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Thread: The Baron and the Bootlegger

  1. #1
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    The Baron and the Bootlegger

    HIYA' EverBODY -

    How ya' been? Sure miss you guys , and hope all is well.
    Our oft-floundering favorite flyer's next aerial adventure will premier here with the first installment posted by 9 P.M. eastern on July 17th.

    THERE! I've given you/me a COMMITMENT! (Mus' be outta' mah MIND! )

    This story will feature

    1. Airsheens
    2. Comely young Eskimo maidens (no nudity)
    3. The Gaslight and Montana Club

    And of course, . So be sure and stop by for the first installment of what promises to be yet another kneeslapper. :P

    Yer' Humble literary servant,

    Cloud(whatatease)Dancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  2. #2
    bobnall's Avatar
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    Keep 'em coming, Cloudy. Been missing you on here.

    All the best.

    Bob

  3. #3
    Torch's Avatar
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    Cloudy,

    Sorry I missed you in Fairbanks. Mrs. Torch and I drove over to the Klondike to partake in some with you but you had left. I was like DAYUM!

  4. #4
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hiya Bob -

    Never fear Bob, I'm never far. I always check in (usually) every day just to keep tabs on you folks and what's happening in the world of SuperCubs.

    I jes' needed to give my writing hand a rest for awhile. Besides which,since I don't want to be makin' stuff up; I has tuh sit around and wait until I REMEMBER something. THEN I gots tuh figger out a way to make it come out FUNNY! :P Otherwise .....who'd show up to read it?

    This baron and bootlegger thing only fell outta' the cracks of my memory bank (along with a few other memories, some funny, some not) after reading about my ol' friend in the bootlegging thread in Cafe Supercub.

    It took a while to start figuring out how to paint the picture in order for you, my friends, to get some laughs out of it. Who knows, maybe it won't even BE that funy. Won't know 'til I start trying to write it tamale. (I'm in a hotel in BOS right now.)

    Anyway, thanks for your kind words. Nice to know ya'll didn't forget me neither.

    CloudDancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  5. #5
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hiya Torch -

    Yeah. Sure sorry I missed you in BearFlanks too. AND I woulda' got to met the missus. Bummer.

    And only AFTER I arrived there did I discover it is no longer the KLONDIKE, but some other name now.

    Oh well. No matter my friend. Got a buncha' vacation days in Sept., and can foresee another trip to God's Country. Let's try the Boatel. I don't think anybody's gonna' change the name of THAT joint any time soon.

    Ya jus' GOTZ to love a bar whose OFFICIOUS listing in the Fairbanks White Pages is "sleazy waterfront bar". Maybe the last real ALASKAN bar left in FAI. You know. Kinda' like PIKES used to be afore it got all immmmmmPRESSED with itself!!

    CloudDancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

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    Chapter One - Hotter Than a Pepper Sprout


    In the summer of 1977 northern Alaska was heating up in more ways than one.

    It had started early in May. The eighth of May to be exact. For that is the day when a number of my good friends found themselves carrying picket signs instead of flight bags. What was destined to become the second longest pilot strike in the history of the Air Line Pilot’s Association began when my friend Red Hotchkins and almost 200 of his fellow Wien Air Alaska airmen exercised their right to self-help under the Railway Labor Act.

    The strike would last for almost two complete years. And for the next 653 days, swatting at mosquitoes in the summer, and breaking small icicles off their beards and moustaches in the frigid winters, they would walk their picket orbits. Every time a Wien Air Alaska jet landed, flown by “replacement pilots” (i.e. SCABS! ) My friends were there to “greet” it with picket signs held high and proudly.

    While not specifically a story about their battle, this story would most likely not have ever come about were it NOT for the fact that the Wien pilots had gone on strike. See, you must remember that in places like Nome, Kotzebue, Barrow, and other even smaller towns; the Wien pilots with their blue, gold and white Boeing 737's were THE lifeline to the outside world. Hence the temporary drastic reduction in service affected everything including our mail deliveries and the freshness and quantity (or lack thereof) of the products on the shelves of Kotzebue’s three grocery stores.

    The business was booming for Kotzebue’s charter companies as well. Now, over three years after the start of construction on the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, petro-dollars were flowing (wildly) all over the state. Even the smallest far-flung villages such as Kobuk, Birch Creek and Atqasuk (at-kah-sook), each with populations of less than 100 people at the time, supplied workers for the high paying pipeline jobs. On many occasions the workers might actually make it ALL the way back to their home villages with some money still left in their pockets. This was no small accomplishment given the temptations of Anchorage and Fairbanks in those days.

    Resembling more of a cross between Tombstone and Dodge City or, as some would say, Sodom and Gomorrah, the big villages on the banks of the Chena River and the Cook Inlet offered every possible diversion designed specifically to separate pipeline workers from their hard earned dollars.

    One couldn’t walk ten consecutive steps down the sidewalk on “Two Street” in Fairbanks or 4th Avenue in Anchorage without being on the receiving end of yet another sales pitch. Any hour of the day or night, summer or winter, deals were on the sidewalks to be made. “You need a watch? How about a little somethin’ special to smoke....fresh from MAUI dude!” And those two girls over there ...hey....they’re SMILING at me! They must LIKE me. Oooooh. I bet they’d like to go inside somewhere and warm up a little and get a .......THUNK!....(darkness).

