View Full Version : What's Good For the Goose...is Good For the Gander
10-31-2011, 09:14 AM
Chapter One - FEDs are People Too!
As I approach the end of my career, after thirty-eight years of professional flying starting in Kotzebue in 1973, I find myself spending a certain amount of time looking back and recalling the highs and lows. I suppose that’s a fairly unneeded statement, given that you’re reading the Chronicles. And I suppose to some extent at least, it is a normal part of the aging process. Although I have known several people who never look back, even as far as yesterday, and they seem to be quite happy with that.
For with today’s technology, it’s certainly easier than ever to reconnect with your past if that is what you choose to do. The old technology…represented by Kodak Instamatics or something like that, meant it took a little more effort to document the most meaningful moments of your lives pre-1980. But being lazy, and at that point, certainly never expecting to live much beyond thirty (given the death rate in my chosen profession in those days) I never even bothered to take pictures. With anything other than my memory.
So these days I close my eyes and draw on my memory banks which are (thankfully) still mostly functional and accurate. For as much as anything else; as much as the beauty of the land, it is the people of my younger Alaskan life that I remember most vividly. Quite unsurprisingly, among them are dozens and dozens of pilots. And among those pilots are a handful of F.A.A. Inspectors.
Now, as some of you may remember, just about my favorite cartoonist (next to Charles Shultz of “Peanuts” fame, of course) is Gary Larson who did the “Far Side” stuff. And we all remember the “pilot” cartoons. The two guys in the cockpit, one giving a P.A. to the passengers:headset1:, apologizing for the turbulence as the other “rocks the boat” with the controls and laughs:lol:; and my personal favorite, which shows the two pilots staring out the windshield. Amidst the clouds above them, they see a goat standing there. I still believe a trip through Anaktuvuk Pass had to be the inspiration for that one.
Howsumever…another “Far Side” cartoon sticks in my mind that I think might be apropos to the telling of this story. It’s along the line of comedian Bill Engval’s famous “He-e-e-re’s your (Stupid!) SIGN” tagline.
The cartoon depicts God in His workshop with a huge globe (earth) on the table in front of Him. In His right hand, He is holding (and shaking) above the globe, what looks like one of those big Parmesan cheese shakers you’d find on the table in a Pizza Hut. Tiny black specks are falling from the shaker onto the globe and the caption reads “Hmmmm. This should make it interesting”. :wink: The shaker is labeled… “Idiots and Nitwits”!
IN my 57 years on the globe, I have come to the realization that worldwide, about 10% of the population apparently came from outta’ that shaker. But the upside is that for you or me, the odds are nine-to-one against either of us being one of them! (Although on any given day I know several people might not be too sure about me.) Thus, among the hundreds of pilots and F.A.A. inspectors with whom I have shared the aviation world, I have encountered some of that 10% and of course, they have encountered me on my 10% days as well. We all have them.
As the chapter title states, FEDs are people too. So this story is about “one of those days”, and involves a couple of life-long friends who were FEDs, now retired. Actually there was a third FED involved, but I can’t remember the guy, so he must be one of those that was “in and out” in a short time span. I just hope Morey Sheen and Lefty Derringle (the FEDs in this story) can laugh about it now as much as I do. (And did when it happened!)
You see…Morey especially wasn't exactly known for his sense of humor or flexible thinking back in those days.:banghead: He was definitely what you’d call a stickler for the rules which of course made this event soooo much more enjoyable for me and Little D. On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed any time to find a more laid-back ops inspector than Lefty. For while Lefty could crack down on an errant pilot:whis: just as hard and as quickly as would any other inspector, he was willing to first listen to the pilot’s explanation of why he had “sinned” against the FARs.
If your reason for violating a rule, (as long as it wasn’t pre-planned) was the safest thing to do in a set of honestly unforeseen circumstances, Lefty and a few other guys would let you skate with no more than a stern admonition that you learn from the experience. No paper. No L.O.I.s, and No B.S.
But with Morey…you never knew. I mean…this is a guy who, years after this event, gave me a three-point-eight…3.8! hour ATP checkride in a Navajo Chieftan! And I already held a single-engine ATP license! :roll: And during the checkride (you’ll never believe this I know, but I swear on Gramma CloudDancer’s grave he did it….) during the checkride as I am trying to do a VOR approach, circle-to-land at Fairbanks International (with one simulated shut down); Morey leans over toward me and says loudly in a fake terrified voice “Captain!...CAPTAIN!”
More than mildly irritated:Gurgh:, I respond “WHAT? Fer’ crissake Morey! What do you want NOW?” as I struggle to hold my radial and get to minimums but not bust ‘em. So he continues in the same seemingly fearful voice (a really…really bad acting job) “There’s a guy! Back in row two. He’s…he’s got a knife and…oh…my GOD! He’s STABBING HIMSELF IN THE STOMACH WITH IT! WHAT should we DO!?!”
I’ll now pause for a moment, as many of you might want to actually go back and re-READ the last couple of paragraphs and wonder if I’m pulling your leg or not. Trust me. I’m not. Go ahead….I’ll just wait right here…..
Back? Okay. Let’s move on!
Well…at this point I think we were about three hours deep into this checkride and this wasn’t the first “off the wall” thing Morey had pulled out of his….hip pocket (for lack of a better word) in an attempt to add realistic “confusion” to what might otherwise just be a regular boring old emergency. And to his credit, had I ever been able to foresee some of the many unbelievably outrageous mid-air flusterclucks that would be thrown at me in my most recent decade as an Airbus Captain; I might not have been nearly so irritated at the time.
As it was, at that moment, I just thought Morey was being a loony-tune :nutz:and gave serious thought to ripping off my large, heavy plastic milky-white instrument hood and pummeling him with it! Yet even I could figure out that despite my practically flawless performance up to this point, to do so might negatively influence my overall pass-fail prospects.
So, gritting my teeth and mustering what self-control I had left, I growled something like “O.K. Morey. Look. I’m going to notify approach control and make sure they have both the troopers and an ambulance standing by for our arrival. AND...I hereby deputize you as my second-in-command to go back there and smack him around a little bit.” It was the best that I could come up with on short notice, and it seemed to satisfy him. I passed the ride.
