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Thread: Some days YOU get the Bear....'n SOME days.....

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Some days YOU get the Bear....'n SOME days.....

    Hello Again to all my new friends here at Supercub.org. And once again a very heartfelt Thank Ye' for all the kind responses and Private Messages as well.

    Just wanted to letcha' know that I haven't forgotten about my promised next "mis"adventure to appear under this thread title. I am intending to pen (hunt 'n peck) Part One of this tragi-comedy on Wednesday the 23 around 5P.M. eastern, plus or minus two hours depending on the severity of my hangover.

    Keep the bugs offa' yer glass 'n the Feds offa' yerHey! I'll see ya' here....Wednesday Night!!

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    From the days of open cockpit biplanes in the late 1920's to the 737 combis of Wien and Alaska airlines in the early '70's; no responsibility weighed more heavily on the shoulders of the Great Land's airmen than that of flying medivac flights. Many, many times the airplane was vital in moving someone from an outlying village to a hub, and from the hub to lifesaving hospital care in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Not until the early 1980s were village health aides trained as Emergency Medical Technicians, enhancing their ability to render vital initial basic medical care, almost always under the guidance of a doctor over radio or phone from the PHS hospital in Nome, Kotzebue, Bethel or Pt. Barrow.

    This also was before the days of "organized" medivac standby schedules for the pilots and designated medivac or specially equipped aircraft. So the phones would start ringing all over town as the hospital called the various on demand charter companies and one of the companies could find an available (meaning sober) pilot. So the first guy found...went. And we never complained....really. Oh, occasionally you'd get PO'd when you got out to the village and found out it was one of the extremely RARE occasions when someone was "milking the system" to get a ride into town for him and his girlfriend, having cleverly deceived an innocent and poorly trained (if at ALL) village health aide. But generally you know it is serious business, often tragically serious and time critical. And all TOO often the result of overingestion of firewater. As such, you saddle up and ride pretty much regardless of the weather. My personal rule was that if takeoff was possible, and I could land safely anywhere, ANYWHERE within the range of my fuel capacity, I'd at least go give it a shot. So many times, almost always, we were successful. I would return home to my bed in the early hours of the morning, with a sense of accomplishment, a feeling I had truly made a difference in someone's life that day.

    Sometimes though, it doesn't work out quite right. The injuries are too critical and the patient dies before we get there. Worse yet, is to have the Angel of Death appear on your airplane, as it did mine twice. Once taking the last breath of life from the patient as his grandmother sat beside me in the right seat of the 207 and I kept the engine balls out trying to get to town faster. Just earlier that day, she served me lunch and coffee in her house as I waited for the magistrate. These were my friends, my neighbors and so I always tried. In the midst of all this seriousness, I remember one very rare funny trip, that should bring you a chuckle or two.

    Sit back, relax, and enjoy the story of one pilot held captive by a curious polar bear; and another pilot who couldn't believe what he was hearing.....in ANY language.



    CloudDancer's Law of Medivacs - The suitability or severity of the weather for flying, will AWAYS be in directly inverse proportion to the severity of the injuries and the urgency of evacuation.

    Part 1 -

    The shrill metallic jangle of the phone jars me instantly upright as though an electric cattle prod had poked me in the ribs, and my feet hit the deck beside the bed.

    After 23 hours flying in the last three days, nine of which I had finished only a scant five hours earlier, and almost as many hours spent at the Pondu and the Whale I needed a break, as did my liver. Hence, I had spent the last few hours just re-e-e-LAXing. I enjoyed a rare homecooked meal. Oh...not cooked by me. Hell, I can't boil water. No, it was prepared lovingly by yet another of the adorable and cuddly little local native girls who had set her sights on landing my 21year old butt for the long term......good LUCK!!

    But, so as not to seem ungrateful, after two or three hours of cuddling on the couch, watching our one TV channnel (KOMO -Seattle, six weeks out of date, on videotape), I DID reward her with a couple of hours of toe-curling , sheet-ripping, knee-knocking, back-clawing sex. Well, okay. Maybe it was only an hour....but, okay OKAY!! SO it was 15 minutes! But I'm sure it had to be the best 15 minutes of her life up to that point!! Either way, we had only fallen asleep no more than 45 minutes earlier so I'm none too alert as I grab the receiver from the cradle while uttering a quick silent prayer that it is not one of my OTHER girlfriends and bring the phone to my ear.

