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Thread: Chains and Padlocks

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Chains and Padlocks

    FAIR WARNING READERS There (truly) is no humor in this post.

    I am not even sure WHY I am writing it. But Steve has given me this forum so....


    Somewhere...in the very corner of the dusty attic of CloudDancer’s mind there is a locked closet. The sole contents of which is one footlocker. It is wrapped in multiple heavy chains and padlocked securely and tightly shut. It is rumored to hold CloudDancer’s Alaskan Chronicles Vol. III, the Tragedies.

    Once a year however, on this date the 21st of November....somehow....one memory, one Houdini of a memory, escapes the bonds and shackles and slips out under the locked closet door. Every November 21st....except ONE......since 1978......it showed up with no prompting. I knew it after the first few years. It was all but expected. So....I just.....DEALT with it.

    *************

    SHE WAS....irrepressible....Barely nineteen. Beautiful and vibrant and full of life An Eskimo girl born in a Kobuk Valley village, she was raised Catholic. She was the apple of her father’s eye. Why he even named his airplane after her. GOD she was gorgeous...happy...intelligent and hard working. Captain of her Kotzebue high school cheerleading squad, she was my “baby sister” in all but blood. Her oldest brother had become and remained my best friend from the first time we met the first week I was in Kotzebue. But being a traditional native adult male in a very traditional society, he had a hard time relating to his younger sister’s boyfriend/school/best friend kind of problems. As her own parents even accepted me as “just another kid in the family” the girl I’d known since she was a sophomore in high school often came to me for help and advice.


    HE WAS...just a little younger than me as I remember. 21 and a half...maybe 22...I dunno’. I forget. People, spiritual people, often talk about angels walking among us here on earth. He might have truly been one. Lord knows he FLEW like an angel. With no more than three thousand hours he soared and sailed and wheeled about the arctic skies with a style and grace of a pilot with five times more experience. To top it off he was a Hollywood casting director’s dream of a good looking young leading man. Born and raised in a small town in Iowa this devout Protestant non-smoking tee-totalling cherub cheeked farm boy had come to the arctic to fly along with me and the Gundersons. How the Gundersons found him or he found us I can’t remember. Maybe it was Divine Intervention. We became roommates and close friends.


    SHE had not long ago ended a horrible relationship that was the result of a high school romance with the school’s star basketball player. Off court though the kid was a troubled loser heading nowhere in life that I could see and I as well as her whole family were glad to see THAT end.

    As would be inevitable under the circumstances my flying buddy met my “little sister” and the REST...as they say .....was MAGIC....but talk about FIRE and ICE
    Protestant boy - Catholic....party girl who drinks and SMOKES for heaven’s sake.

    Bad enough he had to spend so much time as it WAS, praying for CloudDancer, his obviously kind and gentle and well MEANING roommate who was constantly losing his battles with the demon alcohol and the demon LUST.....but now....

    He was IN LOVE.....with this....this ...BEAUTIFUL GIRL...who was just as HEAD OVER HEELS in LOVE with him TOO But....she kept....SINNING . I mean she TRIED not too.

    Well, time passed and Ol’ CloudDancer moved to a new outfit in town, down the ramp flying Britten-Norman BN2-A Islanders. It was a pretty good deal so he talks his old roommate into joining up with the new organization too....which wasn’t too hard because SHE worked at the ticket counter....and they could see MORE of each other and when she got off work....she could fly all over the valley with HIM until he was done for the night.

    And they figured out how THEY...the two of them, would come to terms with what they perceived as each others faults...by WORKING TOGETHER....to help each other be stronger...TOGETHER. Of course, this was ONLY after they had broken up and both come to me individually in heart-broken anguished moments to talk to me about how they COULDN’T possibly live the rest of their lives APART.

    SO....good ol’ Dr. CloudDancer counseled HIM....HE who said....I can’t spend my life with someone so.....so.....so unABLE to come to the Lord’s Table. So I asked HIM....is your faith built on a foundation of strong solid bedrock or quicksand. And HE answered “BEDROCK of course ” And I asked HIM “Given THAT fact....is there ANY way time spent with HER is going to weaken your faith?” and received a prompt and emphatic NO in reply. So Doctor CloudDancer then suggested that quite possibly HE should just lay back a little....lay OFF a little and lead by example and maybe THAT’s how the Big Guy upstairs intended for HIM to achieve his goal. And Dr. CloudDancer also told HER; her job was to try a little harder and to cut HIM some slack because his motivation was GOOD.