But now, the more I think about it; I wonder if that checkride might not have been some small amount of retribution for a time years earlier, when Little D and I…o.k., mostly me…gave Morey a rough time after he had been infected with…
10-31-2011, 09:40 PM
those names are familiar.....;-)
Now get back to the story..!!!
11-01-2011, 08:53 AM
Chapter Two - A Bad Case of Get-Home-itis
11-01-2011, 09:01 AM
Chapter Two - cont'd
I whizzed over Front Street and instantly transitioned to flying on the gauges, barreling out over the Kotzebue Sound, still on downwind for runway zero eight. It was as if I had instantly flown into a milk bottle. Below me was the completely dull white and snow covered ice of the sound. It merged seamlessly with the dull white skies that surrounded us as the snow continued to intensify. At the same time the airspeed needle crept lower, entering the top of the flap speed arc on it’s round dial as well.
I pulled slightly aft on the control yoke while rolling to the left, basically executing a mini chandelle (altitude-wise) to bring my Skywagon back around in one smooth one-hundred-eighty degree turn to the left. At the same time I started the turn I reached over and slapped the grey airfoil shaped electric flap control to it’s fully extended position. Using thirty degrees of bank for the turn was both fun and practical. It demanded attention to the instruments for precision, and reduced the distance that the now howling easterly winds at pattern altitude would push me out over the ice.
The directional gyro spun rapidly clockwise, and as the 150 degree mark passed the white triangle at the top of the instrument’s face, I leaned forward to the left to take a peek at how well I would line up to runway. No bank adjustment was necessary however, for as planned, the maneuver was lining me up almost perfectly with the centerline. I snapped the wings level when initially lined up with the runway, only to immediately have to input a five degree bank to the left once more. It took only a slight four or five degree crab to counter a small crosswind drift to the right.
Now my empty and relatively light Cessna 207 was positioned only a half mile from the threshold of the runway and a good 900 feet or so above the ice. From this vantage point I could hardly make out the shape of the white VORhouse less than two miles distant, where it sat atop the bluff just off the east end of Kotzebue’s longest runway, no more than a half mile distant from the threshold on the far end. If the visibility was two miles..it was just barely.
My groundspeed had dropped from lickety-split to just a slow progression at this point. And this was when we got to have fun! No passengers and a howling wind, all but straight down the runway, almost always inspires an aviator to “play” with his airsheen. How slow can I get my groundspeed? (And still keep a safety buffer on the airspeed for gusts!) But alas, even though I could most likely drop the whole nine hundred feet between here and the runway end identifier lights, with only twenty-five gusting to thirty-two knots blowing; there’s no way I will make the first diagonal taxiway right at the runway entrance. That takes about 40 (+) knots of steady wind, at least in a sled.
I settle for flopping down on the snow and ice covered asphalt a few hundred feet down the runway, after playing “How SLOOOOW Can You GO?”:Gworm: at two feet over the runway for several seconds. I managed.to get the indicated airspeed down to 56 knots before the bottom fell out and I kerplunked to the ground with a couple of hundred feet to spare before reaching the next runway exit.
I had to wait to announce my arrival to Flight Service and thereby release my ownership of the control zone. Once again I listened a final time as the specialist on duty announced the latest special weather report, now dropping the visibility to just one mile. Working the elevator and ailerons throughout the slow and careful taxi back to our ramp, I awaited the end of his transmission. The instant he was done, I mashed down my push-to-talk switch and called it quits for the day.
“Kotzebue Radio. Cessna 1729U is down and clear. Cloooose me out and let’s call it a day. I think I hear a barstool callin’ my buttcheeks!”:drinking:
11-01-2011, 10:18 AM
Oh just great....Now I'm hooked. I'm gonna have to buy the books. :lol:
thanks Cloudy keep 'em coming...........Mike
11-01-2011, 11:33 AM
Hiya Tophand - :howdy
Welcome to the club I guess. It seems though that ya' be in FINE company! :up The joy and stress relief of reading a volume of CloudDancer's Alaskan Chronicles seems to be spreading around the globe!
I am both humbled and proud to say these fine aviation literary someday-to-hopefully-be classics are now read in all fifty states and U.S. Territorys:flag and forty-six foreign countries to boot! What an honor and priviledge.
But it has always been for you tophand, and all my fellow SuperCub.org members and guests, that I have most wanted to bring laughter and amusement. You folks are among the very finest folks I've know in a lifetime devoted to avaition.
There is waaaay to much :rock::onfire::9mm in our lives, and not enuff :cheers:new_rofl::pty: as it is. If in some small way I can help cure the imbalance...that is my overriding goal.
You kind words and caring shared with me here in the last six years have made a remarkable difference in the rest of my life. TRULY a remarkable difference.
I will remain eternally grateful for that.
11-02-2011, 05:19 PM
Chapter Three - Don't Say I Didn't Warn You...
11-02-2011, 07:27 PM
Cloudy went to amazon today and ordered vol. 1-2 and 3 so as to have some winter entertainment the storys are grate chuck
11-03-2011, 12:40 AM
Hiya Chuck! :howdy
By golly...ya' jus' made me grin real big too then! :-P Mebbe I might get out to Tennessee onea' these days an' I can scratch mah mark in 'em somewheres for ya'! ENJOY! (An' please tell all yer' flyin' buddies)
11-03-2011, 09:04 AM
Chapter Four - If Today Wuz a Fish...I'd Throw It Back!
Great Godfrey Daniels! I had completely forgotten about Morey and his band of merry men, still aloft in this continuously worsening weather.
Quickly I gave Little D a thorough recap of my entire recent midair radio exchange:headset1: with the now quite anxious sounding 206 pilot. At the same time the scanner continued to provide the two of us with the play-by-play info as, for now at least, Morey had become to us just another pilot who seemed to be in a bit of a jam. Certainly the tone of his voice indicated a much more elevated level of stress:Ggurn: than the last time I heard it coming through a speaker.
And now, just like any of us would under the circumstances, he “played the game”. When Anchorage Center came back with, “Roger IFR request N7014X. Maintain VFR and standby.” you could almost feel the tenseness of his response to the distant controller. “Roger that Anchorage. But please be aware that with our groundspeed it's just going to be another five or so minutes before we'll be ready for an approach clearance as well.”
