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A Good Day's Work."

Jerry ya' ol' Grump you!! :bad-words:

Long time no hear! :howdy

Thought about you the other day, when I took my first flight into FCA. Got a good laugh out of my F/O who was in OBVIOUS discomfort as the cumulo graniti slid by our right wing a mere mile away and towering above us :crazyeyes: as we were on a visual left downwind in our "big jet" with unlimited visibility. The boy woulda' never cut it up north!! :cry:
Godfrey DANiels how beautiful Montana is!! :usa Next best thing to being in Alaska, and all the PEOPLE are the same as Alaskans. Warm and Welcoming!! :kiss:

How did YOU turn into such a dill pickle??!! LOL! :Gurgh:

I jokes. I JOKES!! Been so long since you yanked MY chain....I thought I'd get in the first shot!! :snipersmile:

Did you ever show my stuff to Ted? Did he like it? Does he want to do a CloudDancer made-for TV-movie yet?? 8)

I will work for peanuts. I mean, after all, I AM a major airline pilot, right?? :help

Thanx for the note. Glad I can still provide an occasional chuckle for you between commercials!!

Your Humble (sort of) Scribe

CloudDancer :anon
Chapter Five - “Uh, Did You Want Fries With That Sir?”

Now...ONE of the reasons that you KNOW men ‘n womens are DIFFerent, is accounta’ God made them with an extra gene. It is called the “SHOPPING GENE” :roll: , and generally lays dormant within the female until around the age of ten years. Infrequently it has been seen in females as young as seven, and in extreme cases has been know to become dominant as early as THREE!

This is the gene that allows, nay, proVOKES females to spend ridiculous amounts of time, not to mention ridiculous sums of MONEY on......SHOPPING!! For.....%#@& WHAT!! Two or maybe three MORE of what they already HAVE and don’t wear/use/bathe in....whatEVER!! Which, since the vast maJORITY of the MONEY spent during these sometimes day long primal tribal rituals comes out of the pocket of some hard working FELLA; well, in MY mind, it’s just SAD! There oughta’ be some sort of self-help or brainwashing program you could SEND your females to stop this foolishness.
This is NOT the same as Tim Allen or Bob Vila or legions of HEALTHY American men who shop for USEful stuff. You know, ANYthing having to do with searing raw meat over a fire . That’s USEful. It’s a man’s JOB to feed his family.

As for me, I prefer to sit and drink rum :drinking: while watching other men sear my meat for me. I’m too DANgerous around a grill, and have been known to make Tim "The Tool Man” Taylor look like a safety Expert. Ergo, I generally shop on the average of about two and a half times a year. A shopping expedition for me is MOST often generated by the same event.

A thorough search of the closet floor and under the bed fails to yield a clean pair of shorts. A reluctant, but necessary tour of the dirty clothes hamper.....(peeeeee-UU!!) :Gparp:
likewise fails to give up a suitable “lightly worn” pair. DRAT!!

Donning swimsuit, flip-flops and a sweatshirt I slide down my fireman’s pole, leap into the CloudDancerMobile and rocket two blocks down to TAR-SJHAY (Target). Parking in the fire lane by the front door :whis: (TRUST me...I’ll be back before the tow truck OR the cops get here) I barrel through the front doors like Duke Wayne entering the Long Branch Saloon in some old western :onfire: and head straight for the appropriate section of the store.

Once there the only decision is three pair for $5.99 or six pair for $7.99. I opt for the three pack, (it’s only a two day trip!) and head for the checkout counter. Ignoring the bubble-gum snapping checkout girl’s crack asking if I’d like to have these GIFT-WRAPPED!! After a slow glance at first the size on the package and then my waistline; :evil:
I sign the credit card receipt and I am back out the door in under three minutes flat.

There! I have SHOPPED! :Girk:

So, the prospect of wandering around a J.C.Penney’s appliance tent sale BORES me. BUT the BOSS has spoken and seems pretty interested in it all. I can’t imagine why, and dismount the truck quite reluctantly wondering WHAT Dan could possibly be up to.

Well Loyal SuperCubber’s and wannabe SuperCubbers .

I just wanted to get SOMEthing up here tonight ‘cause I know ya’ll are achin’ for me to get to the end of this. But, I have a pretty full agenda tonight and can’t do much more as I have to be up before the sun rises to take Momma CloudDancer (in town on her every-other-month INPECTION tour) to the AIRport (on my day OFF no less) and send her back from whence she came.

