123RF Stock Photo/schrades
Floating hundreds of feet above the town, a small, reddish-white light burned fiercely in the sky, swinging gently in the breeze and drifting slowly to the south-east. The time was almost 9:30 pm. If anyone was outside watching, the floating, swaying flare would have been a strange sight.
Without warning, the night sky filled with a brilliant, bright-white flash. Light flooded the sky for less than a second, and then was gone—taking the small reddish light with it. For several seconds, only silence and the deep black of the cloudless sky remained. Suddenly a roaring rumble blasted across the town, followed immediately by a shock wave that rattled windows and socked you in the chest as it passed.
Faces peered out of windows and open doors. Was this lightning and thunder heralding a storm? Those rushing onto their porches, found only a totally clear sky.
123RF Stock Photo/eteimaging
After hours of careful work we drove to the Trona Cemetery behind the chemical plant and launched our creation into the night sky. We knew we had only five or ten minutes to reach the football field before the big display. The results exceeded our expectations.
The next day others asked, “Did you hear the explosion last night?” “What happened at the plant?” As was our practice, we said nothing, only shrugged and smiled. Though often accused we were never convicted.
Although I would never encourage others to attempt this prank, I admit growing up in the Mojave Desert provided unique educational opportunities.