    "Hell-Oh." sez me. I hear the boss's gravely vioce on the other end "Hey...kid" and know before he utters another word that it's medivac time. Either that, or his old lady has kicked him out of the house again and he wants me to "co-pilot" him to ANC in our hot cabin class twin (which he's somewhat afraid of and which I, in the ignorance of youth and inexperience, think I'm totally hot in) to go party for a few days with his old cronies. "Co-piloting" from the left seat while he, three sheets to the wind, offers fairly continuous "constructive" criticism from the right seat, and I try to keep him from touching anything too important 'til he generally passes out as we climb to higher altitudes to clear the rocks after passing McGrath. But I digress.

    He informs me to call the hospital, they got a hot one. "Hate to do it to ya' kid, I know you had a long day. I'll cover your morning school district charter so you can stay in the rack 'til sunup or so." That being about 11:15 in mid-January. "Okay boss, got 'er handled" I say confidently, somewhat bouyed by the fact that this means I get to fly the "big iron" tonight. I click the plunger in the phone cradle, obtain a dial tone and call the PHS hospital. After ringing for a good minute or more the phone is answered by Sister Mary one of the Catholic nuns, who at that point in time provided the majority of the nursing manpower for the hospital.

    I say "Hiya. Sister Mary" and tell her who it is. She's relieved. She HATES to fly, but has flown with me a few times already and is comforted by the fact that I too am Catholic, even though I've been somewhat of a slacker lately. Sister Mary apologizes, as they always do, for distubing us at some unholy hour. My sweet little Eskimo lover stirs in the bed behind me. Half awake and half asleep, she now rolls over and curls her body around me, naked breasts pressed against my lower torso, wrapping her arm around my waist in her slumber. I hear Sister Mary saying "I haven't had the chance to see you at Mass the last couple of weeks or CONFESSION for that matter". DAMN NUNS!! I swear they've got a sixth sense, and twelve years of Catholic schooling implanted guilt washes over me as I gently take my sweetie's arm by the wrist and place it on TOP of the covers and silently ask the Lord to forgive me my most recent 15 minutes of sinning. (Amen)


    Part Two coming SOON!! Does the girl get the pilot? Does our hero repent, give up flying, drinking and sex to join a seminary?? Will we EVER get to any AIRPLANE stuff in this story? Inquiring minds WANT TO KNOW!!

  3. #3
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Part Two -


    Little information is known by the hospital folks at this early stage other than the patient is critical, non-ambulatory, and we'll have Dr. Dan going with us along with Sister Mary. This is good. Dr. Dan is a cool guy. Sister Mary says they should be at the airport in about 20 mins. and parts with a "See you shortly", before hanging up.

    Seven minutes later I am bundled against the frigid cold and walking out the front door of my apartment building right next to the airport only about two football fields away from my airplane. Kotzebue has been in the grip of a cold spell for the last couple of days and beneath a brilliant full moon and more stars than I ever knew existed, I walk hurriedly to get to the office my boots crunching on the frigid ice-packed gravel louder than normal. There is barely a hint of a breeze blowing, no more than two knots and this too is unusual. My nose already hurting in the cold of the first two minutes walk and my eyelashes starting to frost over from the warm moist air I am exhaling. I burrow my face deeper into the ruff of my parka and walk faster.

    Rounding the corner to the office I stop to consult the thermometer hanging on the from wall and see by the moonlight that the red needle is almost pegged at the bottom of the round dial, indicating MINUS 28!! MAN!! I thought it wasn't supposed to GET that cold on the coast.

    I must take one mitten off to open the combination padlock securing the building. My fingertips sting as it takes three tries for me to get it right due to the stiffness of the rotary knob. But finally it gives and I am inside in the bright warmth of the quonset searching for my knit facemask to put on and the pushbroom.

