolled out.

As soon as I cut power and stopped, armed guards and several dozen laughing, gray-clad convicts surrounded me. I had landed in a prison work camp.

All I could do was grin. “Hey,” I quipped, “how many of you guys ever had to break into prison?”

“I can see a movie being made from this book—a cross between Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, and the search for the Holy Grail with humor sprinkled around like cinnamon on a sticky bun.” Reader Nancy Shoemaker (Pennsylvania) on Sanctuary, new SciFi by Charles W. Sasser. Now available in paperback from, and at book stores.