I WILL wrap this up tamale as your truly must fire up a pair of IAE’s Friday morning and gad about America the Beautiful again.

Whoopee!! I got two ANC trips in July TOO!! CloudDancer will go CloudDancing back to his ROOTS!!. :pty:

Night ya’ll - CD
I didn’t have to wait too long to find out, as Dan zeroed in on the chest freezer section of the tent in fairly short order. And he remarked that his wife hade been wanting a bigger freezer for quite some time now. In just a few minutes Dan had narrowed the field down to one Frigidaire chest freezer with a 22.1 cubic foot capacity. The choice was somewhat restricted (he wanted a bigger one) by the fact that this was the largest one he was POSITIVE we could wedge into the 207 for the trip home, as paying for airfreight when you own a fleet of airplanes is somewhat confounding. It wore a big red price tag of “Only $899!!”

(Sidebar- While I’m SURE there MUST be a way for me to insert a “salesman selling a freezer to an Eskimo” joke here....I’ll PASS!)

Calling over the salesman Dan starts working the deal. How he got the credit check done and/or passed in just a few minutes was beyond me at first. I mean this was LONG before the internet and “instant” anythings!! All he did was give the man his driver’s license issued in Kotzebue (valid withOUT picture) in those days along with a phone number to call for a “credit reference”.

Turns out the phone number was to Dan and Rod’s OTHER brother(s) office in JNU, where the man just HAPPENED to be a State Senator; one of Alaska’s first elected and most powerful Native legislators therefore.

We-e-e-ell. That about takes CARE of the “credit check” and Dan and I are soon back out on Cushman Street bouncing down the road with the Gunderson family’s new chest freezer safely secured in the rear of the truck.

As we approach Airport Way Dan comments that we need to probably think about heading back as we can’t waste the WHOLE day just goofin’ OFF in the big city so we turn west and proceed toward the airport. But with Dan, FLEXIBILITY is the key. We’ve gone barely three blocks before we come across the farthest north McDonald’s franchise in North America. Yep. The Golden Arches had sprouted out of the frozen tundra just a few short years earlier but had set sales records, monthly and yearly, for ALL McDonalds world-wide from the day it had opened. Per store or per capita, that big clown Ronald hauled in more cash from the residents of Fairbanks and the surrounding areas than anywhere else.

Oh, it’s probably been beaten by now, but this was 1973 and this was the FIRST fast food place in the North Country outside Anchorage, and dining options were limited. Nowadays Fairbanks boasts what is probably the “farthest north” EVERYthing from Denny’s, KFC, and Taco Bell to a Barnes ‘n Noble bookstore. Although Penny’s did close years ago. But I think the record for the “Farthest North Franchise”, at least on U.S. soil (or TUNDRA) if there IS such a thing; would have to go the school-teacher owner/operators of what WAS a very busy real red-roofed neon ice cream cone with the famous “squiggle” on top Dairy Queen that was built and served the fine folks of Kotzebue for quite a few years although it too has now passed on.

Anyway with ninety bucks or so still burning a hole in his jeans pocket, not to mention a flair for “entrepreneurial thinking” Dan has struck upon yet ANOTHER brilliant idea to make money. But all I hear is “He-e-e-ey... I know!!”

And I look over at him and he’s looking at me with this HUGE grin on his beaming round cherubic face. All that is missing is the cartoon character light-bulb :Geureka: as we wheel a quick 180 around the intersection to the right and pull into Mickey D’s. As he twists the key to the off position and the engine rattles into silence he says “C’mon. I’ll buy you a Big Mac!!” This is good. I’m a growing boy and I am HUNGRY!!

We get to the counter and a cute little blonde girl, not much younger than me comes up to take our order but Dan tells her to wait a minute while he digs in his pockets. At the same time he turns to me and says “How much money YOU got??”

‘I thought YOU were buying” sez I. “Oh. I WILL. But this is something different. See how much money YOU have” he says as he begins counting his money.

I come up with 48 bucks and some change while Dan has a couple of bucks over an even hundred. Adding quickly in his head he says “Good! We got $150 BUCKS” and then turns to the girl continuing “oh-KAY. I want two Big Macs, two fries and a milkshake apiece, chocolate for me” and he turns to me. ‘I’ll have strawberry’ I announce. She rings it up and comes up with a total of under six bucks. (Big Macs in those days were about .80 cents in the states, and were ninety-five cents or a buck even here.) She gives Dan change from his one and five and starts to turn to get our order but Dan says “Wait. We need more!!”