    Sister Mary and Dr. Dan pull up next to the airplane and start to get out of the hospital truck, but I tell them they may as well stay in the warm truck for a few minutes until I am ready to go. Quickly I finish sweeping off the frost from the wings, horizontal stab and fuselage and heave the broom toward the office fifty feet away. Engine covers off, and Carter heaters out and all stowed in the two wing lockers of our trusty stead. A quick check of the oil quantity and particularly replacing the dipstick SECURELY requires a one glove off operation again. It would be REALLY a pain if the dipstick weren't secure tonight. Walk around shake the wings and the tail, move the elevator up and down and at this temperature that about wraps up THIS prefight. I drop the lower part of the cabin door only and dive in the cabin leaving the upper portion down to hopefully retain some of the residual heat pumped into the cabin by the two carter heaters installed under the instrument panel to keep the instruments and gyros from freezing up. I hurriedly remove all but the two most forward passenger seats from the seat tracks and push them back toward the rear.

    I raise the top of the door as I come out and turn to drag the excess pasenger seats out on the ground where I stand them back to back. Then I turn and wave at the pickup truck and my passengers emerge to head for the plane as I race to the office to lock the door and then run back to the airplane using one step to leap/propel myself into the aft cabin as my right arm sangs the upper door to pull it down and turnining on one knee I reach out and slide the locking bolt forward. With a sharp tug on the aft bracing cord I both collaspe the steps flat aginst the lower door and close it in one fluid motion and bang the white "T handle" up to lock the whole assembly closed.

    I pull off my parka as I stumble forward to my seat and slide my now mostly frozen knit face mask off so I can truly see what I am doing.

    At these outside temperatures I need to get this beast started and airborne quickly, as the engines will NEVER get any warmer on the ground. Flipping on the Master switch illuminates the instruments in a soft warm glow. Let's see. Cold Engines. Mixtures full forward. I reach up to the overhead with both hands and simultaneously punch all four mag rocker switches to the on position and follow that with two fingers (one each) on two high pressure fuel pump switches. PUSH! Faintly I hear the fuel pumps whirring and look to the fuel flow guages watching this two thin needles sweep up the gauge to the top of their arcs as I count, one-one thousand two-one thousand three-one thousand four-one thousand and snap the pumps off as the word five passes silently through my brain.

    Hitting the left starter causes the blades just forward and to the left of where I sit to start their rotation and simultaneously drastically dims the panel lighting as the batteries pour their precious amps to the starter and ignition. I count as the fouth blade, then fifth blade goes by and then there is a burst of noise and and the blades disappear into the blur of a disc, the interior lighting now noticibly brighter. Five seconds later engine number two has joined it's partner and both are settled into a smooth idle at 1000 RPM.

    Now for the most important switch in the whole damn operation.....and BLAM! the gas combustion cabin heater lights off (for once) as it's supposed to and warm air flows out of the vent and defroster. AllRIGHT. Mr. Big Time Heavy Iron Airplane driver is ready to roll.

    Hey folks. It's supper time so Ah'm a'gonna have to take a chow break here.

    Back with part Three before you know it.....

    CloudDancer

  4. #4
    bushmaster's Avatar
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    great stories keep writing. Cant wait for next part.

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Thanks Ray and Thanks for the PM Randy in NOME!!

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    CD
    Don't you dare stop! I ran over two little old ladies gettin home to read your latest installment.
    Thanks
    Ken

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    It's comments like that Ken that keep me inspired. Well, comments like that and a 40 oz. mug of rum 'n (diet) coke twice an hour.

    PLEASE exercise all due caution and yield the right of way to old ladies, as long as they remain within the crosswalk boundries.....

    I SHALL return....(Gen. McAurthur)

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Part Six -

    I lay motionless in the silent and chilling cabin with my mind racing now. Had somone come out to the plane? Were they banging on the door and I missed it? I mean, I know I sleep HARD, but the loud two cycle engine of any Yamaha or Ski-Doo snow machine pulling up to the plane would've awakened me, even if I HAD fallen totally asleep...or......? WHY did I feel so CREEPY and the hair on my neck STILL won't go down. I am barely breathing as the plane now suddenly seems to lurch a little sideways joined by the muffled sound and vibration of the nosegear sliding sideways, and for the second time in hours I leap upright from sleep, this time bracing my right arm against the cabin floor to prop me up.

    My wide open eyes look out the right rear cabin window into the moolit Arctic night just a few inches from my face.....nothing there!! I snap my head around to look behi.....OH, &%#$!! I scream, and instinctively recoil, throwing my whole body against the wall behind me and twisting the sleeping bag up.

