The date of Oct. 15 is not to be forgotten by a Davenport couple.
On the night of Oct. 15, 2003, the plane that commercial pilot Jim Meurs was flying crashed landed in a Scott County cornfield.
And on Oct. 15, 2005, exactly two years later, Jim married Becky Mallory.
“One thing is for sure, I won’t ever forget the date of my marriage,” said Jim, several days before their 12th wedding anniversary.
Oct. 15 for the two events is fortuitous. “I could have been killed on Oct. 15,” says Meurs. “On that same Oct. 15 date, I began a new life when I married Becky."
THE CRASH that Jim walked away from could have been deadly. Jim was flying a courier service, carrying heavy sacks of canceled checks from Iowa banks in Ankeny, Cedar Rapids and Davenport to the Federal Reserve in Chicago. He made the nighttime flight two or three times a week, sometimes a dozen times a month. The $100 pay per trip was low, but he loved flying.
“At 5:30 on a rainy Oct. 15, 2003 , I was picking up a cargo of checks at Davenport Muny Airport for Chicago. All was well, heading up toward 5,000 feet, when the engine on my Bonanza went dead,” Jim says.
“I called the tower at Moline airport and a radar station. I was going down, with a full tank of gas, to crash somewhere. By the grace of God, in the dark, I missed every telephone pole, every power line. There was smoke in the cabin. Of all safe places, I blindly came down like a pancake in a Scott County cornfield. I must have taken out six rows of corn, skidded 60 feet.
“I climbed out fast; this is when a plane can get on fire. I slopped through the muddy cornfield toward the light of a farm house to get a telephone, but the residents didn’t want to be disturbed because they were watching a Cubs game."
Finally, they relented. Police and fire trucks came. Wreckers pulled the damaged plane from the corn. It took a lot of money to make the engine right and repair the plane, which is safely flying again. Jim says he received no compensation for his close call except the company bought him a new pair of shoes. And he took a week off before resuming his bank check courier route.
FAST FORWARD. His eye was caught at a Christmas party by a young blonde, Becky Mallory. She says, “He was the handsomest man I ever saw.”
It was her idea that they be married on Oct. 15.
For their 12th anniversary today, they may take a flight, with Jim at the controls.