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L. Ronstadt - J. Ingram Duet
Chapter One - Boss Hogg and Enos -

As many of our regular readers will recall, the relationship between the F.A.A. and Alaska’s bush pilots had long been….uh…rather…uh…cantankerous! :agrue: Yes. Cantankerous is just about the perfect word to describe what seemed to be at times, an almost continuous battle of wits, waged between the pilots of the Great Land and the Federales charged with trying to “regulate” them.

In fact, quite often, what played out between members of the two unquestionably adversarial groups, resembled what could most accurately be likened to a scene in the old 1970’s T.V. show “The Dukes of Hazard”. Naturally the protagonists of the show, Bo and his cousin Luke Duke, in our real life version would be the pilots:up. Leaving the F.A.A. personnel of Flight Standards District Office 61 of Fairbanks to fill the “bad guy” roles of Boss Hogg, Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrain:down and Deputy Enos:Gfrog:, who was basically still a nice guy at heart.

Now, as they say on the Fox Network….to be “fair and balanced”, I have to throw in here that while as you are about to read, our opponents could be devious and sneaky, they weren’t really bad fellas. And although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that one or two of ‘em were accidently dropped on their heads by their Mommas when being picked up outta’ the crib; nonetheless they were mostly good old boys. They were never truly malicious. They were mostly interested in helping us stay safe on the job, and promoting the growth of the rural Alaskan flying network. And after all, they were pilots too. So they had that going for them.
Howsumever it all to often happened, that what they and their masters in faraway Washington, D.C. sought to enforce as regulation, didn’t quite fit in with what the bush air taxi owner-operators and their pilot-employees saw as…well…necessary!
In many if not most cases, the primary consideration for the owner-operators was what something was going to cost them; either immediately out of their pockets, or in potential lost revenue down the line. And then there was just the stupid stuff.
For instance one operations inspector would show up and demand that, to be in compliance, an operator must move the hand-held fire extinguisher mounting bracket from the right lower front sidewall panel. To please this inspector, the operator would have his mechanic move the assembly to the new position on the left lower front sidewall, where it would be more readily accessible to the pilot when needed in flight (according to the inspector). Of course, this applied to all four or five of his Cessna 206’s and 207’s. And any effort on the part of the operator to point out (quite logically) that the plane came fresh from the factory assembly line with the fire extinguisher where it was; and that presumably the Federal Aviation Administration itself had certified the aircraft “as equipped” on the manufacturer’s Type Certificate was pointless. The inspector would come back with some mumbo-jumbo government-speak gobbledygook in response that always ended with “do it…or ELSE!”
So the poor operator would grumble and growl and then finally go and make the change to please his assigned operations inspector, and everything would be fine. On that count at least. That is, until the next newly assigned Principal Operations Inspector (from the same Fairbanks office) showed up.
See inspectors rotated in and out of Alaska. Some stayed a long time. Some didn’t last a year. And even back in those days the FED’s would rotate operators and inspectors every so often just to make sure the two groups never got too “cozy” with each other. Yeah...right! As if there was ever a risk of THAT happening in the bush!
So two months later, out of nowhere, you’ve got a new F.A.A. inspector coming in to look at your operation. Inspecting one of your airplanes, he sees the remounted fire extinguisher on the left hand sidewall. Pointing offendingly at it he says “Hey! What is that doing there? That’s dangerous! That could impede a pilot’s ability to quickly escape the aircraft or hurt him as he tried to get out in a hurry. You’ve GOT to move those!” At which point our owner-operator grits his teeth:Gurgh: and tries to explain it to the new inspector without blowing his lid!

More grumbling and growling from the operator begets more verbal governmental doublespeak from the inspector. This then prompts snarling threats, curses, and accusations of doubt as to the lineage of the inspector’s family tree from the operator. Which in return, now firmly plants the inspector’s feet in concrete, in response to having his mother’s moral compass called into question. He’s not budging! And the operator now has to move the fire extinguisher assembly to yet a third mounting position between the seats on the floor where it is deemed by the new inspector to be both easily accessible, and a non-hazard to a safe emergency egress. Now once again, the operator is free to fly his fleet of Cessna singles…in compliance.
Three months later they are back again. And this time, it is the maintenance inspector who turns to the poor owner-operator and says “Hey! Howcum you moved the fire extinguisher? The plane was type-certified with the fire extinguisher mounted on the right lower sidewall. You’re not supposed to move it! You gotta’ move it back to where it belongs!” (pregnant pause now for dramatic effect…)
KAAAH-BLAMMO! Folks, you gotta’ believe me. You can’t make stuff like this up! As God is my witness, I swear. I was actually there for the show with the second ops inspector and the maintenance inspector. The second one was bad enough, but I actually felt kinda’ bad for the third guy. Leroy (my boss, and the owner-operator involved) went understandably NUTS :onfire:on the guy! And given that Leroy was just a wee bit liquored up as the two men squared off, leaning across opposite sides of the upended wooden electric cable spool that served our tiny office as a coffee table; it came as only a slight surprise to me that Leroy’s Buck knife appeared magically in his hand and was driven with vengeance deep into the spool’s wooden surface to punctuate his outrage. Whether it was pure luck or Leroy’s incredible skill that caused the blade to wind up between the middle and ring fingers of the inspector’s left hand is still a mystery to me. Leroy was furious! And Leroy was righteous. And…Leroy moved the fire extinguisher mounts on all the planes a third time. And then there was the really C.S. (chickenshit) stuff.:roll:

This was generally the stuff that might make a difference if you are based in oh…say….Miami, Florida or White Plains, New York in the early 1970’s. Things like making sure you had the most current sectionals or WAC charts in every aircraft. The fact that nothing, and I mean NOTHING had changed on either side of the Nome sectional map in the last twenty years or more made no difference. No new radio frequencies. Certainly no new roads, radio transmission towers, nor any new airports to be added. But no matter; that is an example of some of the nitnoid things the FEDs would try to nail us for if they couldn’t find anything else.
And then there’s the reg that says you are supposed to carry your pilot’s license and medical on you at all times while you are flying.
Hell. There were guys flying around Alaska for years that didn’t even have a license or medical to carry around with them! And do you think the FEDs ever wandered around town investigating who these guys were and trying to catch them:peeper? Nope! It was easier to hang around the airport and pester the working pilots like us with ramp checks. Then they could take out their liddle notebooks from their shirt pocket and write down all our info, so they could fill out their forms when they got back to the hotel room. Check the box, fill the square, and show the bosses back in Fairbanks and Washington, D.C. that they were out there riding herd on those renegade backwater bush pilots.

But sometimes, as you’ll soon see, even the smallest of potential offenses can lead to some of the funniest episodes that leave you laughing ‘til your sides ache. For just as sure as Boss Hogg and Sheriff Roscoe (the only two guys in the world with a worse won-loss record than Wile E. Coyote) figured they had the perfect trap laid for them Duke boys and were gonna’ finally nail ‘em and jail ‘em; only to have Bo and Luke in the General Lee once again slip through their fingers while simultaneously leaving them with egg all over their faces; so it was occasionally with us and the FEDs.


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Good Lord Cloudy: I thought I had worked so hard this last summer to bring you peace and closure with "Boss Hogg" or "Enos", or whatever you called your old Nemisis or Windmill.. But maybe that was another story? I'm a little concerned where you're going with this. Hope you know what you're doing. I'm sure it will be interesting.

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Hey Cloudy,

You need a vacation!!!

There is a new CAP wing trying to start in Haines AK, maybe you ought to come up there and hang out a while with no internet, cell phone, faa, tsa or traffic...

I have a root beer ready, or I can find a ginger ale... byob (bring your own babe).

But good to see the writing!
Geezz its just like here, just replace the letter with T.C. and you have it covered, i love it.

Chapter Three - Is That Big D or Little D

At the close of the 1940’s, a former U.S. Navy PBY Aleutian Islands combat veteran pilot:flag, born in California, showed up in the Great White North to fly for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Service. Although your favorite story-teller was not yet even a twinkle in Pappa CloudDancer’s eyes when Dean Gohdeen arrived on the scene in Fairbanks, Alaska; we were destined to someday meet, and become life-long friends.

Meanwhile in the intervening two-and-a-half decades, Dean became practically a living legend. He is even memorialized for posterity in a song recorded in the late 1960’s called “Homin’ Home to Home in Kotzebue.” The title refers to the only available navigation aid in the old days of bush flying, the trusty non-directional beacon or NDB. And while the song that praised Dean and other legendary N.W. Alaskan bush pilots was most likely seldom ever aired on a radio station outside the 49[SUP]th[/SUP] state, it got plenty of “air time” after KOTZ (720 on your AM dial) went on the air in in 1974. I know as one of KOTZ’s part-time volunteer D.J.s:headset1:, I gave it quite a few spins on the turntable during my shifts.