Sweetly she smiles and says ‘yes Sir.” fingers, poised over the register pad. Dan says” I ALSO want ONE HUNDRED and FORTY Big Macs....to GO!!”

I don’t know whose jaw dropped farther. The blonde girl on the other side of the counter...or MINE!! Recovering at the same instant we both spoke at once. The girl asked completely bewildered, “Are you SERIOUS!!??” My comment was basically along the same line except it contained profanity and a reference to Dan’s apparent lack of metal stability as it immediately ALSO dawned on me that MY MONEY was going for this lunatic purchase as well!!

Dan smiled at the girl sweetly and begged her pardon before turning to me and chewing me out :agrue: for my comment in the presence of a lady. He then turned back to the girl and repeated the order which she rung up and took the rest of Dan’s cash and almost ALL of mine for. She was VERY excited as apparently no one else had EVER had an order as large as this one, even when the guys came into town from Eilson A.F.B. Go figure.

I resist the urge to say anything else before we get our food and slide into a booth far from the counter to enjoy what had JUST become a very expensive meal. But finally, as I unwrap my Big Mac, I ask Dan “Dan. WHAT on earth pray tell, are you THINKing!!?? Those things’ll be stone COLD ‘fore you can get them home. To which he responds “I doubt we’ll even have any LEFT by the time we see Kotzebue.”; and all of a SUDDEN it is as clear as it can be for me. :pty: We are going to sell Big Macs on the westbound trip HOME!! Mickey D’s for EVERBODY!!

A little more than an hour later we loaded two formerly empty lettuce boxes into the back of the truck. The workers then took time to wrap the boxes with Reynolds Wrap so the Big Macs would stay fresh, and the entire store came out to see us off with lots of waving and cheering. Good to know we could make their day.

Now finally we are on our way BACK to the airport. I think it shall be a LONG ride home....
Chapter Six - A Good Days Work

The trip westbound back to Kotzebue was.....INtresting to say the least. It was my first “hands on” exposure to the Gunderson method of generating work/revenues.

We made a beeline at 6500 feet from Fairbanks straight to Shungnak at the eastern end of the upper Kobuk Valley. With me in the left seat, gettin’ some “heavy” time, I couldn’t help but wonder aloud to Dan why he elected not only to tell me what course to take, but also why so HIGH?

He explained to me. “It’s for the same reason we’re NOT going to Kobuk. This leg is ALL about selling those Big Macs.” As my mind wonders briefly, trying to remember ANY ad in FLYING magazine that read something like “Learn to FLY!! Have a GREAT future in the growing Sell Big Macs from the back of your airplane industry!!”

(Sidebar - Given the state of “cabin service” in TODAY’s airline industry...just such an ad is probably MORE APPROPRIATE!! See- A Note to an Old Friend )

Dan continued. “See, even with about seven more knots of headwind up here we are going to make FAR better time getting to Shungnak up here. And the Big Macs are still going to be close to hot.” We had set the two lettuce boxes on the very back “shelf” under the glare of the hot sun shining through the plexiglass and, given that the lettuce boxes had been lined with aluminum foil and they continued to “bake” in the direct late arctic afternoon sunlight, there is every chance Dan is correct. “And Kobuk is way too small. There’s only four or five little kids there, and it’s going to be the little KIDS that sell the hamburgers FOR me!!”

“Huh?” I reply and look at Dan quite dumbfounded.

“Look, don’t you ever notice in the supermarket how in the checkout lane the little kids are ALWAYS bugging their moms to BUY them this candy or that candy??” “Yeah. Sort of, I guess...I dunno’.” I replied. “Well you watch what happens when we get to Shungnak.” he laughs!!

Conclusion coming....I’m still writing....CD
An hour and thirty minutes later I roll in some forward trim as the village comes into view and we head back for Mother Earth. As I am concentrating on my descent rate and (eyeball) distance to go, Dan picks up the CB radio mike and turns the tiny silver rotary off/on/volume switch to the right then selects the “inter-village” use Channel 11.

“Hellllll-oooooooo Shungnak Shungnak” he sings out melodically. “Hey, this is Dan Gunderson and I’m coming in from Fairbanks. Everybody come out and see what I got!!”

He repeats the transmission again a second time adding,” we’ll be there in about teeeeen MINutes!!” I shake my head in utter disbelief, but hey. I’m the new kid on the block still and this...IS a different world I’ve decided. Much different than the one I had come from.