Dragging my cup of steaming coffee offa’ the counter I rose from my comfy seat and sauntered over to the window facing the ramp. As I suspected, things had continued to go further to hell (weather-wise) outside.:down I could barely see the southeastern end of the lagoon on the far side of the east-west runway. At best we were down to a mile. The line of Cessna singles parked outside the window now danced and bobbed, tugging against the ropes lashing them to the ground. Already the snowdrifts were forming around the wheels and had grown to two or three inches. For anybody besides a polar bear, this was turning into one crappy day.
“November 5914X this is Anchorage Center. Clearance follows, ready to copy?” erupted from the scanner's tinny sounding speaker. At once followed Morey's clipped reply. “Anchorage, 14 X-ray is ready. Go ahead.”
“Cessna 5914X is cleared to the Kotzebue airport present position direct, and cleared for the VOR runway zero-eight approach to the Kotzebue airport. Maintain six thousand feet until on a published segment of the approach. Advise Kotzebue radio upon arrival.”
Again barely a microsecond elapsed between the end of the controller's transmission and Morey's verbatim readback of the instructions. His voice sounded only slightly more relieved now that he was the owner of the clearance and the Kotzebue control zone for his approach. For until that point, he had no way of knowing if there was any other possibly conflicting inbound IFR traffic, which could've required the controller to issue Morey holding instructions instead. And there was no doubt in my mind, that Morey and the boys were squirming in their seats watching the ice build up on the leading edges of the wings and the struts.
In that situation, which you really try never to get into in the first place; you are all but helpless. No amount of wishing or prayer affects the laws of physics and aerodynamics. The plane is designed with “X” amount of lift and endowed with a finite amount of available thrust. Ice not only adds weight and increases drag, but has the added effect of reducing the amount of available lift by deforming the smooth shape of the airfoil.
So a pilot trapped in this situation sits fidgeting in his chair.:???: He wants to looks at the wing strut again, but really is afraid to, fearful of what he might see. Hoping despite all other obvious and irrefutable visual evidence, that maybe somehow friction has melted some of the ice away. At last he looks again. It's probably been less than two minutes since he last peeked. And...DAMN! It's worse! There's MORE!:bad-words: Now he wishes he was Clark Kent and secretly endowed with Superman's “heat vision”. He could melt the ice away himself.
Instead he or she has to confront the reality of all the aforementioned laws. Which boils down to one simple and quite undeniable point. The equation is currently unresolvable as written. One or more of the current factors must change for flight to continue. And once the throttle is full forward and the airspeed is still falling off, you have one card left to play. You give up altitude in a final trade-off for the lifeblood you need to stay aloft a while longer...airspeed. Thus begins the last, most assuredly finite stage of your journey.:LeahHarp2: If icing conditions persist all the way to the ground, as they do in this case, you will terminate flight either with a landing or an impact. Eventually the steadily decreasing numbers on your altimeter will reach a point where they match the height of the terrain. It is highly desirable that a suitable landing strip slips beneath your wheels just before that occurs. Been there. Done that. Unfortunately no airstrip appeared in time.:Gurgh: SUCKS! (See “Superheroes Only Live in Comic Books” in Vol. III, “The Tragedies”)
Little D broke into my sympathetic train of thought about that time with “We-e-ell it's a good thing for those boys that the wind's just about straight down the runway. Doesn't sound like ol' Morey needs any extra challenges right now, eh?” I responded that I'd hafta' agree with him on that point and said “Hey. We may as well hang out for a few and see if they manage to actually make it down in one piece, huh? Might be some cheap entertainment!”:pop: Dean laughed and said “Might as well. The Pondu ain't going anywhere.”
A few short minutes later Morey checked in with Kotzebue Radio, reporting himself to be “over the Kotzebue VOR outbound for the approach”. The specialist on duty “rogered” the position report and followed that up with the most current weather, which was the same as the last special weather report they had issued almost fifteen minutes previously.
“Cessna 5914 X, current Kotzebue weather is indefinite ceiling, estimated five hundred feet sky obscured with visibility holding at one mile. Current winds now zero-seven-zero at twenty-six gusting to thirty-seven and the altimeter is two-niner-five-two. Altimeter falling rapidly. Advise Kotzebue Flight Service upon landing this frequency.”
Morey responded with a curt one word reply. “Roger.” He continued to sound pretty wound up. But I can't say as I blame him. This was still really a kind of high pressure situation for him:behead: even though salvation was much nearer at hand. See...these guys (the federales...most of 'em anyway) don't fly all that often. Pretty rarely, if at all really, unless they have their own airplane. And Morey didn't. He had, however, previously been a USAF pilot and had certainly seen plenty of airborne challenges and flown his way out of a few other sticky situations. So thankfully he had that experience to rely on. But when it comes to flying crap weather and shooting tough approaches...nothing beats currency and the proficiency of doing it day in and day out under all kinds of conditions.
Morey probably would've been even more wound up had he known the truth about the weather report he had just received. For as they so often did in those days, the fellas at the National Weather Service and the Flight Service station found themselves too busy with other pressing chores to either glance out the vast array of 5 x 6 glass panes in front of their faces or to take another special weather observation. Thus Morey, Lefty and their partner conveniently were quoted one mile of visibility, which just happened to be the approach minimums. The fact that my Mark I eyeballs :crazyeyes: were now telling me that visibility was below 3/4's now and closer to a half-mile was irrelevant.
This was a quite common “mulligan” back in my early days in the Arctic. It was often used throughout the bush to allow pilots to get back into their base at Kotzebue, Nome or wherever; as opposed to forcing them to either declare an emergency :help to land below minimums or have to divert to an outlying village.
11-03-2011, 09:07 AM
Chapter Four - Cont'd
11-04-2011, 08:32 AM
Chapter Five - I Caught 'em Fair 'n Square
In another six or seven minutes, things seemed just about wrapped up in an anticlimactic finish. Morey dropped the Cessna Stationair onto the runway almost directly abeam the window through which Dean and I now shared the view, hoping to witness at least a really atrocious landing (now that they were safe, of course). It’s always fun to watch another guy really PRANG one on:lol:, and we thought given the circumstances, there was a good chance Morey’d give us one to chortle at. But no such luck.
It was therefore almost with disappointment in his voice that Little D said “Okay. They’re down. Let’s go get some lunch and get down to the Pondu and start prospectin’ ” as he turned away from the window. But I stopped him with a “Not so fast Bud. Morey ain’t got this thing corralled just yet. He could still manage to wind up on his nose taxying in ya’ know.”
