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The Da Vinci Code (chapter 73)

2006-07-07 18:00

  CHAPTER 73

  Bourget Airfield's night shift air traffic controller had been dozing before a blank radar screen when the captain of the Judicial Police practically broke down his door.

  “Teabing's jet,” Bezu Fache blared, marching into the small tower, “where did it go?”

  The controller's initial response was a babbling, lame attempt to protect the privacy of their British client-one of the airfield's most respected customers. It failed miserably.

  “Okay,” Fache said, “I am placing you under arrest for permitting a private plane to take off without registering a flight plan.” Fache motioned to another officer, who approached with handcuffs, and the traffic controller felt a surge of terror. He thought of the newspaper articles debating whether the nation's police captain was a hero or a menace. That question had just been answered.

  “Wait!” the controller heard himself whimper at the sight of the handcuffs. “I can tell you this much. Sir Leigh Teabing makes frequent trips to London for medical treatments. He has a hangar at Biggin Hill Executive Airport in Kent. On the outskirts of London.”

  Fache waved off the man with the cuffs. “Is Biggin Hill his destination tonight?”

  “I don't know,” the controller said honestly. “The plane left on its usual tack, and his last radar contact suggested the United Kingdom. Biggin Hill is an extremely likely guess.”

  “Did he have others onboard?”

  “I swear, sir, there is no way for me to know that. Our clients can drive directly to their hangars, and load as they please. Who is onboard is the responsibility of the customs officials at the receiving airport.”

  Fache checked his watch and gazed out at the scattering of jets parked in front of the terminal. “If they're going to Biggin Hill, how long until they land?”

  The controller fumbled through his records. “It's a short flight. His plane could be on the ground by…… around six-thirty. Fifteen minutes from now.”

  Fache frowned and turned to one of his men. “Get a transport up here. I'm going to London. And get me the Kent local police. Not British MI5. I want this quiet. Kent local. Tell them I want Teabing's plane to be permitted to land. Then I want it surrounded on the tarmac. Nobody deplanes until I get there.”

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