I will use GUARD, they will be listening in case one of them is shot down. I use the call sign given me by the American A-10 squadron.
“Allied aircraft, allied aircraft, this is Snowbird! This is Snowbird in Syrian aircraft! I am friendly, I am Russian! Hold fire!”
“Lead! It is Sacha! Sacha lives!”
Vasily lets out an ear-splitting whoop even I can hear without the radio.
“Snowbird, Enfield 1-1. Climb to 2000 and set course 000. We will monitor your ascent; please do not deviate.”
I know those clipped tones. They are Canadian CF-18 fighters, from Gudauta. I rocket off the runway and pull up gear, and see the CF-18s settling onto my wings as I stabilize at the required altitude. I wave at them. My friends, my friends! I am so happy to see you!
And the Americans… they are not done yet.
In my mirrors, I can see another flash.
“Snowbird, Colt 1-1. A little present for you.”
Vasily is laughing.
“Quiet, Vasily. Snowbird, this is 788. Welcome home, young falcon.”
My eyes fill with tears. My friends, they have come for me! I am safe as a babe in its mother’s arms now with them, these Americans, Canadians, Vasily and my Commander. I am going home! I set BO3B return mode and lock onto the Sochi beacon.