And I could almost see the light bulb go off over Little D’s head :Geureka: as he remembered how notorious the (relatively new to him) Cessna 206 is for going over on it’s nose and one wingtip when taxying in severe quartering and gusty tailwinds.
Unlike it’s bigger brother the 207 SkyWagon (sled); the tail feathers of the 206 ride much higher than the 207’s, even when the 206 is loaded heavy. And these guys weren’t loaded heavy at all. So now the slightest inattention, positioning of the elevator or ailerons even slightly out of the fully deflected and appropriate up or down position at the wrong time, could possibly cause them to topple over on their nose. Then they’d be chewing the frozen dirt and gravel ramp with their McCauley prop for a few dozen RPMs before they even realized it was happening. For once the wind gets under the elevator and horizontal stab and starts the lifting action…the ride is no longer under your control! You ARE going over!
About all you can do is whack the mixture knob real quick in an effort to save the propeller from being a total wreck and hang on and watch as the ground now replaces the horizon ahead and fills your windshield. Trust me. It is the most sickening feeling :oops: sort of outright crashing. Uh…or…uh...so I’ve heard. From those who have…uh...accidentally done it, you know.
Encouraged now at the renewed possibility that our arch enemies might yet wind up with egg on their recently saved-from-oblivion faces (now that they were safely on the ground and weren’t actually like…ya’ know…gonna’ kill themselves or anything bad…) Little D spun on his sealskin mukluked heel and came charging back to join me at the window with, I swear, a positively evil leer on his face. :-P You could almost see the horns holding up his halo.
It took Morey a full two minutes to carefully creep his airsheen from the center of the runway northward, broadside to the now gale force winds on the taxiway to the ramp, and then traverse slowly the remaining two hundred or so yards downwind to their chosen parking spot. And since they had parked in our lot on this trip, it was to our ramp which they now returned.
The Cessna approached our property creeping forward slowly at a 45 degree angle to our five wingtip-to-wingtip airplane flight line. Finally, having pulled cautiously to within a plane-length of the red-shrouded noses of our haltered aero-steeds, Morey judiciously applied a bit of power while locking up his right wheel with the brake. I watched as the ailerons flipped from full right down to full right up as the added force of the howling winds pushing on the Cessna’s vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly helped spin the small machine on the proverbial dime.
Just as the plane came to a halt, the scanner erupted with Morey’s voice, now sounding much relieved. “Kotzebue Radio, Cessna 7014X is down and clear. Thanks for your help today.” And after an acknowledgement from the Flight Service specialist ending with a cheery “Welcome back we’ll send a truck for you guys!” the specialist continued without a pause for a breath “special weather report for Kotzebue at zero-eight after the hour….”
I looked at my wristwatch. The sweep second hand was passing through the numbers 12 at the top of the dial and the big hand was on the eight. The propeller on the 206 was winding down as he read the visibility portion of the sequence. It was three-eights of a mile now. The rhythmically flashing red beacon on the top of the Cessna’s vertical fin went dark. In the now near blizzard conditions, only the deep cherry colored thick glass that housed the flashing bulb, along with the dark bold black print spelling out the airplane operator’s company name, enabled Dean and I to actually see the outlines of the crème-colored vertical tailplane.
Again disappointed at the lack of an embarrassing outcome for the FEDs Little D turned away and began to zip up in preparation for heading to town. “Well there’s just no more fun to be had here today. Let’s go see what we can stir up downtown.”
We went through our office shutdown ritual. All the usual and mundane stuff takes about two minutes. You know…emptying out and rinsing the coffee pot, shutting down the radios, checking all the hangar doors and so forth. So, planning as normal to use the side door, which faces west and away from the ramp, for our final exit, I stopped last to lock the south (ramp-facing) door and glanced back out the window as I did. I fully expected to see all three FEDS in the process of putting their own plane to bed, engine cover on, rolling out the 55 gallon steel drums full of water (ice) that we use for spare tie-downs. This is common practice throughout Alaska in the winter by the way. A drum of water weighs well over four hundred pounds. Two apiece on each side of your Cessna are standard “temporary” tie-downs.
But instead I saw nothing. Outside the plane anyway. But I could make out dark specks through the plane’s rear plexiglass windows. The FEDs were still obviously still inside, and there was no engine cover on the plane. So apparently they hadn’t even gotten out yet. This I thought quite puzzling, as only the most irresponsible pilot would allow his engine to shock cool in such a manner. Normally any Alaskan pilot worth his salt would leap out of his airplane and have his engine cover at least draped over the cowling and blocking the wind from the forward intakes within a minute of the propeller stopping.
“Hey Little D! Come look at this man! Something weird’s going on here.” I hollered at Dean who was standing with his hand on the doorknob at the other end of the office.
“Whaaat!? I’m ready to go! Let’s go! I’m getting hot in here.” he countered. For he was already fully dressed, gloved and helmeted and ready to leap on his Yamaha racing sled parked outside the door.
“What is it?” his muffled but still impatient sounding voice came from beneath his bright red woolen full-faced ski mask and double wrapped scarf. It was barely audible over the swishing sound that the nylon legs of his snowsuit made as he walked across the office to find out what was holding me up. And once beside me and seeing what I had, he turned and his blue eyes looked at me with the same curiosity that I felt. “Hmmm. What you figure. Cloud-man?” I wonder what they’re doing? Maaaan. My old man or Leroy would have my ass :bad-words:if I let my engine cool down like that, eh?”
“Yeah. No kidding D. I kinda’ wonder what the hell they’re doing. I can’t take this long to get their duds on.” I said. After another two or three second glance Dean again turns his blue eyes on me and says “Well. Whatever their problem is…I don’t care. We’re done. They’re alive. Let’s go.” The last spoken as he begins to turn away again.
And then...inspiration strikes me, and I grab Little D firmly by his arm and say “Hold up pardner. I got an idea! Maybe we can have some fun with this after all!” And Dean stands still. Knowing me as he does, (we’re cut from the same…uh…devious cloth…) a leery tone creeps into his muffled voice as he asks “So what are you thinking there oh roommate of mine?”