Dan makes a point of telling me to REALLY “wake em up” as we arrive, and since I’d ridden with HIM doing the same, I pretty much knew that the only low altitude “limit” as it were was don’t HIT anything. Now Shungnak, much like Kiana was built on a bluff overlooking the river. Ergo, it seemed only appropriate to make my “Hi! We’re HERE!!” pass at window level with the houses closest to the river, at mid channel. Add in increasing the prop pitch as you flash by at just below bottom of the yellow arc airspeed, and one can be fairly certain that the entire village is now aware of your presence.

I used to do the same thing at Deering (on the south shore of the Kotzebue Sound) in the early (for me) years as well. Although Deering was a little dicier because at window level in Deering you were only seven to ten feet above the water or pack ice depending on tides. Plus the beach had quite a little CURVE to it right where the houses were. Hell, the RUNWAY had quite a little curve to it at Deering, being BUILT just above the beach in those days.

Unfortunately this fun arrival “procedure”was, after decades of use, to die out only a few short years later as the proliferation of telephones combined with an actual effort on the part of the FED’s (boy...now THOSE guys had NO sense of Humor....) :peeper to begin bringing the rural pilots to either “justice” :whis: or a more “civilized” way of flying....took it’s toll but, I digress.

( Regular CloudDancer followers know that I digress quite FREquently....)

Pulling up off the river into a left half-chandelle puts me on a left downwind for an easterly arrival to Shungnak and I reach down to pop open the cowl flaps as I bleed the speed back into the flaps 10 range. Rolling into a left bank with another degree or two of nose up gets me well below the top of the white arc and as the turn passes twenty degrees of bank I shove the flap selector down to the first detent. The flaps reach ten as I roll wings level on a left base for about a mile and a half final. I lean forward to look to my left and notice that there are already a good half dozen or more trails of dust being kicked up on the road from town to the airstrip. At the head of each dust trail is a red Honda or Yamaha three-wheeler (quad-runners weren’t invented yet) with one or two people one it, and a couple tow small trailers with people in back.

By the time we roll into the small one-airplane sized “bulge” in the end/side/threshold of the dirt strip that serves as a “ramp area”, more than fifty people of all ages have assembled.

It’s REALLY unbelievable. Dan gets out the right door, as people are peering into the plane. ‘Who’s FREEZER??!! they all shout. “Where you GOing??!!” “You were in FAIRbanks, UH??!!”

Dan opens the back doors and pulls one lettuce box down from the shelf. MAN!! I been SMELLING those things ALL the way from Fairbanks!! Dan says “Hey CloudDancer” and I turn to see him sliding me a Big Mac across the closed lid of the freezer. Thinking nothing more of it I open up the wrapper, take off the cardboard “crown” and (I’m STARVED again) start to munch.

The “oohs” and AHHHs!!” from the people watching me through the open right hand door start as I open the wrapper, and as I chomp down on the first bite I hear the first kid holler “MOM! BUYMEBUYMEBUUUUUUUYMEEEEEEEE!!”

I ALmost choke on that first mouthful as I hear Dan quote a THREE DOLLAR price to his customers, but the cold hard American ones, fives and tens are FLYING. And MORE people are STILL pulling up from the village.

Thirty Big Macs, still lukewarm, went sailing out of the back of the airplane at three bucks a pop in a matter of four minutes flat. Interestingly enough...all cash...no CREDIT allowed on THIS good deal. We hung out for another ten minutes or so allowing time for another twenty big Macs to be sold. Everywhere I looked...half the men women and children were licking their fingers, wiping the last trace of the “special sauce” off their cheeks with a finger that proceeds diRECtly to the mouth, or feeling around with the tip of their tongue trying to drag that last little fleck of lettuce or sesame seed into their mouths.

As the business dries up Dan announces we have to press on to Ambler our next stop which prompts one woman to ask Dan if we can take her ten year old over to Ambler with us and for how much. Dan says $15 and the lady says OKAY and drags out her change purse from her apron pocket. At this point I am tempted to say something to Dan such as “Where are we going to PUT the little bugger since the FREEZER is taking up the whole of the cabin and we cannot put down any seats. (Sigh) I should’ve KNOWN better......

STILL Writing!!
Dan takes the unusable chairs and shoves them alongside the freezer and places the remaining Big Macs all in one box which he places on the floor behind the freezer. This leaves the back shelf empty. Dan belts the young boy in on the back shelf using the tie down rings as seat belt anchors.