    With what must have been a look of abject terror on MY face; I am now damn near nose-to-snout with a FREAKING POLAR BEAR!! "$#%@" I scream again as I frantically try to untangle my lower extremities from the sleeping bag kicking, flailing, and cursing some more.


    - - SIDEBAR - -


    I'll now pause for a moment dear readers, to take time to offer a little insight to those of you whose exposure to polars bears, if any, has been limited to National Geographic specials on the Discovery Channel.

    Kotzebue, and for 100's of miles to the southwest and the northwest, for decades past, had been globally known as "The Polar Bear Capitol of the World". Game and trophy hunters from dozens of countries, along with U.S. citizens, came here to hunt polar bears until a ban was enacted in the late 1960's. Why my own boss had Roy Rogers himSELF among other Hollywood luminaries as one of his many clients. Over a dozen rugged and generally crazy madmen in Kotzebue (like my boss) earned the majority of family incomes in a few months every year, primarily by taking wealthy clients on guided hunts in search of trophy sized polar bears.

    Now the polar bears meanwhile, not generally being in support of the program, had retreated farther and farther from the killng grounds centered on Kotzebue. And while maybe not the "brightest bulb" in the animal kingdom; they HAD figured out all the loonies with their high-powered rifles hadn't been around for almost six seasons or so. Ergo, the were again roaming freely all along the arctic coast and occasionally (like tonight) showing up in the villages along the coast. From Pt. Barrow all the way south to Shismaref and Wales the huge white bears would lumber into town, day or night searching for food.

    Now would also be a good time to point out that the polar bear has NO natural enemies, meaning it fears ab-so-lute-ly NOTHING in the world of nature. Nor does it seem to have a very discriminating palate, however, like all bears, a meal of warm meat is always welcome. And one last small (but significant to our story) detail. These last two factors combine to give one interesting character trait to the polar bear. Unlike it's other Alaskan relatives the grizzly, brown and black bears, and even the Kodiak; the polar bear is known to, and has no hesitation in stalking a human!! Just another source of good protein!

    Now, possessed of these handy facts; let's return to our story and check in on our hero..shall we?


    (cont'd)

    Aside from further twisting up the sleeping bag while simultaneously failing to release it's grip on my lower body; my rapidy and jerky motions has stirred the interest of the polar bear (I'll call him Fred for the rest of the story mostly because it saves me key strokes).
    Fred (the polar bear) was standing reared up on his hind legs, with his forward paws somewhere above the top of the door and window level. It was this falling against the airplane by what must be at LEAST a 1200 pound bear that had moved the airplane this last time I realize. And I figure the first couple of "jiggles" was Fred rubbing up against it.

    At this point I again freeze motionless. I realize that Fred, with his black wet nose pressing against the left window and tounge lapping a lick or two on the heavy plastic window for good measure, is most probably at this point comparing me either to a large and tasty seal, although in MY discombubulated mind I have a vision of myself as some sort of human "pig in a blanket".

    Well, all Fred knows is there's something probably tasty inside this damn thing and he's just got to figure out how to get the container open as he starts pawing at the upper fuselage with his left forepaw, black nose repeatedly dragging back and forth along the window, further smearing it, as he turns his head first left than right searching for the pop top to this can. Meanwhile I regard the cabin door fearfully.

    Well my Supercub.org friends. It's WAY past my bedtime. We'll have to see if we cain't EXtircate our birdman from between this latest version of a rock and a hard spot tomorrow. Pleasant dreams to all.

  9. #9
    gdafoe's Avatar
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    Woke up in the middle of the night unable to sleep. Go to supercub.org.......NOW I CAN'T SLEEP!!!
    Gerald

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Jeez! I H-A-A-A-TE it when that happens Gerald!!

    Well, if there's nothing good on Turner Classic movies, I suppose you could start gathering documents for your annual bout with the IRS, but that would probably only serve only to aggravate, thereby making it even tougher to fall ball to sleep.

    Some people count sheep. I however have found it much more effective, not to mention satisfying, to try to keep track of what number adult beverage it is that I am currently consuming.

    Generally, about the time I am no longer positive what the current number is....I get SLEEPY! ( This has been known to happen mid-syllable at this very same keyboard). To each his own.

    AH'll be B-A-A-A-CK!! (maybe as Govenor of California....)