    Problem solved Two days later SHE runs up to me as she sees me walking the opposite direction down 3rd Avenue , throws herself into my arms gives me a great big hug and sisterly kisses on the cheeks while telling me “I Love You I LOVE you CloudDancer....YOU can fix ANYthing Before continuing on her way to the terminal.

    Weeks and months went by. Their relationship grew stronger and stronger. She mellowed and he relaxed a bit. It was only a matter of (possibly a brief) time before an inevitable marriage would occur. They were DELIRIOUSLY happy...and I was happy for BOTH of them. But ...HOW would the rest of both families deal with it. There were some concerns....maybe ....I guess....in SOME peoples eyes.

    It WAS the 1970's. Eskimo-White, Protestant-Catholic, a “sinner” and a “saint”. Turns out...they would never have to face those battles.

    On a calm, incredibly clear night, with a full GLORIOUS brilliant moon bathing the arctic; their relationship, and my life, were forever changed.....intertwined.....and interrupted with imponderable.....unanswerable questions.

    It was either the Tuesday or Wednesday night before Thanksgiving in 1977, and I’m PRETTY sure it was the night beFORE Turkey Day as I remember pondering how a frozen turkey we were delivering to Pt. Hope in our Islanders AFTER the normal store closing time of 6 P.M. could POSSIBLY be the centerpiece in someone’s Thanksgiving table in little more than 12 hours.

    BUT The weather for the last two to three days had been a CONSTANT sometimes unflyable adversary and we had a couple a THOUSAND frozen birds that had to get OUT of the big hangar walk-in storage freezer and out to eleven villages TODAY So we were flying late into the serene and breath-taking night under a golden-white full moon to get it done.

    I took the next to the last load. Me and the mail bags and the fixings for a couple of hundred Thanksgiving feasts riding in cases and boxes and burlap bags of onions and potatoes and dozens and dozens of frozen pies riding behind me. I knew that HE and SHE would be leaving just an hour behind me, following me to Pt. Hope with the very last load of holiday goodies.

    So I was quite surprised to not even be able to raise HIM on the radio before landing at Pt. Hope a good hour and twenty minutes or so from Kotzebue. But he was there as soon as I called after gaining some altitude climbing out of Pt. Hope on the way home.

    He said....SHE just WOULDN’T let him leave any earlier because, despite being tired, SHE INSISTED that SHE WANTED to go with him But she had been trying to call her father all day and had been unable to reach him.

    Her father had moved to Hawaii and they talked by phone practically every other day regardless of the cost because...well... she WAS the apple of his eye. But for....SOME reason....today...when she couldn’t get ahold of him (her father)...she became increasingly upset after each and every unsuccessful attempt.

    My roommate tried to tell her....’Just go home....I’ll get rid of this last load of stuff....I’ll get back...we’ll have dinner......you can reach your Dad while I’m gone....”

    But SHE would have NONE OF IT. Almost hysterically she INSISTED he wait for over another half hour as she tried repeatedly to reach her father on the phone...which she finally did.

    They talked for only a couple of minutes as she informed her Dad that her pilot/boyfriend was being kept waiting and they needed to get going. By the time she got done with the brief conversation she was LAUGHING. She had actually CRIED on the phone with her Father saying...”Dad...I don’t know WHY I was SO UPSET. It’s CRAZY REALLY. But for SOME reason I just needed to hear your voice today.” And then....they were off for Pt. Hope.

    We passed each other about halfway between Kotzebue and Kivalina and I remember watching them flash by three thousand feet below as we talked. I asked HER what she was going to fix us all for dinner that night when she got back as we were all planing on spending Thanksgiving Eve at her brother’s (my best friend’s) house with many of the family gathered. All blood relations except for CloudDancer and HIM...but by now...he was considered (for the most part) as much family as was I.

    My best friend and I sat in the office behind the ticket counter staring wordlessly at the ceiling.
    THEY had left over five hours ago. It was ALMOST ten P.M. We called on the radio again. Only silence. The only phone in Pt. Hope didn’t work and NOBODY could get anyone to go to the clinic and answer the radio. In Pt. Hope, as in Kotzebue and around the state, people were either already going to bed or making late night preparations for tomorrow’s joyous family feasts.
    An hour after their full tanks of fuel (if indeed they had taken full tanks of fuel) would have run dry, my best friend and I climbed into my Islander with it’s full tanks and launched for Pt. Hope. We were concerned, but not TOO worried. Worst case HE must’ve had to set down on a frozen lagoon along the shore somewhere. It was relatively warm, about 30 or so and no wind.