    Yeah in those days of $100 table dances......no...that’s NOT a misprint! You could wave a fifty all night long at the Bush Company and attract nothing more than the cocktail waitress. You want a TABLE dance you’d best be waving a C-note. (Two would tend to get you immediate attention). And remember, this was 1977!

    But, as I said on the occasions where the village pipeline workers actually made it past the last obstacle (the airport bar ) and successfully arrived back in Kotzebue with money, that is generally where it got spent. Before heading back to Noorvik, or Deering or Noatak it was off to the local stores in Nome, or Kotzebue, or wherever to buy (depending on the season) a brand new three wheeler or snow machine. Maybe a sofa or even a refrigerator!

    Cabs and delivery pickups would pull in and out of our parking lot all day dropping off CASH customers ready to head for the villages and surprise their waiting families. We were flying just about as much as we could stand. Busy busy busy.

    And then there was the weather itself.

    In June that year the temperature in Kotzebue hit 63 degrees! There were several days, about half the month, 55 or HIGHER! And the tourists would be bewildered by the sight of a skinny liddle boy (me) clad only in cut off jeans suntanning my brilliantly WHITE body under the Arctic sun laying atop the wing of my Cessna. But after month of frigid temps close to zero, this FELT like sun tan weather to ME, and I didn’t care WHAT they thought.

    July was going to be a record breaker too with temps soaring into the EIGHTIES in Kotzebue. And one other significant event was soon to bring REAL heat to the summer of ‘77. But it all lie ahead in the not to distant future as Tim Lay, the SENIOR Gunderson pilot, and I hoisted our second cuppa’ joe one late morning in the Gunderson Flying Service office. It was the third week of June 1977.
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  7. #7
    Matt 7GCBC's Avatar
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    Here we go again. Just when I thought I had the internet pilot porn thing under control. Back to logging on several times a day to see if Cloudy posted another chapter....

    Glad to see you posting more prose. Thanks for sharing.
    Matt

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hiya' Matt -

    YOU-U-U-U-U FUNny!

    Yes. I know the Chronicles can be addicting. I've never really been referred to as "pilot porn" before. I guess it's O.K. just so long as nobody starts calling me "Hedgehog" (*)

    On the upside "clicking on to " www.clouddancer.org DOES NOT result in any viruses infecting your computer or the FBI showing up unexpectedly on your front porch.

    By the way, the next installment will be up tonight.

    Cloud(hangin'ten)Dancer

    (*) If you girls DON'T GET the reference...it's probably a GOOD thing!!
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  9. #9
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Chapter Two - Show Me the Money


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    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  10. #10
    SteveE's Avatar
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    AND THEN.......Cloudy went to sleep on the puter.

  11. #11
    RaisedByWolves's Avatar
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    Cloudy, when you going to finish the second series in your book... I just finished the first one, and now i cant wait to hear more!

    Tom

  12. #12
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hiya Steve -

    Are you SPYing on me?! Haw haw! Oh ye of little faith.

    No. The sitchumation is this. It's been so long since I've done any serious scribin' the gears are a little ...um....RUSTY. So I figgered a little lubriCAtion wuz in order. Hence, in the interest of producing the best POSSIBLE quality product for YOU ( my favorite peeps ) I went out to mah favorite full service ...um....LUBE joint 'n got "tuned up".

    The results should be evident in a few hours.

    Hiya' Tom -

    Sent you a PM

    CloudDancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  13. #13
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Chapter Two - cont'd

    Once inside Dan or Rod would consult the store receipt for the itemized prices paid in Fairbanks and instruct the kids how to price the merchandise. Most times just doubling the Fairbanks price would usually leave a five or ten per cent, if not larger discount from the prices in Kotzebue’s three “major” grocery stores. And since the stores in the outlying villages had even LARGER markups, if they had the same items at all, business was always brisk. Particularly since many of the families would always travel with one or more of their young children.

    Even upstairs in our “crew lounge” we could hear the plaintive shrill wails of the young children who were waiting to embark in their winged taxicabs for home. “M-O-O-OM! BUY ME! MOM! BUY ME CANDY!” “MOM! BUY ME! I WANT POP! MO-O-O-OMA-A-A! BUY ME!” Thus ensuring decades of work for Public Health Service newly minted dentists.

    But even more amazing was the composition of flying equipment that now called the Kotzebue ramp “home base”. All five of Kotzebue’s on-demand Part 135 operators were investing in newer and updated equipment. There were even some brand spanking new Cessna 206's and 207's scattered among the various operators as the flow of oil money allowed for the very first time a comfortable buying climate.

    After decades, since the beginning really, of most Alaskan aircraft operators living hand-to-mouth, hoarding scarce cash, THIS was Nirvana! No longer constrained by having to try to make all their summer flying receipts carry them through slow winter flying months as well, operators could finally begin to run like a real business. There was money for spare parts, airplane loan payments, payroll and...MONEY LEFT OVER! :P

    Hoarding cash, “partial” paydays, and being grounded for weeks because we couldn’t afford to buy a cylinder were now just memories we could laugh at, forever we hoped.