By the time a (dripping) wet-behind-the-ears young CloudDancer stumbled down the rear airstairs of the Smilin’ Eskimo smoker in the summer of 1973, Dean was one of the “elder statesmen” of bush flying, as I often like to refer to he and his peers. He had done it all already. From flying C-46’s and DC-3’s for Wein Consolidated to, along with Leroy, serving as a world-renowned and sought after polar bear hunting guide. There was even a seldom discussed story of Dean and Leroy being contracted by the C.I.A. to conduct super “top-secret” spying missions against the Russians.

As the story was told, when it occasionally leaked out under the influence of repeated servings of mind altering substances (Dean’s favorite mind-altering substance being Crown Royal vs. Leroy’s preferred poison of Smirnoff vodka)…Dean and Leroy were to fly their SuperCubs out of Kotzebue loaded up to hunt polar bear. They would then proceed to “get lost” :helpout over the vast stretches of the ice-covered Chukchi Sea to the northwest. This was to be their “cover story” were they ever forced down by weather or Russian fighters, as they spent hours exploring and photographing the eastern coastlines of Siberia.

On the rare occasion that Dean actually let the story slip out as we sat :pty::drinking:in his double wide trailer house on the banks of the Kobuk river into the wee hours of the morning, there would always be a special twinkle in his eye as he told it. So you never really knew for sure. But then, Dean always had a lively sparkle in his glacier-ice blue eyes. It went perfectly with his ubiquitous sunshine countenance and 10,000 watt seemingly permanent smile. Yep. Ol’ Dean could find a way to laugh and have fun at a bris. Tall and broad-shouldered like a fullback, he was a man that I think every other man admired, and any female who ever met his mischevious gaze, young or old, just swooned.

Fortunately for me, by the time I arrived in the arctic, Dean had left the relative hustle and bustle of Fairbanks for the quiet and much more laid back lifestyle available in one of the villages along the Kobuk River. Thus our paths crossed constantly. And Dean, along with the Gunderson brothers, Leroy, and Werner Tomlinson and others became one of my mentors, as well as my idols. Of them all, great and skilled pilots each and every one, I think I most wanted to be like Dean when I grew up.

So you can imagine my surprise and extreme pride when, after only eight months in the arctic, for my 20[SUP]th[/SUP] birthday, Dean presented me with a personal birthday present from him.

At the time, I was not long removed from Texas, the state where I was raised (not born…raised)! Now among other things, Texas is known as one of the states with a colorful history of cowboys. And of course, besides strutting around in pointy-toed boots and cowboy hats, no self-respecting Texas cowboy would ever be caught without a b-i-i-i-g BELT BUCKLE!

So how appropriate was it that the gift was a HUGE, burnt solid brass, belt buckle! It was cast with a DHC-3 Beaver on floats and the words “BUSH PILOT” prominently raised on it. Only several years later would it dawn on me that Dean had bestowed this on me in a good-natured “dig” at my youthful hubris and already developing Texas-sized pilot ego. When I finally realized it, I could only laugh at myself. But Dean had etched his name and “Happy Birthday” and the date on the back side. It remains one of my most cherished possessions in life 37 years later.

Also in the intervening years, Dean had much earlier (while still in Fairbanks actually) started his own one man air-taxi which he called Dean’s DebonAire Flying Service with his first SuperCub. And by the time we met, he had for many years also been operating a sporty red-and-white Cessna 185 with a belly cargo pod on it. In fact, it was the DebonAire Flying Service Cessna 185 that had roared low across the top of the Alaska Airlines terminal in a steep bank as I deplaned for the very first time in Kotzebue from the Alaska jet. (See “If You Ever Do That Again” in the original CloudDancer’s Alaskan Chronicles book).

Oh yeah. And Dean had also acquired a wife (or two) along the way and a growing family. So now we get to the other major character of our soon-to-be related “chinese fire drill” style encounter between the good guys (us) and the FEDs. This is Dean’s first-born son, who (proudest of his effort in the whole deal) he naturally named Dean Junior.

Like most children of Alaskan bush pilots, Junior literally grew up in the SuperCub and Cessna 185. So he was flying solo in the old man’s Cub before he was 12 I think, though neither will admit it for the record.:wink: And in addition to inheriting his father’s legendary flying skills, the son also was blessed with every bit of the good looks, charm, and the practically unlimited personal generosity and graciousness that made his father so well liked. In fact, the first time I ever met the kid (Little Dean was in 8[SUP]th[/SUP] grade then) I was amazed at not only the striking physical resemblance between the two, but at the personality parallels as well.