    We climbed to an altitude of eighty-five hundred feet. The better to see and hear farther. We flew to Pt. Hope, eyes peeled for signal fires or flares constantly calling on a half dozen frequencies one after the other repeatedly over and over and over again until twenty miles from the village I dropped ‘er like an anvil and we went back and forth across the top of the village two or three times wrapping the props full forward and ripping the shingles off the houses. I wanted to talk to the whole damn village

    Yes. They were there. At the appropriate time. SHE was asleep in the right front seat before HE and the Wien agent were even done unloading. Yeah....THEY took off and headed out like normal toward Kotzebue....Okay. Get somebody or a group of people to standby the HF radio to the hospital until I tell you otherwise. Listen to KOTZ for messages. Thanks We’re going back now down low.

    HER brother...my BEST FRIEND maybe in the world....the brother I never had....now rides besides me in anxious silence. I try to get him to fly for a while. He is the ONLY NON-PILOT I know that I would ever trust as much. He learned from his Dad mostly....he just never wanted to be a pilot that much. But he flies pretty good anyway. Not tonight. His attention is riveted outside. He knows we need BOTH sets of eyeballs looking and I don’t need to look at what I’m doing hardly at all to fly this thing.

    We tear along the beach no more than three hundred feet in the air until we reach Cape Thompson where I drop to 150 feet, flip on the landing lights and transition to a sixty-five knot slow flight as we creep abound the base of the usually violently turbulent airspace at the bottom of the seven hundred or so foot cliffs. Tonight it is eerily peaceful and calm. No wind here either. Rare. Extremely rare.

    All along the way home we continue the same. Two hundred feet above the beach. Slowing and dropping down at each frozen lagoon to look for tire tracks on the ice and drifted snow. We climb high only once. OTZ FSS reports no contact. Officially overdue. Authorities being alerted....say OUR intentions.

    We beat up Kivalina from the air and assemble half the town at nearly one A.M. now. Nobody saw anything. They didn’t land here.

    Airborne again we follow the beach all the way back to Susealik. Where ARE THEY?

    We land and are met by a growing crowd at two-thirty in the early morning . I order SOMEone....PLEASE....refuel my airplane and check the oil. HER brother and I are going for coffee and sandwiches.

    Since HER brother managed the hotel at the time...we have an elaborate and WELL stocked kitchen and his wife makes our sandwiches as he and I sit in silence at a table. We KNOW something is really wrong now. HE was just too GOOD a pilot. And the Islander is just TOO SIMPLE an airplane. I mean JESUS The damn Vmc is BELOW the stall speed of 41 KNOTS.

    NOBODY GETS HURT in an ISLANDER That’s why they BUILT it that way

    All these thoughts and more SCREAM silently through both our heads. We sit in silence for more than five minutes. There is a barely audible number of sounds coming from the kitchen as his wife and his youngest sister prepare hot food for us to take if we launch again which we will if something doesn’t turn up when they have the food ready.

    I am staring somewhat numbly into my coffee cup when I hear HER brother say...quietly but with a real sound of certainty in his voice....’Hey Bud I SEE ‘em. THERE they are.”

    And I jerk my head upward and look out the window to the skies in the northwest. Still brilliant. Millions of stars. Where? Where? Where are the nav lights? Where. ‘Where?? ” I cry plaintively, eyes still glued to the window.

    I look back at my best friend but his face too is turned out the window. Then he turns to me and has the most...puzzled expression on his face. He nods out the window and looks outside again and says can’t you SEE them? I look again. Nothing. I turn back to look at HER brother who now turns to look at me. I see a solitary tear rolling down his right cheek.

    He turns and looks out the window and in silence so do I. The moon has shifted to the western skies and a wide sidewalk - like path of moonbeam falls from the moon onto the frozen but not yet snow-covered ice of Kotzebue Sound. The moonbeam comes, I swear to God, straight from the moon across the ice, up the beach, across the narrow two lane dirt road that separates the building from the beach and right into the window to shine on our table.