    From our perch above the continual mayhem downstairs we could gaze out southward over the Gundersen ramp and survey our fleet of various workhorse aircraft. One seemingly for EVERY job. Rod had acquired an almost new Cessna 207 to add to brother Dan’s slightly older model. It was all that remained of Dan’s former hodgepodge fleet and he operated it on Rod’s certificate although we all flew it. A ZIPPY new Cessna 185 which was fast becoming MY favorite single. There were three recip twins. One was a German built Dornier SkyServant and the other two were Beechcraft. N624Z was a Twin Bonanza (often called the “T-Bone”) which I first flew for Dan a few years earlier. This reliable and rugged plane was the forerunner of the Queen and thereby the KingAir series of Beechcraft. With a big bench seat in front seating three across and a big “throwover” yoke, this (to me then) HUGE airplane was rock solid with a load in it at only 85 MPH on approach. It’s Airworthiness Certificate was dated three days before my birthday in 1954.

    But it was November 966 Mike that stirred my juices just as quickly as the comeliest young maiden in any village anywhere.

    Resplendent in a brilliant virginal white base coat, she sported horizontal trim lines of evergreen and gold. She was HOT. She was SEXY. She was obviously a fast mover and a pilot couldn’t be in a more warm embrace than when wrapped in her confines. And she belonged to one man alone. The boss. Rod Gunderson. I wasn’t even allowed to approach that babe with a GAS HOSE! And on the extremely RARE, VERY few occasions where due to SOME circumstance or another Rod was backed into a corner and forced to let brother Dan “dance with his lady”; Rod would pace back and forth in complete irritated consternation until he hear Dan’s voice on the scanner calling Kotzebue flight service for traffic advisories.

    Then his face would be glued to the western or easternmost window depending on which runway Dan was to land on. Only after watching Dan’s landing would he then scamper downstairs and out on the ramp to await Dan’s arrival and begin a complete and thorough inspection from nose to tailcone. As I’ve detailed elsewhere in the Chronicles, Rod and Dan have two completely different flying styles and Rod considered his brother to be a great pilot but somewhat ham fisted and abusive with the aircraft. One time the two of them locked themselves in the back of the Dornier and....well...I don’t know if any actual BLOWS were thrown, but that big plane was rocking on her struts a couple of times. Inside Dan and Rod were screaming at each other. Seems Rod didn’t like the way Dan was goosing the geared Lycs while swiveling the aircraft on her tailwheeel and parking her. Rod owned the DoorKnob too!

    Yeah. I figured I was NEVER gonna’ get to fly the Baron . Oh well. I was never gonna’ nail a Playmate either, but that never stopped my from buying Hef’s magazine every month!
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  14. #14
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Chapter Three - Only Three Things Count in THIS Bidness

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    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  15. #15

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    Ahh. Always the cliffhangar.... More!!!!

  16. #16
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Chapter Four - Your Tax Dollars at Work


    Well, yet another quiet late summer morning was upon us as Tim and I started our second cup of coffee each. The “Gunderson Airline” Beech 99 had departed only a few minutes earlier with 16 of 19 seats filled. Capt. Jim ably assisted in the right seat by the Gunderson’s newest and most junior pilot Ross, a 21 y.o. kid fresh up from the states. The Gunderson airline operation was now in it’s fourth week of operation.

    I actually don’t remember if I was trained at all for the 99 operation. If I was I certainly can’t remember it. Of course, Rod and Jim were both trained as Captains. And maybe also Tim. Or maybe Tim was trained for the right seat.

    But I remember I was “held back” if you will, so as to help cover all the other regular business in the day to day charter world around the Kobuk Valley. And by the same token, Ross was trained and planned as the almost totally full-time co-pilot due to his relative lack of overall experience but mostly because he did not possess an O.A.S. card, and therefore could not, if needed, fly for the government on some charters.

    Ross had only been in the country for a few months and still did not meet minimum time qualifications to hold the O.A.S. card even though he flew like an angel. Pure and simple. He was awesome. But like me he was just so dang happy to be airborne in anything any TIME that he didn’t even mind going back and forth almost every day to Anchorage.

    I mean, after all. They got to hang around and drive around the big village for a few hours every day until time to depart back to Kotzebue in the early evening. Plus getting to spend all your flying time with two guys (Rod and Jim) who were considered some of the best ever in bush flying was an opportunity. Ross’ enthusiasm and personality were helping and cheerful beyond measure. It would be devastating to all of us that we were destined to lose him in only a few short months under mysterious circumstances. (See “Chains and Padlocks”)

    O.A.S. stands for Office of Aviation Services. It is yet another bureaucracy under the U.S. Department of Interior.

    Apparently the federal government doesn’t trust the federal government. (Join the crowd guys.) And among it’s many “services” O.A.S. provides flight checks and exam for those pilots who wish to fly personnel on various government contracts. To make it PERFECTLY clear, the Department of the Interior apparently doesn’t TRUST the Department of Transportation’s certification of my abilities.