And sure enough as the Kobuk Valley watched the son grow into a young man, all agreed that the acorn had not fallen far from the tree. So much so that by the time Little Dean was a senior in high school, a young 20 or 22 year old village girl might find herself smitten:love: by the slightly-younger-than-her Dean Junior, and the almost-too-old-for-her Dean Senior at the same time! No doubt in my mind it must have happened more than once.

In fact, it became confusing for everyone, even long before Junior was legally old enough to obtain his commercial and instrument pilot’s licenses and start flying for his Dad. Two Deans. Both fly. Same airplanes. Small village. So…Dean Junior’s first nickname was PeeWee Dean, then as he grew older and outgrew the “PeeWee” it was modified to Big Dean and Little Dean; and subsequently further shortened to just “Big D” and “Little D”, which seemed acceptable to all concerned including the two of them.

Oh. And there was one other thing Little D inherited from his father. Much as had Gramma CloudDancer repeatedly warned me as a tad against the FEDs with her pet phrase “I’d sooner sleep with a rattlesnake than shake hands with a FED!”; Big D also genetically passed on a bottomless well of wariness and caution:peeper to his namesake when operating anywhere within a hundred miles of a FED.

Chapter Five - But...HONEST...The Dog Ate My Homework!

[FONT=&quot]It was Little D. And probably only Little D, benefit of his father’s genes, could’ve pulled this off with a straight face[/FONT]:-?[FONT=&quot] and gotten clean away with it. It was that doggone Gohdeen disarming charm and humor (and a good dash of acting ability as well) that saved Little D that day.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Another common trait was shared by both Big and Little D. And although I’m not quite sure it wasn’t anything genetic; after years of knowing Big D, I could certainly tell it was hereditary. And that was a strong tendency not to sweat the small stuff. A tendency to focus on the important stuff so much that an occasional small, seemingly trivial matter, might sneak up to bite one of ‘em. An offshoot of this tendency was to pretty much especially ignore stuff they considered to fall into the “mickey mouse” category. Things like…oh…carrying a wallet with your license and medical in it. [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Now admittedly, both Big and Little D had a well-known penchant for forgetfulness; although honestly, I believe half the time when either of them said “I forgot.”, what it really meant was “I didn’t think it was important enough to remember.” [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]And further in the defense of Little D, it’s not like he was the only guy in Kotzebue running around without a wallet in his pants pocket that day. In a town where you never… and I mean you never in those days were ever asked for identification. For anything. Driving. Whatever. And if the clerk in the store was new in town and you were writing a check and didn’t have any I.D. on you; the clerk would just holler out “Hey! Anybody know this guy’s name?” And then two or three people would holler back your name at him. It matched the name on the check, so now you were good to go! Nobody hardly had credit cards. So what are you gonna’ need a wallet for? Answer? For when the FEDs come to town![/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Now, I know that Little D knew they were there. ‘Cause they’d just gotten in on the afternoon Weinie bird the previous day. First I passed the news upriver to him as he was outbound to Shungnak late in the evening and then I heard him pass it along to Dameon who was just landing back in Ambler, further upriver. But apparently, whatever brain cells he’d stored the info in he’d killed the previous evening at the Pondu or the Whale. And so off he went for his first flight of the day the following morning without (as usual) his wallet, in which was safely stored his pilot’s license and medical.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Now the FED involved in this story is now long since retired to a warmer desert climate. His first name was Frederick, but I don’t think he liked it much because he’d always introduced himself as Timmy Timmerson. He was scrawny and tough and looked like he was made outta’ old well broke-in shoe leather. Reminded me of a piece of beef jerky.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]And let me tell ya’…ol’ Timmy was one FED that took his job damn serious. He wasn’t really mean, although he did like to have everybody think he was the meanest hombre to ever wave an F.A.A. badge in your face. But as I discovered in later years, he did have a real soft side. He was one of several FEDs I knew over my two decade stay in Alaska that were subject to frequent, unexpected, and unprovoked attacks of common sense. A not common enough affliction among the breed, let me tell ya’. But until Timmy got to know you and whether your personal commitment to safety was real or just window dressing, you got no slack from him. He could be a real by-the-book dude as bad as any of ‘em.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Thus my friends the stage is now set, the casting complete, and we draw the curtain back to reveal…[/FONT]

CloudDancer[/FONT]:anon [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
Chapter Six - (cont'd)