“Well” I replied, “I’m thinking it is just about time that somebody ramp checked the FEDs! Don’t you?” I laughed. And Dean’s glacier blue eyes got notably bigger as he looked at me like I was a real loony-toon. “Are you serious?” the asked incredulously. “Are you craaazy?” his voice rising a little that time. “You are NUTS!” he declared with finality. “I’m goin’!” and he started to turn again. And again I grabbed him. “No! No Dean. You don’t even have to do anything thing. Just come with me and watch! This might be a lot of fun!”
His head twisted slightly side-to-side a couple of time as he tried what he already knew would be a futile attempt at changing my intentions. “Oooooh man. I dunno’ about this. I think we should just leave them fellas alone. Let ‘em do whatever they’re doing out there without us! There’s no reason to go poke around in a bear’s den with a stick you know.”
11-04-2011, 08:34 AM
Chapter Five - Cont'd
11-04-2011, 09:54 AM
Now that's funny.
11-05-2011, 10:02 PM
So last summer, I'm attending a CFI refresher course because I let my CFI expire once, and I'll never do that again, and an older gentleman (even way older than me) is sitting at the next table, and he looks very familiar. Then he mentions some story about Alaska, and I ask "did you ever fly up there?" And he says he used to work for the FSDO Office out of Fairbanks, and Bingo, that's where I remember him from. "Morey Sheen". He said he went up north to fill in for a year, and ended up staying over ten.
I asked if he remembered "CD", and he said yes, very well. Especially a certain check ride he administered to "CD". He remembered "CD" arguing about a few manuevers Morey asked him to perform, but "CD" did them like a good boy and passed with flying colors. Now I'm sure that there are two different versions to this infamous checkride, and it would be fun to hear both sides of the story.
What was really cool was I got Morey to tell stories about his time in Alaska and other places, and to see the respect in the other students eyes once they realized he just wasn't some old fart that flew a Stearman once. He had one heck of a career, not only with the FAA, but with the military and civilian side as well. One of the CFI's in the class was one of Morey's former students, and he told me he never knew any of this about him.
Morey worked mostly the west coast of Alaska during his time with the FAI FSDO Office, and he told me he got to know most of the pilots and their families out there, and considered most of them his friends. He said the hardest part of his job was when he had to do a fatal accident investigation, and it broke his heart every time as most of the victims he considered as his friends. It was one of the main reasons he left the state.
11-06-2011, 09:32 AM
Hiya Snoosebur...er uh:oops: (sorry)...I mean Yukon John!(*) -:howdy
Yeah...ol' Morey is a damn good man. And you're right. Almost all of those guys were considered to be friends by many of us; although when it came to the real old timers, not so much.
But "Lefty" and "Morey" sure both fell into that category along with "Timmy Timmerson" as several others. "Timmy" has passed, but I ran across him a few times at the airport restaurant in Chandler, Arizona after he retired there. And we sure had great times recounting our Alaska experiences.
I still consider "Morey" and "lefty" to be great friends, and although I seldom, if ever, get to see either one these days; through the magic of the internet, we now are in occasion communication. I can only hope that their sense of humor is wide and deep enuff to appreciate "What's Good for the Goose..." and still remain friends. But this story was just too good not to tell.
Were we so damn lucky to have been there when we were. To have experienced what we experienced. To learn from the men we learned from, and to be able to call them our friends.
Much of our shared common Arctic Alaska flying experience is gone forever, unrepeatable in today's Alaska (bush) flying. For the most part, for the better. It is a common bond for so many of us now.
I often wonder how many times you, I and Oh-bi-wan have unknowingly flashed by each other in opposite directions at almost twice the speed of sound in our Airbii and seven-threes; separated by only a fraction of a mile and one-thousand feet,; each of us sitting, feet propped up, body trapped in our respective turbojet powered aluminum cocoons, while in our minds meanwhile, we reflect back wistfully. And in our minds eye, once again we are young, free from stress and worry, and soaring and diving through crisp and clean early autumn arctic skies. Barreling across the placid surface of an isolated mirror-surfaced lake or the multi-hued autumn tunda at just a few feet before hauling back on the stick and....
Damn! Van's here. Time to go make the donuts at KSFO. Peace everbody....
11-09-2011, 09:04 PM
Chapter Five - cont'd
Reaching the double clamshell doors behind the right wing I peered through the plexiglass windows and was greeted by an abso-tively posolutely splendiferous sight!
“Dean…Dean! C’mere man! You gotta’ see THIS!” The grin on my face stretched from ear-to-ear beneath my insulated face mask. :smile: Like a child discovering a pile of shiny wrapped presents under the tree on Christmas morning, I could hardly contain my excitement.:elefant: For there in front of our very prying eyes, in the aft end of the Cessna’s cabin, lay a jumbled pile of suitcases and pilot flight bags! One of each, for each of the plane’s three occupants. And nary a cargo net nor restraint of any kind was anywhere nearby!
I smacked Little D’s left arm and we turned and looked to look at each other as he opined “We-e-ell, well, well! I guess maybe them F.A.A. fellas must not have to secure their stuff on accounta’ they’re operating Part 91, you figure?” And he continued “ ‘Cause, I’m sure if there was a rule they’d be the first guys to do it right I imagine.” :roll: This last statement was reeking of implied sarcasm, of course.
We looked back into the aft cabin again and I noted the presence of the standard Cessna-issue nylon mesh cargo net. It was in the back of the airplane, folded in a neat square pile, and laying on the floor against the tan plastic aft cabin bulkhead. So it’s not as if they couldn’t have tied the bags down if they had wanted to. Heck. We’ve even used seat belts to strap bags down if we’re lazy, and they didn’t even do that! Nope. This was just a flagrant case of not practicing what they preached at us :preach day in and day out. And we had ‘em dead-to-rights :whis: in my book.
Standing to my right, Dean was blocking my view of Lefty in the front right seat so I turned to him and said “Hey. Move back a minnit, will ya’? I want Lefty to see me.”
And as soon as he moved I turned slightly right and bent down some so I could look through the windows and see Morey, then rotated my gaze to both Lefty, and then the guy in back. I was still bare-handed, with both my large elbow-length mittens tucked into my left armpit. Slowly I raised my left hand still grasping my little notebook extending my pointer finger in Morey’s direction and then raised my right hand, still holding the pen. Now extending the pointer finger on my right hand, I slid it three or four times cross-wise on top of, and down the length of my left pointer finger, in the classic “Shame, shame on you” :cluck gesture while slowly shaking my head side to side.