    Therefore, any company wishing to provide flying services must have their pilots endure additional check rides from O.A.S. pilot inspectors, even if you just took one with the F.A.A. in the same damn plane YESterday! And the operator themselves must endure a facilities base inspection from the O.A.S. which, when observed appears identical to the one we just endured (and passed) LAST month from the F.A.A. FAI FSDO last month. Kinda’ makes you wonder who gives the O.A.S. check pilots THEIR check-ride don’t it!

    So with Ross and Jim still climbing to cruise on V498 to Galena and points beyond, Tim and I are settling in to enjoy the relaxation and silence of a summer’s morn before the days workload starts trickling in around noon. I mean, this IS summer and as a general rule nothing really stirs much before noon. In fact, were you to show up about now (10:30 A.M.) in any of the outlying village in the valley you’d be hard pressed to find anybody stirring. But get there at 3:30 A.M. and the whole TOWN will come out to greet the plane.

    That’s just the way it is in village life in the arctic in the summer. And Kotzebue, after all, is JUST a big village. So the phone ringing this early actually slightly startles both of us.

    Tim being closer grabs it and I only get to listen to one side of the conversation. But it definitely sounds INTERESTING. As he holds the receiver to his ear and nods and listens after the first one or two monosyllabic answers, he finally covers the mouthpiece with his free hand and says quietly in answer to my inquiring glance “B.L.M., Fairbanks.” Oh Boy! And NOW they are talking about three DAYS!! OhboyohBOY!

    Tim now is giving information about which aircraft are available and reaching for the “scheduling book”. Typical of most bush operations it is the oh-so-familiar beauticians appointment book found in finer (and lesser) hair salons nationwide. The only drawback to the book is the pre-printed times only go from 8 A.M. through 6 P.M., but hey. That’s what the white space above and below the lines is for right?

    Quickly flipping the next page Tim confirms that not one, but TWO O.A.S. qualified planes and pilots are available for three days starting this afternoon. More conversation and scribbling of notes follows until after five minutes Tim has gleaned all the necessary info. As he hangs up the phone he looks at me visibly salivating :P in the seat across the table about to BURST with curiosity.
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  17. #17
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Chapter Four - cont'd


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    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  18. #18
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Pheeeew! Wow. Alla' that SCRIBIN' in such a short time after a couple months break. DAY-um. BOTH a' mah typin' fingers are wore plumb to the KNUB!

    I guess it's a good thing I gotta' go burn a few gazzillion $$ worth of kerrysene for a couple of days. Headed to the hot an' humid southest. But at least you can get some good grits and collard greens in ATL and CLT!

    An' I got THREE, count 'em THREE trips to Alaska on my August schedule.

    I may finally be learning HOW to use this computerized bidding system after about eight years!

    C-ya'll in a few days. An' when I get back we'll see how our hero deals with forced abstinence....in more ways than ONE!!

    Cloud(smoke'emifya'got'em)Dancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  19. #19
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    We-e-e-ell...HECKfire!

    I wuz a'sailin' along purdy good on this.....uh.....Baron an' Bootlegger thing durn it. The ol' (creative) juices were a'flowin' an' mah typin' fangers wuz a'FLAILin' furiously back 'n forth acrost this ol' key board when all sudden-like.....KLAAANK !!

    Everthin' just sorta'....I dunno'....HY-dro-locked er sumthin'. Plus I been a' flyin' alot too. Even had to get outta' bed at oh-three-thirty local fer some simulated aviating this morning.

    'Course that's much the same as me crawling outta' some hotel bed at 0530 A.M. local on the east coast somewheres and then flying back out here to the desert. No surprise I wuz about equally "on the ball" in the stimulator this morning. It WEREN'T pretty, but we stayed in the GREEN ZONE. This pretty much took away all my enthusiam for today's planned contribution to the story.

    An' since I hafta' commence my next four-day-torture-test early tamale ..... I hereby give Chronicle followers semi OFFICIAL NOTICE, that further scribin' on this story is now scheduled to re-commence on July 30th or 31st fer sure........most likely......probably anyways.

    If by chance, you've only recently joined the "Chronically Addicted" and have yet to explore many of the other threads on this forum, and you find this message to be somewhat....um...AGGRAVATING , I apologize.

    Take the time to explore. Long time readers KNOW I never leave you hangin' for TOO long. Right Guys??

    Besides. Any REAL airplane-minded person with free time for the next few days will either be at New Holstein(*) of Oshkosh or both, thereby negating (temporarily) their need for a Chronicles "fix".

    CloudDancer

    (*) This is an annual multi-day religious pilgrimage to the Mecca of SuperCubdom where the unwashed masses are allowed to engage in various secret bacchanalian rites paying tribute to the WorldWide Grand Poohbah of SuperCubbers Everwhere and a large animal is sacrificed. in his honor. One is roasted and the other is "toasted" I'm told. As the participants become more and more um....."frenzied" by the day (nite) it becomes more and more common to get reports of a large man in an Aloha shirt with a brown paper sack over his head trying to sneak into the tents at night and make off with one of the few female revelers.