    HER brother stated quietly and with the conviction of one who somehow knew something I did not yet, “Can’t you SEE them Bud? They’re walking....THERE...in the moonlight holding hands” And I LOOKED. I...looked.....HARD. He said it so surely that I thought I was going BLIND Where WERE they? Had they run out of gas? We missed the plane....they’re WALKING in??
    With a puzzled look.. I turned to face him as he did the same. The one tear now wiped away, he looked me in the eye and said quietly.......”They’re GONE Bud. They’re gone.” And I knew what he meant but he was WRONG. NO WAY No way in HELL We just have to FIND them

    It was over three days before I slept. I flew something around sixty or sixty-five hours of that time stopping only for food, gas and oil, or when I absolutely had to get a little engine maintenance.

    HER brother chose not to ride with me but to co-ordinate things on the ground and ramrod the family’s affairs. He met me every time I landed.

    Finally I needed sleep and I crashed for a dozen hours or so and awaked to find that the owner of my company had “grounded” me for a few days. He gave my airplane to some one else.

    It became the third largest search in the history of the State of Alaska up to that point. Airplanes came from all over the state to join in. As was common in those days (no longer) and back to the start of aviation, every airplane operator across the state who could spare planes or pilots sent them along to help. The government even sent Coast Guard and Air Force C-130 Hercules to search areas far offshore where there was still open water. In our own home Kobuk Valley region EVERYONE had EVERY airplane and pilot devoted to the search for the first four or five critical days. Only an urgent medivac could pull a search plane away from it’s designated search quadrant. The longest and largest official search in the history of the state had been for Carl Ben Eielson in 1929-30 and the second longest and largest was the unsuccessful search in 1972 for U.S. Congressman Hale Boggs. .

    There is SO much more I could write if I could just SIT here any longer. Things that lead up to that flight and things that came AFTER the flight.

    The pure and heart-rending ANGUISH of the owner and his wife. Long time Alaskans and a bush pilot like HER father....they were FRIENDS as well. It was like he had lost his OWN son it practically hurt that bad. [Ironically he (the owner) would come to know THAT pain only to clearly when HIS son dies four years later (at the same age as the boy in this story) flying one of his father’s planes out to St. Lawrence island. (This ANOTHER one of those Houdini-like memories that occasionally escapes the footlocker in the closet too....)]

    The psychic in St. Louis Mo. And the asTOUNDing revelations and insights she possessed.

    Not allowed to fly, I was dispatched by the company stateside for a quick trip to investigate her as well as go to a small town in Iowa. There was a family there who wanted to meet me....the one that HE had so often told them stories of. The one that SHE considered her OTHER Big brother. The one who.....

    So....every November 21st.....I always woke up and asked ....WHY God. Why...without a TRACE........why God........what was I to learn....who was to benefit......DAMN I was So MAD AT GOD for a LONG TIME And every November 21st but one I always remembered what the nuns, and the priests and Momma and Daddy CloudDancer taught me. And I’d say a prayer for HIM and HER. Together forever. Except one.

    Four November 21st’s ago in 2002 I was sitting at what has been my regular bar for the last ten years or so. It’s a long way from Iowa and an even LONGER way from Kotzebue or Pt. Hope Alaska (a place I have irrationally hated every day since that night so long ago.)

    The day had been....I don’t know......WEIRD. I mean....SOMEthing wasn’t right......but I just couldn’t put my finger on it and it had been BUGGING me all day since I’d awakened but....

    WHAT the hell....I can’t figure it out. I’m tired of trying to figure it out. I’m OFF tomorrow and well...I am STILL CloudDancer....so...ergo....it MUST be time to go to the bar...so...I DID

    The “bar” in the bar...is typical and curves around the end to head into the wall providing room for two or three stools on the end along with another seven or so down it’s length.

    CloudDancer as usual was sitting in the very last seat and playing video games trying to set a new high score on a couple of games which he and a friend (my stockbroker actually) often play for absolutely ridiculously LARGE amounts of money since the owners took our dice cup away.

    There were six empty seats at the bar when the old man came in. Two empty ones next to me then a full one and then two more empty ones and so on. Same thing at the other smaller bar over by the mixing well and waitress station. So...wherever the elderly gentleman sat....he would have to sit next to SOMEbody. Banging away at the video game screen clear across the bar, I hadn’t even noticed when he entered.

    I heard the stool next to me being slid away from the bar and a voice said “You mind if I sit here
    young fella?” And with a quick glance away from the game screen I looked and saw a kindly looking fella’ old enough to be my dad. As he was already settling onto the stool I said “Looks like your stool to me sir...how ya’ doin’” as I turned to bang away some more at the touch screen video game.

