View Full Version : Glad I'm a pilot...

Marc Olson
06-18-2004, 11:57 PM
This is really just a musing about how being a pilot and plane owner opens up opportunities (and realities) that can create unique possibilities. Not really Cub related, except my mission was flown in my -12...

Some context. Six years ago my wife and I bought some land on an island in the San Juan Archipeligo in WA state. No ferries, utilities or services. One 1800' one-way grass airstrip. By AK or CAN standards, it's still civilization; we used a 23' Boston Whaler as our access method year 'round for 4 years. Two years ago my wife decided to spend summers at our place, so I began my flight training (a life-long goal). In '02 I earned my rating, in '03 I bought my -12 and just a week ago we started our '04 summer adventure with Jean and the boys leaving by boat for our place in the islands.

Yesterday while at work I received a call on my cell from my wife. One of our boys (fraternal twins, 8.5 years old) had fallen from a tree onto the beach. He couldn't move. What to do? Fortunately, she'd just taken a weekend wilderness first aid course, so she did all the right things. He could move all limbs, his head, vitals fine, good sensations. But, he hurt. Hard to tell if we should just let him shrug it off, or take him to the hospital, or have him medivaced off with some urgency. I headed for the airport, and called the nearby paramedics for consultation. Because I was 60 minutes away, they suggested flying over (10 minutes vs. my 60) to bring him to the local medical center.

By the time I arrived, they'd talked with Jean and had decided that Jake should go to the local trauma center in Bellingham. While it seemed clear that there was no spinal trauma, he wasn't able to sit up without extreme pain, and the normal cervical 'clear' turned up pain in his neck that they weren't willng to ignore.

I landed at our strip and saw the C-206 for the paramedics and my truck was gone, so help was at hand. When I got to our cabin, there was a helicopter on the bluff and my son was still on the beach, strapped into a backboard ready for transport. So, we carried him to the 'copter and got him on his way, and then my wife and his brother climbed into our trusty -12 to follow (albeit at a much slower pace...).

Everything turned out as we'd hoped--no spine or bone injury, just a very sore 8 year-old boy. We were able to join him relatively quickly by air--by boat it would have been hours. Today, I flew home to do the shopping and errands that I was intending to do last night before joining the family tonight. Tomorrow I'll deliver the groceries, and then ferry my family back to our little island paradise.

When we were looking at land on this island, one person who was selling said that being a pilot was the only way to make it work. While his avocation required it, this week the convenience and flexibility of being a pilot and plane owner allowed me to be with my family at a critical time.

I guess in the end it shows that sometimes it's as much about aviation...and only sometimes about being a cub driver...that reminds us that the magic of flight is just that...


06-19-2004, 04:59 PM
Great story, Marc. Glad everything worked out OK for your son!