    His presence has never been independently confirmed , however.

    well my fellow Chronicle lovers. .
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  20. #20
    SteveE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CloudDancer
    . As the participants become more and more um....."frenzied" by the day (nite) it becomes more and more common to get reports of a large man in an Aloha shirt with a brown paper sack over his head trying to sneak into the tents at night and make off with one of the few female revelers.

    His presence has never been independently confirmed , however.

    well my fellow Chronicle lovers. .


    Hmmmm... Maybe I can put my aloha shirt on, and a brown sack on my head. Sneak to a few tents, try to come out unscathed. AND Cloudy will get the blame.. Hmmmmmm.

  21. #21

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    I tried. Didn't work. 'Course I was after some of dem c-u-t-e guys wit airplanes, but that shouldn't matter, 'cept the rumors may sound a little strange now.

    Cloudy, check yer PMs, a little temptation awaits.

  22. #22
    Speedo's Avatar
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    Cloudy is overdue on the final installment(s) of this chronicle. Time to issue an ALNOT and alert SAR! Dispatch rescue parties to all Honolulu watering holes immediately.
    Speedo

  23. #23
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    Chapter Five - Hippies 'n Skeeters

    Sure enough, no more than twenty minutes after the mid-day Wien machine from Anchorage had plopped down on runway 08 our passengers strode through the downstairs doorway into the waiting room. Tim and I looked up from trying to pick out a couple of candy bars to add to our overnight gear to check them out.

    Both in their late twenties at the oldest made them not too much older than Tim and I. They were dressed in the ubiquitous BLM obscenely bright yellow woolen shirts and the olive drab green pants. With bandanas tied around their necks and long hair (one guy was wearing a PONYtail fer’ crying out loud.... ) I figured them fer....um.......HIPpies......to be polite about it. But no matter, this being the “tolerant” phase of my life, I pretty much accepted that fact that some folks do things I don’t rightly ah-PROVE OF But, it’s O.K. as long as I’m not around. Besides, they seemed like real nice fella’s after only a couple of minutes of chatting with them.

    We discovered that their equipment was going to take a truck to haul down from the Wien terminal and eventually would fill both the 185 and the 207 to capacity almost. They had each brought with them a four-man tent (olive drab naturally) in which they expected to spend the next two nights at least. A half dozen cases of C-rations, enough different radios to equip a fairly large troop of Boy Scouts and a portable hand-crank powered electric generator to power same. It was obvious as soon as I saw all the gear that I had discovered the NEWEST version of “Army Surplus”. The “C-rations” indeed were dated vintage 1970. They had probably seen combat.

    Tim smirked at me and gave me a sly wink as he told HIS passenger that there would be no sleeping out in the tent necessary in Kiana, as he was sure he could secure comfortable INdoor lodging for the both of them. He could barely hold his laughter in check. :P Oh, and we’ll have PLENTY of electricity too, not to worry

    Whereupon the dude destined for Candle along with me turned to ask me if he could look forward to the same. I told him that the entire town and all it’s structures were now owned by two old gold miners who came up from the states every summer. We would need to consult with them upon our arrival at the Candle airstrip. I figured they MIGHT be accommodating, even though I knew that they, like my boss Rod, weren’t exactly big fans of the U.S. Government either.

    Each Blimnite also carried a portable typewriter and at least three or four file cabinet drawer sized cardboard boxes fulla’ all kinds of paperwork. And when I commented that it’s seemed like a lot of um....STUFF for a three day trip my guy responded that the three days was just an initial estimate. It might possibly be extended if conditions were suitable and activity warranted it. At this, Tim and I turned to each other an silently rolled our eyes. I know that simultaneously and independently we had both just gone “cha-CHING ” in our minds.

    By six P.M. Tim and his Blimnite and I and mine (whom I shall now name George) had mounted our trusty winged chariots and had the engines warming at slow idle as, one after the other, we filed one way flight plans with Kotzebue Flight Service.

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

    Hiya Speedo (et. al) -

    Ho-KAY. Call the Civil Air Patrol and cancel the S.A.R. I don't wanna' expose those young , impressionable KAY-dets to the Hideaway Lounge and Honolulu Tavern just yet.

    Alright....I'll WRITE!

    Cloud(sheeshyou'dthinkI'dneverleftya'hangin'before )Dancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

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    Chapt. Five - cont'd

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    Chapter Five - cont'd

    Upon finally convincing my seemingly UNenthusiastic white and orange-creme striped Cessna that it really DID belong in the air, I climbed to my normal 12 to14 foot flap retract altitude. And with the indicated airspeed now passing 82 knots, I reached over to the right lower part of the instrument panel and slapped the tan plastic airfoil shaped electric flap selector lever to it’s uppermost limit. Immediately my right hand dropped to the center pedestal mounted elevator trim wheel for a couple of quick nose up half spins, as the airplane tries to sink slightly from the loss of the additional lift provides by the flaps in takeoff position.

    A gentle pull aftward combined with a slight downward pressure on the right hand side of the yoke has me immediately climbing out of ground effect and away from any possible small wake turbulence the 185 may have left behind her. I clear the bluff on the southeast side of the lagoon by a good 150 feet climbing at all of 500 feet per minute indicating a good ninety knots. Minutes after Tim has announced his departure I finally get a hand free to grab my Telex and mash down on the ridged black button in the center of the microphone. “Kotzebue radio, Cessna 1712Uniform copied all and we’re airborne. TIME check please....”