    He responded by telling me that he had taken his car to be washed next door and just dropped in for one beer which he then ordered from the bartender who had just approached. He sat in silence sipping his beer, but I could feel him watching me as I played the next two games of “QuickMatch”. Like MOST video games...time is of the essence and worth extra points and my pointer finger flew around punching the various squares on the screen almost faster than an eye could follow.

    Then I was out of money and had to stop ‘til the bartender could bring me more change and as I lit a cigarette I heard the old man say to me....”You must punch buttons for a living as fast as you are.” Now being an Airbus A320 (automated/pushbutton all to HELL) Captain this struck my funny bone and I laughed.
    I don’t know why. I seldom...almost NEVER tell a new stranger in ANY bar what I do for a living but I laughed and said he was only half right to which he responded “Oh really. So What do you DO?” And I replied that I flew one of the most automated push button planes around.

    I asked what HE did and had he BEEN here before as I didn’t recognize him. He allowed as how he was from “out of state” and retired. Out for an afternoon drive to give he and his wife some “alone time” he had seen the car wash and pulled in only noticing the bar afterward. But since it appeared it would be a while before his car was ready he thought maybe one beer would go down good. Said he hadn’t had one in months.

    So we started talking and he asked about my background...ex-military??....how did I start flying??....get my experience??.....so forth. And for some reason....I don’t know why.....I TOLD him.

    When I told him I’d run away to Alaska as a youngster to fly he said..... “But I think that’s very DANGEROUS....isn’t it??”

    And I responded with typical CloudDancer bravado and said....well it can be.....

    He asked where I flew and I answered (as I typically do) “Oh...no place you’ve ever heard of...I’m sure...a little village way up in the arctic.”

    He then said.... “Well. Now I KNOW you did dangerous flying.” And I said “Really. You DO??”

    He said.... “Oh Yes. My best friend back home in Iowa.....”(Iowa....Iowa....what’s BOTHERING me about Iowa....I think to myself)

    He continues “We grew up in a small town and we’ve been best friends since grade school. Well....anyway.....his son went up there in the late seventies about as old as you were.....” A ball of ICE begins to form in the pit of my stomach and I look at him intently. He’s no longer looking at me but turned straight ahead, he is looking long ago into HIS past.

    As he continues “I can’t remember the name of the town...it had a FUNNY name...” I’m not even breathing now. I’m frozen as I wait for him to finish what couldn’t POSSIBLY be coming out of his mouth. “But anyway....his son disappeared without a TRACE in a small plane ....him and a girl......my friend...I don’t think he ever got over it.”

    Tears began to well up in my eyes as the man shook his head as to clear an unpleasant memory away. And he turned to me as he realized I hadn’t uttered a word. As he gazed upon me my first tears were overflowing my eyes and starting down my cheeks as I choked and choked and tried and TRIED to swallow my heart which I felt was climbing out of my body SO pushed out by the PAIN of the incredible overwhelming realization that was taking over my mind, body and soul.

    The old man looked at me somewhat bewildered and said “Son. Son Are you alRIGHT ”
    Barely able to breathe I croak out the words.... “What date.....what DATE is this. TELL ME WHAT DAY IT IS ” He said ‘Why...it’s November 21st...Why?”

    I said. “You’re from **** ******, Iowa..AREN’T you ” in an almost accusatory tone. And now it was the old man who was stunned for HE knew as well as I that he’d only said he was from a “small town in Iowa”

    His face told me I was right and as he opened his mouth to ask HOW I continued “Your friend’s name is Mr. *******, he owns a *** ********** in town there and his son who disappeared was **** and the name of the town was Kotzebue....” my tears now flowed freely as the astonished and dumbfounded white haired old man asked the one word..... “How”. And I told him. And then I told him that never....never before in twenty-five years until this day...until THIS November 21st....had I EVER forgotten the day....or what it meant.

    I don’t remember HOW long he stayed. I don’t remember if he ever mentioned his name. Don’t remember if he had another beer. Never saw him again in that bar to this day. He sure seemed as totally flabbergastered and astonished at the “chance encounter” as I was. Was HE an angel? I know I cried. I cried because I had forgotten HIM and HER on that day. The day I was supposed to remember and NEVER forget to say a prayer.

    I didn’t dream it. It happened. Every bit of it..... just the way I wrote it.

    I told you people there would be no laughter here. I am sorry if you are disappointed.