Beside me I heard Little Dean breaking out in hearty guffaws, while inside the plane Lefty had finally given up the battle to keep a straight face and had broken out in a full smile. His eyes too now betrayed him, dancing with silent laughter at the humor of it all.:wink:
The dude in the back seat, whoever he was, continued to just watch me. He appeared as if completely dumbfounded :Gwhoa: by this display of audacity and my apparent lack of fear in poking at the grizzly bear.
And finally there was Morey. His face was still frozen in the same angry mask two minutes later as it had been when I first walked up to the airplane. If anything, it had become even more contorted :Gurgh: as my “inspection” progressed. Eyebrows scrunched down tightly, his lips were pressed so hard together they had almost disappeared from his face. And the furrows in his forehead were so deep you coulda’ wedged a dime in any one of ‘em and it’d stick there! And, as it had been I’m sure for the last hour or so, at this moment, Morey’s sense of humor was decidedly…nowhere to be found.
Lefty helplessly, as hard as he was trying not to….breaking out into a full shoulder jumping set of chuckles when I did the “Shamey…shamey” thing and the solemn headshake, probably didn’t help the atmosphere inside the cabin or Morey’s mood whole lot either.
Again I looked back at Morey as I turned over my left hand exposing the notebook and began to doodle on it with my pen. I stopped momentarily and made a point of turning back toward the aft cargo doors. I then pointed with the pen at each bag, as if counting them, before making a couple of final doodles. I looked up at Morey as I made a show of closing the notebook and stuffing it and the pen back into the breast pocket of my snowsuit.
Turning back toward Dean I said “Well. I believe our work is done here. I can’t figure out how to milk any more enjoyment out of this, at least right now. Whaddya’ think? Time to warm up with a hot buttered rum yet?”
Came Dean’s reply “Oooooh yeah Cloudy. I think we beat up on these boys :yeow: just about enough for today. Besides. I think ol’ Morey’s in danger of blowing a cylinder by the looks of him, and as much as I get mad at that fella’, I’d sure feel bad if we cause him to rupture a gasket or something. Let’s go mount up and I’ll se ya’ at the Pon-doo!”
Flying Miss Daisy
11-10-2011, 06:36 AM
Too MUCH CD! this is a good one.
11-13-2011, 10:59 PM
Good story Cloudy, funny and pretty much the way I remember it. It was all in good fun (except the 206 flight in ice, which scared the hell out of me). Old Morey was good to work with, but in the Air Force he was a "heavy iron driver", with a full complement of crewmembers, pushing around a piece of machinery with at least 4 engines, with the capability, in tough weather situations, to put the whip to it and climb above it all. This was not the first, or only flight to the west coast, in a small aircraft, in which Morey and I had a "difference in opinion" on how to procede (or not).
11-14-2011, 12:03 AM
Holy Cow Riflemaker! Is that you "Lefty"?!? :howdy
Cheese Louise! I didn't know you hung out here. :Gwhoa: Uh....well...uh...glad you're enjoying the story. :Gparp: Your "funny and pretty much the way I remember it" comment is about the highest praise I could ever hope to achieve my old friend. I am honored greatly, and thank you for writing it.
There's probably at least a few folks that think I make summa' this stuff up or embellish it all to hell. :nutz:But like the F/O I just flew with, a whole lotta' folks have a hard time believing this stuff is all true. A review such as yours helps people appreciate the Chronicles more fully.
Just rolled in from my latest four day hostage crisis. So I'll crank out the final chapter of this one tamale :compute: and put it up.
I'll be in town around the end of the month. We need to get together for coffee.
11-14-2011, 11:06 AM
Standing by to order IV.. These are way too short! I wait all year to get a book that I will read in one day! Been missing your stories, but they are worth the wait! Hope that script goes someplace, I think with the current level of AK buzz on TV, a movie would be a block buster!
Flying Miss Daisy
11-14-2011, 11:18 AM
A TV movie "Flying Wild in Alaska" See Ferno as an Alaskan Hottie!
11-14-2011, 11:53 AM
cloudy got I,II in mail last week waiting on III and IV finished the two that i have you need to put out about four a year so we have winter reading the first two were GRATE!!!! take care chuck
11-15-2011, 01:15 AM
Chapter Six - Life is like a Game of Monopoly
11-15-2011, 03:03 AM
Chapter Six - cont'd
As Willow retreated I saw Janice coming over our way carrying her beer and coat. I was just starting to think things were going to go nicely as Janice said “So CloudDancer, who’s your blonde-headed frien…” and then stopped short only for a moment before continuing on “Little Dean?! Is that you?! Ohmigosh! I haven’t seen you since you came down for basketball how many years ago! How are you?”
Damn that kid! :Gurgh:
It was all over for me now. I’d seen this before. He just laid those baby blue eyes of his on her, batted his blonde eyelashes and put on his “Aw….shucks…ma’am” 8) demeanor, and it was as good as all over but the panting afterwards. I pulled some quarters outta’ the pile in front of me and headed for the juke box.
Over the next ninety minutes Dean and Janice practically ignored me as he sprinkled his magic love dust and she fell under his spell. :love: (Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly….) The one time she’d “excused herself” for a few moments to go powder her nose, and I actually re-entered Little D’s focus again I couldn’t help needling him a bit in my frustration. “Well, you know you’re gonna’ owe me for stealing that one!” :Gsnide:
And to my surprise Little D turned and said “Ooooh NO! I really like this girl. I mean alot! I mean….I want to be with this girl!” And the kid was looking at me all serious-like! But, of course, I’d seen this three or four times already since Little D had moved to town. Like a child at Disneyland for the first time, Little D was so excited about riding all the rides, he couldn’t pick a favorite for long. There was always another exciting ride to be ridden right down the path in Tomorrowland! So I just nodded and said “Mmmm-hmmmm.”, as Janice returned to her seat and again I was lost to their little world.
In another few minutes the acting got real bad :roll:, as Janice allowed that she “had something she needed to go do” and asked Willow to call for Tommy One-Eye to take her home. (Remember Tommy? He’s our resident full-time cab driver / part-time bootlegger we met in “Hey Pilot! I Gotta’ Pee!’; the very first CloudDancer Alaskan Chronicle written oh-so-many- years ago?)