    Five minutes later I am crossing Riley Wreck, all of twelve miles from home, struggling through 2500 feet MSL intending to climb to 3500 feet. My rate of climb is down to 400 FPM. Of course, about then I find Tim on one twenty-two point nine and he cheerfully reports he is cruising in the cool air at fifty-five hundred feet already halfway across Kobuk Lake. Dirtbag....

    Tim and I yak back and forth for the next ten minutes. Having finally staggered up to 3500 feet MSL I lower the nose and let the speed build before pulling back the power to our normal “23 squared” cruise power settings. I then reach down to close the cowl flaps hoping for another two or three knots on the airspeed indicator. When the airspeed settles at 122 indicated I lean forward and look up and to my left for the airvent mounted O.A.T. indicator. I then fiddle with the liddle whozi-whatits black plastic rotating ring mounted on the face of the airspeed indicator. Moving the ring ‘til the correct numbers line up gives me a true airspeed of....one hundred twenty-SEVEN knots! Boy we’re really PEELIN’ the PAINT offa’ this baby ain’t we?

    I ask Tim what he’s “truing” at and he comes back with “Oh, only about a hunnert forty-two or so.” :P Yep. That 185's a stallion, alright. Shortly Tim reports he is almost withing radio range of Kiana, and has to go cancel his flight plan and start down. He wishes me a good evening and reminds me to be sure and use a LOT of mosquito dope. I bid HIM a far LESS cheerful farewell and tell him I have a few wishes for him as WELL, that I shan’t pass along right now! He signs off laughing and I switch my radio back to 122.2 just in time to catch his cancellation.

    Meanwhile George has opened a topographical map, which appears to me to be very foreign. Having spent all my life looking at aeronautical sectionals and W.A.C.s, my first glimpses of topographical maps is somewhat disorienting. He turns and ask “Are we going straight to Candle” with obvious doubt in his voice.

    I reassure him immediately that indeed we ARE going to Candle, but NOT in a straight line, as a straight line would have us too far from land should the engine fail. We are (temporarily) on a straight course to Buckland, from which we shall diverge about halfway down the Baldwin Peninsula, in just a few more minutes. Meanwhile our conversation again turns to Candle and it’s miner-owners. George, being from Idaho has, of course, never been there and I spend the next few minutes describing the old gold mining town and as much about it’s history as I’ve learned.
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  26. #26
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    Chapter Five - cont'd


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  27. #27
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    PHE-E-E-W !! Well. That's jes' about e-e-NUFF scribin' for my first day back in my writin' chair.

    I know it's not knee-slappin' funny, but trust me....that part will arrive later in the story.

    Ennywho...once'd agin' Yours Truly finds myself with my back to the wall, having procrastinated to the point where I'm gonna hafta' do some serious writing for the next two months to finish this and get Volume III put together for the publisher by mid-January.

    I hope you folks enjoy today's meager contribution to the "Chronicles".

    I have been very busy with my "real job", and have spent actually MUCH time and effort on Chronicles-related activities. Some day, a few months from now, I hope to pleasantly surprise all of you with the fruits of my efforts.

    I look forward to resuming the frequent banter with all of you that makes this such an enjoyable undertaking my friends.

    I feel like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. I need an OIL can fer' my typin' fangers!! :P

    CloudDancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  28. #28
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    Chapter Five - cont'd

    A s-l-o-w half-turn upward on the elevator trim wheel gently noses over my Cessna 207 into a 500 foot per minute descent. With the nose now pointed one to two degrees below the horizon the skinny white needle on the airspeed indicator starts to creep slowly clockwise around it’s dial. I sit motionless staring straight ahead watching as the upper portions of the Kewalik River appear around the bend just south of the low hills north of town. No more than six miles ahead I spy the first of the dozen to fifteen wooden buildings that remain from Candle, Alaska’s heyday as a booming gold mining town in the 1910's and 20's. I adjust my course about three or four degrees left so that I can make my “arrival announcement” (low pass) in a right bank so George will get a good view.

    It’s been two minutes now since our descent started. This puts us at 2500 feet and the movement of the ground past the airplane is becoming slightly more apparent as the noise made by the fuselage ripping through the placid air has also gradually grown louder. Reaching for the rounded black plastic throttle I wrap the palm of my right hand around it. Oh so gently I coax it aftward no more than a half inch, for I know without looking that the manifold pressure has risen to 24 inches and must be reduced.

    My eyes, now back inside momentarily, first drop to the airspeed indicator and note with some minor satisfaction that the airspeed has (temporarily) increased to all of one hundred thirty-NINE knots indicated. I watch it as the quivering needle struggles to center itself dead center over the small white mark on the indicator’s face reading 140. But alas, merely a HALF a knot short the needle begins a retreat to 138 in response to my slight draw back on the power. And a glance at the manifold pressure gauge, as expected, again shows that tiny white triangular pointer just a royal red hair below 23 inches.

