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Day That Pilots from Coca-Cola and the Navy's Blue Angels Saved A Little
Girl's Life -Fiction!
Summary of the eRumor In
1986, a little girl named Crystal Grant in Memphis, Tennessee needed a
liver transplant. Her family got word that a liver had become
available and that she would have to be flown to Houston, Texas for
the procedure. Arrangements were made for a Coast Guard plane
from Elisabeth City, North Carolina to pick her up, but the plane blew
a couple of tires on takeoff and was damaged when it ran off the
runway into a fence. Two of those who saw the Coast Guard
accident and heard the story of the intended flight were the pilots of
a Coca-Cola corporate jet that had just arrived in Elisabeth City
carrying the CEO of Coca-Cola. They briefed the CEO on what was
going on and he went to the Coast Guard station and offered his jet to
fly the little Crystal to Houston.
Meanwhile, the liver intended for the Crystal was in San Diego,
California. An airplane that was to fly the liver to Houston
developed pressurization problems. When that news reached
Elisabeth City, the Coca-Cola CEO asked his pilots whether they could
also make a trip to San Diego to pick up the liver, but was told that
would take longer than the amount of time that was left go get the
transplant done. The CEO then got on the phone to, among other
people, the governor of California. The result was that Navy Lt.
Tony Less of the Navy's famous Blue Angels precision flying team took
off for Houston in "Blue Angel #8," a brand new F-18 fighter
jet, with the liver container safely strapped in the rear seat.
While all this was going on, the media in Houston began working on the
story. Crystal was asked by a reporter whether she was
scared. She replied,
is creative writing on somebody's part. According to Coca-Cola,
the Corporate Angel Network, and the Blue Angels, none of it is true.
It's an interesting eRumor in that it departs from the typical eRumor pattern of lacking specific details. The details are fabricated,
however, and this story is a good example of the fact that even rumors
with details can sometimes turn out to be fiction.
The Corporate Angel Network Does exist. It consists of
corporations across the country who allow empty seats on corporate
aircraft to be used by cancer patients who need transportation.
A spokesperson for the Corporate Angel Network told
TruthOrFiction.com, however, that this story about a little girl from
North Carolina and involving the CEO of Coca-Cola and the Blue Angels
is not true and is not the way the effort got started.
Coca-Cola told TruthOrFiction.com that they've begun getting inquiries
about the eRumor, but that it is not true.
A spokesperson for the Blue Angels told TruthOrFiction.com that there
is no such story in their history, no "Angel Silhouette" on
Blue Angels #8, no Crystal Grant that the Blue Angels visit each year
or have as the guest of honor as their performances, and that he does
not know where the story originated.
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
Subject: What the Blue Angels did on a mercy mission
On November 1, 1986 a corporate jet owned by Coca-Cola arrived at Elizabeth City North Carolina carrying the CEO and Acting-President of the Woodruff Foundation and several members of the board of directors. Shortly after they had left the airport for a meeting in town a series of events began to unfold which drove one man to create what we know today as Corporate Angel Network or "Angel Flight".
A Coast Guard Falcon 20 was beginning its takeoff roll at Elisabeth City when it blew both front tires causing the jet to veer off the runway and run into a fence line. The jet was headed to Memphis TN to pickup a little girl by the name of Crystal Grant and carry her to Good Samaritans Children's Hospital in Houston TX to undergo a liver transplant. The pilots of the Coca-Cola plane watched the events and slowly began to hear the stories about the jet's mercy mission. After a few
hours the CEO and his passengers returned to the airport and witnessed the scene and asked the pilots what was going on. Once the CEO had learned of the situation he asked to be take to the Coast Guard Station so he could speak with the Station Commander, once there he asked him if their was anything he could offer or do. The Commander said in a frustrated voice, "Yea, can you make miracles happen. We need a jet and we need one fast." The CEO just smiled and said you've got one and pointed to his company jet.
Within two hours the Coca-Cola jet was on it's way to Memphis and the situation seemed under control. But unbeknownst to them a similar scene was playing out in San Diego where the donor organ was being prepared for transport to Houston. The aircraft lined up to take it to Houston had lost its ability to
pressurize its cabin and a similar scramble was under way to find a replacement.
Calls went out and everyone made excuses from corporate CEO's to airlines managers as to why they just couldn't help out. Once word made its way to Elisabeth City the situation was reaching its last window of opportunity for the Surgeons and time was now becoming an enemy. Again the CEO of Coca-Cola was called upon to help out and he jumped on the phone with his pilots now in Houston, they told him there was just no way they could go and retrieve the organ and return to Houston in time for the operation to take place.
The CEO began to think and ponder what would be speedy enough to retrieve it in time. A call was placed to the Governor of Georgia and he then placed a call
to the Governor of California requesting help. On that day sitting on the ramp at NAS Miramar were 6 brand new F/A-18A's and 2 F/A-18B's (two-seaters) wearing the colors of the Blue Angels as the team prepared to debut them to the world on November 6. It only took 4 phone calls to reach the Base Commander and 2 more to reach the Commander of the "Blues". 1:55 minutes later Navy Lt. Tony Less, in Blue Angel # 8 was gear up eastbound with his precious cargo strapped into the rear Martin Baker ejection seat, held in place by four dress belts.
Unbeknownst to the family or anyone in Houston all of this was unfolding, the local media had interviewed the little girl moments before she was placed into the prepping room for her surgery. A reporter asked her if she was scared, she responded, "No I'm not worried, my mommy told me that my Angel will watch over me".
It was an ironic statement indeed. At that moment Blue Angel #8 was coming off an ANG tanker over Western New Mexico and making a mad dash for Houston. The clock was still ticking and with each movement of the hand went further against the Surgeons.
With only 90 minutes to spare Angel #8 turned final to Houston Hobby's Rwy 4L and rolled out to a stop, surrounded by police cars and an ambulance to rush the organ to the hospital.
To sum up this story the transplant was successful and Crystal returned home to Memphis in time for Thanksgiving, the CEO of Coca-Cola lobbied the Fortune 100 companies to create Corporate Angel Network, the name inspired by the Blue Angels. To this day Blue Angel #8 wears a small silhouette of an Angel praying on the canopy rail and the name "Crystal" written underneath.
A little over a month after the surgery the "Blues" made a planned detour to Memphis to say hi to a little girl named Crystal. And it was on that day December 18, 1986 that Crystal met her Angel, the Angel who saved her life. That was fourteen years ago. Today Crystal is 24 and every year she is personally invited to attend a show near her home in Memphis as the guest of honor to the Blue Angels.
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