Little D however graciously offered to drive her home in order to save her the cab money. The role-playing continued for a couple of more minutes, I suppose for my benefit?! Janice saying "Oh no D. I don’t want to put you out…..yada…yada…” Little D with “Oh! I don’t mind at all…yada…yada”, until I finally interrupted with “Oh for chrissake! Will you two just go already!” At which point all pretense was dropped and they quickly bundled up. Just before walking out Dean leaned over to me and spoke quietly in a muffled voice through his knit face mask and scarf.
“Man Cloudy. I’m really crazy about this girl. I may not make it home tonight. Or maybe tomorrow night either, or maybe ever if this turns out the way I think it could.” I looked in his eyes and said “I’ll believe that…when I see it! Now will the two of you get the hell outta’ here, so maybe I can score a bedwarmer of my own!” And then they were off still making goo-goo eyes at each other :luv2: as they walked out the door to go consummate this new, obviously life-long and soul-bonding “relationship”. Although my bet was that the storm raging outside would outlast Dean’s “devotion”. Oh ****! The storm! Damn! Where was I…? Oh yeah. The Nu-luk-vik!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: See! This is why, my friends and CloudDancer fanatics, that a group of six editors and publishers in the “real literary world” unanimously agreed that I am unpublishable. As one of them put it, I all too often “wander off into the tall grass” (as in the passage you just read) instead of just telling the story. But! I do eventually return! And you bought the book and you’re still reading it! Right? So, once again I say to them…go BOINK yourselves!! Now. Back to the Nu-luk-vik bar….
Okay everbody. It's 2 aaa-yem here and I need to grab some shut-eye.... This'll have to do ya' for another 12 or 14 hours 'til I can get back to the keyboard.
Thanks to ALL of you for stopping by. Thanks to all of you for just being interested. G'nite!:sleeping:
Yer' humble and weary scribe....
11-15-2011, 07:16 PM
Chapter Six - cont'd
11-16-2011, 02:20 AM
Chapter Six - cont'd
At this point he finally lost it and absolutely cracked up, laughing heartily as he eyed me while mounting his own stool. There was no doubt that, while Lefty’s laughter was a gut reaction to both seeing my ****-eating grin and the fresh memories of our last encounter only hours earlier; it was also just as much an unconscious and unplanned, much needed pressure-relief valve. For here now sat a man who we both knew clearly, could just as easily have wound up only a scant few hours earlier, with his intestines intermingled with a pile of bent and crushed cylinders, pistons and valves that make up the inner workings of an IO-520 engine.
“Good to see ya’ still in one piece Lefty”, I said as the laughter quickly wound down, and I stuck out my right hand adding “I mean that ya’ know.” Shaking my hand firmly he looked me square in the eye and said “Damn glad to be here Cloudy. I’ve never been happier to see Kotzebue than I am today”.
And then for the next few minutes I just sat still, and drank quietly as Lefty let it all pour out.
As I had suspected, a heated mid-air debate had taken place within the cramped confines of the small Cessna’s cabin upon receipt of my pilot report. And I was surprised not one whit to learn that Lefty was for heeding my advice based on our professional mutual respect and on my local knowledge.
I never had the chance to talk this particular event over with Morey, so I most likely will never know what drove his decision making process that day.
Lefty was a gen-av guy, while Morey was ex-military and used to being in command of a fistful of throttles connected to some powerful turbojets that could usually get you out of or above the weather and thus, out of trouble. His experience facing tough weather in little “spam cans” instead of “big iron” was extremely limited.
Throw in a case of get-home-itis maybe?? Add in a dash of ego and a pinch of seniority to the pot, and you have all the makings of one of those “I Learned About Flying From That…” articles that we used to all read in the back of FLYING magazine every month.
Apparently, sticking with his stated plan to use the Kobuk River as a fallback navaid, the boys got as far as 15 miles or so upriver past Kiana, following the riverbank at low altitude as the snow got continually heavier and the forward visibility continually lower. And eventually, as I had so clearly foreseen and had tried in vain to warn him, it finally reached the point where even Morey had to holler “uncle” and give up the “press on” attitude. So having finally made what would be forever regarded, by others at least, as a long overdue decision to turn around, this is where the train goes off the tracks. For apparently Morey’s experience (heavy metal, LOTS of thrust, heated nacelles, air inlets and windshields) combined with Morey’s inexperience (LIDDLE airsheens…no LOTS of thrust…NO deicing equipment) led to the absolutely worst possible decision he could make at that time and that geographical place.
Lefty’s tentative sense of relief at hearing Morey finally turn to him in the right seat and say, “Okay. You were right. This is enough of this stuff. We gotta’ head back.” lasted no more than a few short seconds. For only a moment or two after lowering the right wing for what Lefty assumed would be a dicey right hand 180 degree turn accomplished level and primarily on instruments given the prevailing, close to whiteout conditions; Morey, to Lefty’s immediate shock and stunned disbelief, hauled back on the yoke and shoved the throttle and prop control knobs quickly full forward!
In an instant the storm swallowed up the Cessna and all visibility was gone, even vertical, as the Stationair initially rocketed upward away from the Kobuk Valley floor.
And almost immediately the ice began to form. Ho-o-o-le-e-y ****!
A rapid and somewhat panicked consult of the Nome sectional and the three men agreed that sixty-five hundred feet would give them both ample breathing room from the terrain, and be high enough to contact Anchorage Center. Fortunately, they were in a 206 and not a sled, and were well under gross. Otherwise….
Lefty then got very quiet for a moment. It lasted almost 15 seconds, as in his mind, he was again sitting in the right seat of the Cessna watching the ice build. He looked up and softly said to me “You know Cloudy. That’s the sickest feeling I ever had in my whole life, sitting there and watching that ice build up, and not knowing how it was going to end. I don’t ever…ever want to feel that way again.” And then he let go a big sigh. It is not every day that a man confronts his mortality.
I let his last statement just hang in the air for a few seconds. And then I just had to say something to save us from continuing to ponder the un-ponderable.
“So where are your fellow survivors? Are they planning to come down and celebrate life tonight?” I asked. In response Lefty stirred from his introspection, and looked up at me with a now somewhat more distasteful look on his face. “Frankly” he stated, the partially still unresolved anger evident in his tone, “I have no friggin’ clue where Morey is at the moment, nor do I care. Trust me. If the Maytag repairman were here tonight, I’m damn sure he would not be the loneliest guy in this town!” He continued “I haven’t seen Morey since we checked into our rooms, and that’s just fine for now.”