With astern admonition to the boy to remain seated STILL and by NO MEANS touch the Big Macs :Girk: he closes the aft doors and trots around the tail of the airplane to clamber into the left seat. Noting the disappointed look on my face as I slowly mount the right seat, Dan says “ Don’t worry CloudDancer. You can fly again after Ambler, when we don’t have passengers.

That Dan. Such a STICKLER for RULES!! :Gurgh:

I marvel at the practiced ease with which he fires up the machine and has us blasting our own cloud of dust behind us as we roar off to the west. I hope to soon have that easy flow and confidence in this big machine too.
It’s just a hop, skip and a jump ( or about 28NM or so) from Shungnak to Ambler and a couple of minutes after we level (at seven hundred feet MSL, of COURSE) I ask Dan “Aren’t you going to make an announcement to Ambler.” Chuckling Dan says “Turn on the radio”, meaning the CB.

The “click” of the rotary knob turning is instantly followed by a female voice coming over the speaker. It is one of the ladies from Shungnak telling one of her friends or relatives in Ambler how she LOVES the little “crunch” of the tiny sesame seeds on the top part of the bun. A good five minutes pass as I listen to the praises of the Big Mac before FINALLY there is a break so that the mother of our passenger can call HER sister and announce that ten year old Timmy is coming to visit for a few days and would you please go get him at the “airport” (which is literally one of two dirt strips) that are laid out right in the MIDDLE of the village in the shape of a huge PLUS sign.

Huge being relative here. What is HUGE for a plus sign (1800 feet across) is NOT really so huge when you are trying to plant an Cessna 207 on it; not to mention a much LARGER Beech C-54 Twin Bonanza as I would be doing in only a few short months!! Add in that the “plus sign” airport’s LONGER (1800 ft) runway was ‘humped” from side to side as WELL as lengthwise (you could see both ENDS if you were standing in the MIDDLE...but from either end you could only SEE to the middle...SHEESH!) Anyway. You can see why Dan wasn’t ready yet for me to tackle this place in the left seat. Hell, It was still a fair challenge in a fully loaded SKYhawk for me at THIS point in time.

Ambler when we landed was a repeat of the scene at Shungnak, and to the our passenger’s credit it APPEARED at least that he had left the Big Macs alone. :angel: Pockets now bulging with ones and fives and tens we were shortly off for Kiana, with me in the left seat again. Way cool because being out of CB range of Shungnak and Ambler I got to do the “low pass” drill again. :wink:

Dan was right. Nary a Big Mac one made it all the way to Kotzebue. Noorvik took the last twenty being at only twelve to fourteen miles away from Kiana and WELL within CB radio range the same sales methods did their magic. Even though by now the burgers were over four hours removed from the grill, would you believe the last TWO drew a bidding war by two VERY determined men. The winner ( I THINK) was the one who walked away with the money in his pocket still. The bidding was final at THIRTEEN dollars. :stupid :p Ray Croc HAD to be turning over in his grave!!

So, nine and a half hours after we left we roll back to the ramp in Kotzebue and drag our now somewhat tired butts into the office after unloading the freezer onto the ground.

Sitting at his desk, Dan and I empty our pockets onto the top and we begin sorting and stacking the bills by denomination. Dan gives me the first two twentys he finds along with a five and announces ‘There! We’re GOOD!”

Counting the rest yields a total cash pot of an even four hundred and twenty-two dollars. And Dan counts it again to double check. Same number.

Gleefully, Dan looks up at me leaning over the desktop where I have been counting along with him and says “GEE!! What a GREAT day, huh??!!”

Looking back quickly in my mind, I know the day was enJOY able. I say as much to Dan adding “but I’m not too SURE we’ve really done too GOOD for ourselves as a WHOLE today.”

Dan looks at me quizzically, as if my response makes NO sense to him. ‘’Okay” he says “THINK about it” This MORNing we (meaning the “air service”) had almost NO (operating) CASH and I bet there wasn’t ten gallons of gas in that plane out there. Right?”

“Well that is certainly TRUE....” I began, but was interrupted by Dan saying “But look at NOW. We got a GOOD 3/4 tank left on one side....we flew eight hours almost......we got a brand new FREEZER....and over FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS cash MOney !! Now if that isn’t a Good Day’s Work....well...I don’t know what is!! C’mon kid...let’s go home and show my wife her new FREEZER and see what’s for dinner.”

And that little voice kept nagging at the back of my consciousness, but I couldn’t hear it I guess ‘cause all I could think was......COOL! I gotta’ go HOME ‘n put my HEAVY time in my log book!!

Th-e-e-e-e-e END!!