    I’ll repeat the exact same drill in just another two minutes, again another thousand feet lower. But by that point, within a mile or two of town, my attention shall remain outside the airplane as I visually plot and inspect ahead my intended path across the top of town. All Mark One eyeball manually plotted and executed, I won’t see the inside of the airplane again until pulling up into a chandelle after inspecting the runway, which lies beyond and to the southwest of town about a half a mile.
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  29. #29
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    Chapter Five - cont'd


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  30. #30
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    Chapter Five - cont'd

    “Yeah. Rotten liddle bastiges.....” my muttered reply trails of as I try to reach behind George to get at the seat back pocket of his seat. “Hey George” I continue “lean forward a bit will ya’?” And, as George complies I manage to push his seat back forward enough to wedge my hand in between it and the piled up boxes of C-rations which are behind both our seats. Fishing my hand into the seat pocket my fingers close quickly around my target. ‘”Ah-h-h HA!. GOT IT!” I exclaim and George looks at me quizically. “Meet your new FAvoritest cologne George. You’re gonna’ drive the females WILD with this one. The female SKEETERS, that is” I say with a hearty laugh as I present George with a can of Deep Woods Off.

    George returns both the laugh and the can as he responds, “Oh, no thanks.” They give us some real good stuff to use as he fumbles in his pants pockets. He extracts a small clear plastic vial about the size of a roll of dimes with a black plastic cap. Inside is a clear very watery appearing liquid. George continues “Yeah they used this stuff in Vietnam I guess. Don’t know what’s in it but they say it’ll keep ANYthing off ya’. As a matter a fact....they actually say don’t OVER apply it. You wanna’ try some.?” I decline and begin hosing myself down from the Deep Woods Off spray can while he starts applying his stuff, which I recall had the vague scent of something like turpentine.

    Our attention is drawn outside by a loud “Bang!” off to our right and we both whip our heads that direction just in time to see the nose of an old vintage 1940s Chevy truck bouncing up the rutted and potholed dirt road leading to town. Obviously at least one of the old miners was not working the mine and had been drawn out by our low pass. “Well. Let’s see how these fella’s feel about having a couple of neighbors for a few days.” I say as I pop open my door to be greeted by the notable buzz of our winged friends who immediately swarmed into the plane in droves.
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  31. #31
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    Chapter Six - Lightning's Striking Again...and Again...and Again


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  32. #32
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    Hiya EverBODY -

    Well I can see by the view count that a few of "the faithful" are dropping by to check out the new posts, and for that I am grateful. Hopefully the word will spread soon that I've laced up mah scribin' boots again after this long hay-I-tus , an some more ol' friends will drop by.

    BUT! fer' now..... well, I has to go back to my regular job [boring (what an appropriate word ) holes in the ozone again] tamale.

    On the UP side the 1st leg is to Anchor-ville for a 40 hour layover, so that'll get me a Sunday morning Gwennie's stopin.

    I shall return to swattin' misquitoes (and other mayhem) here on the 19th, okay....

    Cloud(tryin'togetthefeelin'again)Dancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  33. #33
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    I guess we will all be waiting for your return I sit here at the WAD this morning with a ton of chores but spent my time with this CD story from my Favorite scribe............With Christmas coming when should we expect volume 3 of the Chronicles?????? :P Hopefully volume 2 sold enough copies to keep you going on volume 3 and enjoying your favorite past time and of course
    FMD
    PS for those of you that have not purchased Vol.1 and or Vol.2 please do so and hand them out as sets for Christmas to your pilot friends so we can all see Vol.3
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a well preserved body but rather to slide in sideways, well used up proclaiming "WOW What a Ride"

  34. #34
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    Hiya F.M.D. -

    S'wonderful tuh hear frum ya'! And I ah-PREE-she-ates your endorsment of the first two volumes of "CloudDancer's Alaskan Chronicles" (TM) an' I shore hope people take your suggestion tuh HEART. Since books = entertainment and entertainment = discretionary spending; things have been pretty darn slow on the book-selling front for the last couple a' momths. I'm hoping a few folks WILL want them for holiday gifts.

    Remember folks.

    The "Chronicles" require NO ASSEMBLY

    The "Chronicles" require NO BATTERIES and..................

    The "Chronicles" are ready to entertain you the moment you open them.


    As fer Volume Three, "The Tragedies" ; it is in the works still planned for a May 2009 release. As a matter o' fact, when I next get done with "The Baron and the Bootlegger" I will be starting on one of the Vol. III stories here next.

    CloudDancer


    www.clouddancer.org
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  35. #35
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    Chapter Six - cont'd

    Two hours later, bellies full of some of the best pot roast, gravy, and homemade sourdough biscuits I’d ever eaten , George and I are bouncing along in the Chevy truck back out to the airstrip. This, despite our plea to Crusty that we be allowed to walk back to the strip in an attempt to shake off our oncoming post feast lethargic food coma. Damn. That Luthor can cook. And over two huge plates of pot roast apiece, I and our hosts got better acquainted all around.

    Pleased with what they learned of George, Crusty and Rhiney decided that not only was BLM welcome to work out of Candle for a few days, but that the bunkhouse (sleeping up to 10 persons comfortably) would be thrown in and they’d even provide a morning and evening meal service so the good government workers wouldn’t have to exist solely on C-rations. Although THAT almost caused a breakdown of the whole deal.