“And as for the new guy…uh…what’s-his-name…”. (okay,,,so now I don’t feel so bad, as Lefty apparently can’t remember his name either!) “I think he’s been up in his room talking on the phone to his wife about making a career change. I think he’s not much for small airplanes, and today might just of soured him on aviation altogether.” Another heavy silence was starting to sink in, when all of a sudden I had an idea to lighten the mood.
Leaning slightly back on my barstool I hollered out “Hey Lefty! By the way…” and paused.
I waited ‘til he looked up from the studying the ice cubes in his glass and met my eyes with his. Then a small grin began to appear on my face as I took my right hand and unbuttoned the left breast pocket of my flannel shirt. Raising the flap with my fingers as I dug into the pocket and my hand began to pull out my spiral notebook I continued as my grin got bigger “Do you know what this is my old friend?” And then…and then again came the stress-relieving, belly-aching, full-bodied laughter, for purt near a whole half minute, replacing the morbid self-examination that had churned just beneath the surface for hours.
Chuckling still, Lefty answered “Ooooh yeah. That’s your ramp inspection report note book. You gonna’ show me what you wrote?”
“Well, you’re close.” I replied. And Lefty said “Only close? I don’t get it.”
“I’ll put it to you this way Lefty.”, I said. “Ever now and again, when you least expect it, life drops somethin’ extra special into your lap, like manna from heaven.” And Lefty grunted an “Uh- huh” and added “So it does…does it? And just what do you think life has dropped into your grubby little paws today young fella’?”
“Ya’ know Lefty” I drawled, “sometimes life is just like a game of Monopoly. You ever play Monopoly bub?” And with a puzzled look on his face Lefty replied ‘Yeah. I suppose I’ve played Monopoly a few times. Hasn’t everybody?”
I now set the small pocket notebook on the bar in front of me and tapped the closed notebook with my index finger as I said “Well Lefty. This here ain’t no ordinary pocket-sized spiral notebook anymore. This here Lefty….this….is my ‘Get Out of Jail FREE’ notebook as long as you an Morey keep coming around!” And we both enjoyed the laughter that comment brought as we signaled the barkeep for a fresh round.
11-16-2011, 02:22 AM
Chapter Six - conclusion
Flying Miss Daisy
11-16-2011, 05:56 AM
Thanks CD.. this was a good one (this message has been lengthened beyond 10 characters to comply with the rules of the road)
11-16-2011, 06:16 AM
Loved the ending CD,, remember the movie "Stand By Me",, where 4 kids head out on an adventure and run into all kinds of trouble... Well, they gave an update on what happened to the characters after they grew up.. kinda like you did.. cept yours is real.. Loved the ending....
11-16-2011, 08:04 PM
Gary, you keep giving us these good stories for free!! I hung on every new post. There must be a way to put these into an
e-book series. I would have paid for them.
Laughed my ice off.
The other Gary
11-17-2011, 12:08 AM
Hiya Gary - :howdy
First and MOST importantly ....THANK YOU for your kind words. It really makes me happy 8) to know you enjoy the stories. That is what I can only pray my legacy will be. I would like to be remembered not so much as a pilot or a writer, but as someone who made people laugh and forget their cares for a while. Someone who helped people to dream.
As far as EBooks....you can visit www.iUniverse.com (http://www.iUniverse.com) or www.barnesandnoble.com (http://www.barnesandnoble.com) or www.amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com)
and indeed you may have to visit all three, but EBook versions are available. 'Course you can't get an EBook AUTOGRAPHED version anywhere. Only at www.clouddancer.org (http://www.clouddancer.org) can you get "the real deal" personally inscribed by yer's truly!
If you go through all my posts in this forum Gary, somewhere you will stumble across one from way back where I promised that SuperCub.org folks would always get to read my stuff before the rest of the world.
I make a promise, I keep a promise.
CloudDancer's Alaskan Chronicles was born on SuperCub.org The Chronicles grew up here. Nurtured, encouraged and very occasionally spanked by SuperCubbers, as they grew and progressed from crawling to walking. The members of SuperCub.org are my family and they are special to me. It will always be so.
12-12-2011, 01:53 PM
You put this in the wrong story.
12-12-2011, 02:30 PM
Thanks Kevin -:howdy
12-12-2011, 02:39 PM
Rats Cloudy. I read it and enjoyed the ending tacked on in this tread, wondering all the time if Steve E would find it here.
12-12-2011, 07:49 PM
Missed it here, but I'll keep lookin. How's that Florida Wx Cloudy?
12-13-2011, 02:14 AM
Hey Ya big GALOOT! :bang Be careful there. Don't be a'givin' away my :censor:(semi)secret identity dude! I'll have to charge you extra for Vol. IV if you do that again.
CloudDancer is like :x-mas: or the Tooth Fairy or sumthin'. You know...hamanimus...er....analgamus... uh...annonimi...you know...SECRET....Like Batman and Robin!
12-13-2011, 09:37 AM
Well I woke up and lo and behold,, somebody mistook my wx question,,,,, I was askin Gary Reeves.....now thats funny...
I thought my typin finger had gone bad....:lol:
02-23-2012, 12:26 AM
Thanks for all the stories cloudy. Got all your books next to the craper. Anytime I am constipated I re-read a marginal VFR story and quickly pinch out a big grumpy. Thanks for your memories.
02-23-2012, 06:32 AM
Hiya krines - :howdy
WoW! I am HONORED....to have my literay collection be the subject of your very 1st post! (I think.....). And I see you just joined us here at SC.org So a DOUBLE WELCOME is in order! :howdy:howdy
I have been told several times by readers, in a variety of different venues, that they found my literary collection to be "motivational". :LeahHarp2: But ceratinly your comments about how they "inspire" you in a "time of need":Ggurn:, rank among the most....uh...flatulating....for lack of a better word.:roll:
I only wish there was room left on the "Reader's Comments" page of my website...but...alass...there is none.:sad:
I hope there's room on the shelf next to the throne for one more poop prompter. Volume IV should be in print in the next week or two. Based on your comments, I'd suggest Quilted Northern...two-ply fer' sure!:wink:
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