Chapter One - The Sun Also Rises
It’s the middle of December and the days just don’t get much shorter than they are right now. Here, 37 miles above the Arctic Circle the old “sun rises in the East and sets in the West” that kids Outside are taught from grade school just don’t cut it.
I always have to laugh when people ask Alaskans “How do you stand being in the darkness for six months?” But, I guess until someone explains it to you and you think about it for a little while you just accept it like....well....like “the sun rises in.....etc”.
So for you “outside”ers , for fun one day if you think of it, or to be more specific; mark the calender for Dec 21st and June 21st the summer and winter equinox and solstice. If you live in the Northern half of our great nation, on those two specific days, compare the time between sunset and sunrise from YOUR newspapers weather page and say Miami.
And you southern tier folks do the same thing for your town and say Bangor, Maine. The further north or south you live in the 48 contiguous states the greater will be the difference. And the FURTHER you get from the equator the more drastic the change, and you can see it on a daily basis too. Simply do the same thing on either MARCH or SEPTEMBER 21st and you will see that while Kotzebue is gaining or losing nine or ten minutes of sunlight a day Miami may only be changing by a minute or two at most.
This explains why in Kotzebue, on the day of this story the sun came up in the (almost) DUE SOUTH around 11:15 AM or so . Actually it rose vertically straight up about five degrees east of due south. After rising in a straight line to about 10 or 12 degrees above the southern horizon it then moved horizontally to the right about ten degrees, and then dropped vertically straight down below the horizon about five degrees WEST of DUE SOUTH, disappearing completely by about12:45 PM. Add on about 25 to 30 minutes or so of workable “civil twilight” before and after and you’ve got about two-and-a-half hours of “daytime” flying, even on the SHORTEST winter day in Kotzebue.
Of course, all this only applies on a CLEAR day. (...you can se forEVER....oops!) If it’s cloudy and/or snowy, you are lucky to get about 1:45 of early morning type “workable” daylight.
Which explains why, when one of the town’s other part-time “gun-for-hire to the highest bidder” charter pilots and full time ops agent for Wien Jerry Knickerbauer used to joke....”BOY I had a TOUGH day. I flew from ‘cain’t see’ ‘til CAIN’T see’ “ it was pretty funny. At least in December.
Well supercubbers (and science buffs all). There’s your teaser to start with. Time for mean ‘n Momma CloudDancer to head on down to BOS Market (like I don’t eat enough chicken every gah-darn week in my CREW MEALS.) I swear. All across America every week hundreds of THOUSANDS of chickens and one half of one steer give up breathin’ to feed me and my fellow airline pilots. And that’s just at MY airline. What on EARTH pray tell will airline management feed us if both mad cow debris AND the bird flu pandemonium thingy hit the good ol’ U S of A at the same time? I shudder to think. Peanut butter and jelly for ALL!!
And BY THE WAY!! WHO made RANCH DRESSING AMERICA’s DRESSING!! I prefer a good raspberry vinagr...oops. SORRY!!
Okay. To recap. December. Short Day. Sun...up/down in the south.
When I return you can bet the story will probably contain....
1. Butt-chilling cold
2. A horny reluctant co-pilot (star of our series, of course).
3. At least one...hell... NUMEROUS FAR violations, I’m sure.
Cloud(ya' gotta love 'im)Dancer