    Typical of the two old codgers, (who I think now, were far RICHER than I might have ever imagined) they insisted on taking no recompense for their hospitality as George had indicated that the group would probably never grow beyond a dozen and would be around for no more than a week or two. Rhiney and Crusty wanted to “do something good for the country that had been so kind and beneficial to them since their arrival from Sweden.”

    Well even back in 1977, it had already become apparent that Americans, seemingly everywhere (even though not so much yet in rural Alaska) were hell bent on suing the crap out of each other for ANYthing! Thus, when George insisted they had to be PAID by the Federal Government for their services, the two old miners were initially insulted and seemed about to withdraw their offer in total. Well, at THAT point I had to jump in and tell the old codgers it didn’t have to be much. Just something to make it all legal-schmegal since the government has to account and document for every little thing.

    This led to the most interesting bargaining session I’d ever witnessed. Rhiney and Luthor said, “Okay Den. Ve’ll charge you a quarter for breakfast and 50 cents for dinner den.” to which George, responding in typical government pork barrel fashion stated “Oh no guys. I’d have to pay you at least what we pay for our meals at (Ft.) Wainwright in the chow hall. And that’s $2.50 for breakfast and four buck for dinner apiece.” Another sixty seconds of haggling, with George, in time honored D.C. fashion, doing his damndest to spend as much taxpayer money as possible , resulted in final prices of a buck twenty-five for breakfast and double that for dinner.

    Only 23 at the time, I found myself shaking my head in bewilderment. It would NOT be the last time I would watch in shock and awe as the Blimnites did their darndest to defy what little I knew at that age to be common sense economic rules.

    After dropping us off back at the strip George and I, after refreshing our anti-mosquito defenses, proceeded to unload the sled and begin setting up camp. Two hours later, as the sun began to slide lower on the northwest horizon, we stood back to survey the fruits of our labors.

    Two olive drab “M*A*S*H “- style tents were erected side by side. Our “swamp” was complete with a corner “radio shack” area where a sturdy wooden table holding no less than a half dozen various HF and FM radios and walkie-talkies sat ready and waiting to tie us into the Blimnite radio network. Two folding card tables and another (cafeteria-style, with fold-flat metal legs) table now supported the logistics of a BLM operation, being covered to capacity with typewriters and multiple boxes of forms.

    A second, smaller sized (but still olive drab) tent was set up immediately to the side of “H.Q.”. Into this green canvas “supply room” went the two dozen boxes of C-rats along with batteries, boxes of bug dope, boxes of extra forms (gotta’ have LOTS of FORMS!) and all the miscellaneous dohickeys and what-nots it takes to run a field office for BLM.

    Sweat oozes from every pore on both of us. Mixing with the dried oils of the bug spray in which we have literally bathed ourselves, I feel like I’ve been “slimed”. My hair is greasy and I’m already wishing for a shower. Instead, as we turn to survey the skies to the north, I reach for a roll of paper towels to wipe myself down with. And as I apply my third coating of Deep Woods Off for the evening I turn to see George now looking at the southeast horizon. He’s focused on a group of half a dozen relatively small cumulonimbus clouds in the distance. Almost muttering to himself I can barely hear him say over the buzz of half a million mosquitos wings “C’mon you little puppies....grow baby.....GROW!”

    Mother Nature must’ve heard George’s softly muttered plea. For the next afternoon I was launched on my first recon flight to search for signs of smoke after three or four much larger cells blew through the area and scattered lightning strikes hither and yon.

    CloudDancer

    www.clouddancer.org
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  36. #36
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    Chapter Seven - All You Know WHAT Breaks Loose

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  37. #37

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    All I want for Christmas is another round of the Baron and the Bootlegger. . .

  38. #38
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    ME TO
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a well preserved body but rather to slide in sideways, well used up proclaiming "WOW What a Ride"

  39. #39
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    How 'bout I shoot for New Year's Eve or sooner. Gotta' pack the ol' rollerboard and head out for SLC around noon. Start of this weeks four day torture test.

    The way the airports have been operating this week, I'm just hopin' I can stay in the MIDDLE of the concrete strips!

    Ho, Ho, HO ! ya'll.

    Cloud(nuttierthanaChristmasFRUITcake)Dancer
    A SUPERIOR pilot, uses his or her SUPERIOR judgement, to stay out of situations which may require the use of their SUPERIOR skills.

  40. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by CloudDancer
    How 'bout I shoot for New Year's Eve or sooner. Gotta' pack the ol' rollerboard and head out for SLC around noon. Start of this weeks four day torture test.

    The way the airports have been operating this week, I'm just hopin' I can stay in the MIDDLE of the concrete strips!

    Ho, Ho, HO ! ya'll.

    Cloud(nuttierthanaChristmasFRUITcake)Dancer
    Hope the flying is going SAFE and boring, so boring you're almost dreaming about typing up another chapter, the siren song of "write me. . . wriiitttteee meeeee" echoing in the background. . .

    Once recovery has commenced, of course. Happy New Year!

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