  11. #11

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    Clouddancer This is a great story!!!! Can't wait to read the next chapter Maybe you should write instead of driving a bus John

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    Ursa Major's Avatar
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    This story adds new meaning to the line "Spam in a can".
    Mike

  13. #13
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Thank you for the kind words of encouragement John. I've always wondered what I'll do if I lose my medical or survive 'til they kick me out at 60.

    Always thought I'd buy some ol' rat hole seedy type gin joint, put a baby grand in the back corner with a hugh "snifter" for tips. Maybe entertain the patrons in return for a few glasses a' booze.

    Yeah, I can see it in my minds eye......crooning an old Tony Bennet or Sinatra ballad....tinkling on the old ivories.......the well endowed, nubile and gorgeous middled-aged men loving waitresses (HEY! It's MY FANTASY) screaming at me for tinkling on the old ivories again insteada' goin' to the head. Yep.

    'Course that would entail learning how to play the piano...( I can already sing Sinatra and tinkle.....)

    Maybe if I could make a little extra as a writer I won't have to resort to drinking "well" rum in my old age.

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    Close Encounter of the FRED Kind...

    Cloud Dancer,
    These stories are as good as any in Readers Digest or any other periodicals... You and Ernie need to get together for a real nostalgic reunion...
    I spent Three years on Kodiak from May 1975 to May 1978... To this day some of the most memorable years of my life. Thanks for the terrific stories...
    Champdriver

  15. #15

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    you really need to write a book of your adventures, or misadventures!

    Great stuff, glued to the screen waiting for the next installment...

    Matthew

  16. #16
    cubchick's Avatar
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    CloudDancer,
    Great story! I can't wait to read the ending...wondering if it involves a thrown boot full of pee!
    i thought i saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

  17. #17

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    great story

    Cloud Dancer, That was a GREAT story! You really do have a special talent for telling a story, Every bit as good a Peter Hathaway Capstick and his African adventures. Keep them coming please.
    Dave

  18. #18
    Cub Kid's Avatar
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    CloudDancer,

    AWESOME STORY!

    Keep em coming bud.

    Bill

  19. #19
    Anne's Avatar
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    Great story, CloudDancer! And very well written!

    But...you're going to get me fired because your stories keep me on the edge of my seat while I read them during lunch (better internet connection than at home), and I keep reading to the end while I'm supposed to be working.

    These stories should be published, so I can read them whenever (and wherever) I want.

    Anne.
    Baloney is still baloney, no matter how thin you slice it.

  20. #20
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Anne....Anne....Anne....tsk...tsk...tsk

    Of course, on the upside....at least if your boss ever CATCHES you enriching your literary horizons instead of working extra hard to earn your CEO another bonus (or bone-us) as we say at MY airline....

    you should feel free to point out that....well....you COULD say....ummm...
    aw hell.....just tell 'em "At LEAST it ain't PRONO like SOME people we all know....." and leave it at that! Odds are 50/50 he/she has been to SOME website at their desk THEY don't want anybody to know about and will beat a hasty retreat.

    Well, you guys are giving me a swelled head with all these nice comments 'n stuff. I have decided to copyright these and am starting the process.

    I ain't no Hemmingway or Melville, but hey, ya' never know until you try
    and Mom said she'd buy a copy if I got 'em published so that's two sales for sure.

    Keep warm up there in the snow country darlin'. Wish I was there with ya'.

    CloudDancer

  21. #21
    Anne's Avatar
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    Keep warm up there in the snow country darlin'. Wish I was there with ya'.
    Gosh, and we hardly know each other...

    Anne.
    Baloney is still baloney, no matter how thin you slice it.

  22. #22

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    Great story (I've been doing a little back reading) My first (and only) polar bear sighiting outside of a zoo was in Kivalina. I was staying there while doing some surveying up the Wulik River one summer. A polar bear made the rather serious mistake of thinking he could swim past town. Turned out he'd underestmated the range of small arms fire as the entire village (so it seemed ) went down to the beach and blazed away till he was dead in the water, literally. They hooked onto him with a boat and dragged him into the lagoon behind town and had him divvied up and distributed in less than an hour.

  23. #23
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    It is purely amazing to watch how quickly a huge almost one ton polar bear or even a five ton whale, can be reduced to a pile of scraps for the scavangers by an entire industrious little village, isn't it!

    Muktuk!! Ummm...yummy, yummy!!

    CloudDancer

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