    For now......I can write no more....

    I should’ve started the other story this week but when I sat at this keyboard....I could not make the words come out write. They weren’t funny.

    I called a cab. I’m going to the bar. I need a cocktail....no....make that thirty cocktails and a few shots on the side.

    Tonight....once again, as I frequently do.......I will get knee-walking gutter crawling drunk.
    But at least tonight....I will know WHY..........more padlocks....I NEED more padlocks....


    http://aviation-safety.net/database/...?id=19771121-1


    CloudDancer

  2. #2
    Mad Dog's Avatar
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    Awesome story Cloudy. I've been reading your chronicles for awhile, but haven't posted. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and this was one of those times. Your story truly will touch anyone who has a heart, and I thank you for providing it for everyone to enjoy, and yes, I also believe that angels walk among us.

  3. #3

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    Thanks Cloudy, I still remember them to this day.

    Someday I'll tell the story of the missing aero-commander off SCC and the search. Your "brother" seeing them reminded me of what happened on that search.

    Have good drunk and your always welcome at my house any day......

  4. #4
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    For Mad Dog and MasterRod - and ALL who either endured, skimmed, or painfully crawled step-by-step beside me through this, my annual nightmare.....I give you my sincerest and most humble thanks.

    MasterRod was there. He KNOWS what a lunatic it made me. Like he said once.....and this is what he was TALKing about...."kids...don't TRY this #%$^ at home.."

    For the rest of you faithful Chronicle followerers...never fear.

    Ol' CloudDancer .....WILL recover shortly from this monumental freaking hangover.....shake it off.....and return to writing a more enJOYable sort of story. After all, as I've been told SO many times.....it takes FAR too many MORE muscles to frown than it does to laugh.

    Again, THANK YOU for your understanding and persaverence.

    Keep in touch...ya heah?

    P.S. MasterRod. I shall probably be up for lunch before too long.

  5. #5
    Snert's Avatar
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    Billy Joel
    Only the good die young

  6. #6
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    You got THAT right Snert...

    CD

  7. #7

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    Hey Cloudy. Sorry for your loss man. Having cut my teeth in aviation in the 70's also, the only jobs in aviation were crop spraying. I lost way too many "brothers" as you did. Hang in there buddy, all we really have is our great memories. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  8. #8
    Cub Kid's Avatar
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    Hey CD,

    Thought of you yesterday, as I was doing a couple of OTZ PHO Shuttles. Also thought of A little Munz Northern Islander somewhere along the route. Your friend was very blessed to have you to offer the advice to hook up with that lady, as it undoubtedly made his last months much more interesting.

    Bill

  9. #9
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Thanks for the kind thought Bill.

    "Somewhere along the route" is most likely at the bottom of the waters below Cape Thompson.

    Along about 11 or 11:30 the following morning, just as what little daylight became available to aid us that far NW, I discovered a path in the brash ice (just forming - Slurpee-like thin-crusted ice). Just a short distance out from the cliffs it was pretty much on a direct PHO - OTZ flight path.

    Multiple slow-flight passes as low and slow as I dared go confirmed that it APPEARED to be exactly as wide as my BN2's fixed gear.

    Five years later in 1982 a local villager three wheeling down the beach at Cape Krusenstern came upon a nose gear assembly washed up during a particularly vicious storm the previous couple of days (it was assumed).
    It still had the front tire on it. Remembering the incident he brought it to the authorities in Kotzebue.

    I remember it was reported that the serial number was a one digit MISmatch but we all assumed it was a clerical error, especially after tide and oceanographic experts confirmed that over the course of that intervening period it WOULD have progressed substantially southeastward in that period of time.

    There was only one chance to know really for sure. The pilot's father attempted to contract a commercial submersible in the immediate aftermath of the loss at considerable personal expense; but the submersible company backed out (as too risky) upon determining ice conditions in the area.

    By the following season of open water....for whatever reason.....the operation was no longer contemplated.

    After the nose gear washed up, I came to accept this as my understanding as to WHAT happened....although still at a loss as to WHY.

    It's just SLIGHTLY better than "disappeared without a trace".

    As you probably still do today....we would fill out our flight logs while in cruise. Only our Islanders had no autpoilots. We were dog-tired. It is no more than pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that ****, his girlfriend already asleeep in the seat beside him, may well have nodded off doing his paperwork.

    Be careful up there Bill.

    CloudDancer

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