[FONT=&quot]As Timmy’s arms uncrossed and dropped to his sides, and his jaw dropped to the gravel, Velma and I first looked for a moment at each other, before returning our attention to the now disappearing Cessna 207, which now appeared to be headed for the departure end of runway 08 it seemed. Following the aircraft’s path, by swiveling his head, Timmerson remained otherwise motionless, mouth still agape, as indeed the Cessna 207 turned onto the runway accelerating from right to left and then lifting off to disappear into the east from which it had so recently arrived.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Velma and I turned to each other and broke out laughing, having clearly deduced in our own minds at least most of what was going through Dean’s in the last couple of minutes. And as Timmy spun on his heel in the gravel parking lot to march determinedly back toward the office door, we quickly put on our straightest faces and resumed our seats. For there was no doubt in our minds he would be loaded for bear now![/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]And just as he burst back through the office door, his face the color of a beet and shouting “You get that kid ba….” [/FONT]:onfire:[FONT=&quot] Little D’s voice again broke into the scene from the radio’s speaker.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]“Uuuuh…HEY! Down there in the office…uuuuh…these guys sure don’t seem to know exactly what in the heck it is they wanna’ do here. Uuuuuh….they started fighting about where they were gonna’ go when they got to town waaay back out over Kobuk Lake and……uuuuh….well…it just kept getting worse ‘til we landed and jeez….uuuuh…yeah…they decided that….oh….the hell with it. Just take ‘em back home! So I’m off for Noorvik and return again at….uh….twelve after the hour. Should be back on the next hour! See ya’!! [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Timmy, who had stood frozen just inside the doorway since the beginning of this long, drawn-out, and completely uninterrupted transmission, now marched over to the front of Velma’s desk. Nodding at the radio he growled out with barely contained anger in each syllable directed at Velma, “MAY I?”. And Velma looked up at him as she handed over the microphone she had been holding, her face an absolute deadpan mask of puzzled innocence[/FONT]:Gpenguin:[FONT=&quot], with the exception of her green eyes which danced with barely restrained laughter. “Why certainly Timmy!”[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]And of course, as you can well imagine, there was no response from our young hero to the two or three tersely worded attempts to find him on the VHF.[/FONT]:singer:[FONT=&quot] “Curses! Foiled AGAIN”! as the sinister children’s cartoon character Snidley Whiplash was so oft forced to utter! I could hardly keep from busting a gut and falling off my stool myself. It was going to be a l-o-o-o-ng forty-five minutes until Little D returned from wherever-the-hell it was he really went to, as Timmerson then parked himself on one of the waiting room plastic chairs, determined to wait out the youngster who was trying to pull a fast one on him.[/FONT]

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Chapter Seven - What Goes Up Must Come Down....Somewhere!

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Chapter Eight - I Call...Show Me Your Cards

[FONT=&quot]Well…there’s really not much left of this story. As you might suspect, Mr. F.A.A. tried to get all “high and mighty”[/FONT]:preach[FONT=&quot] on Little D when he rolled back into Leroy’s place with his empty Cessna 207. But there really wasn’t a rotten thing he could do, as Dean had covered all his tracks, almost completely literally as well as figuratively.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]He’d filed another round-robin flight plan to Noorvik after racing off runway 08 and disappearing to the east. And just as he had stated when filing…there was seven souls on board for departure and…only one…when he returned. He disappeared into the east, and returned FROM the east. And fortunately[/FONT]:Gparp:[FONT=&quot], he remembered to lollygag around for awhile[/FONT]:Gworm:[FONT=&quot] before calling in for airport advisories, once again giving his position as “over the west shore (of Kobuk Lake) inbound”.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]So Timmy hollered at him and glared at him and shook his finger at him and threatened Little D[/FONT]:onfire:[FONT=&quot] with all sorts of future dire consequences trying to break his story. Of course this occurred all during and after Timmerson had whipped out his pocket spiral notebook and fancy pen and inspected Little D’s license and medical and checked every seat pocket for a briefing card and made Dean dig out his sectionals and Alaska supplement and on….and on…and…[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]And through it all, Little D just stood there with a “cat that ate the canary” grin on his face.[/FONT]:Gpenguin:[FONT=&quot] Except of course, when he wasn’t busy being extremely polite, nodding his head up and down vigorously in complete agreement, and saying **** like “Yes sir…ooooh you betcha’….uh-huh…I understand… y-e-e-es SIR!”[/FONT][FONT=&quot] as Timmy chewed on his ass up one side and down the other.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Timmy knew there was something fishy about the whole deal, but he just couldn’t put a good hand together. [/FONT]:banghead:[FONT=&quot] And Little D knew he couldn’t. Timmy drew every card he could and still held a crap hand, while Dean stood pat, never drew a card, and with the glow from his halo[/FONT]:angel:[FONT=&quot] (which of course, is held up by a pair of horns….) bathing his innocent cherubic-looking smiling poker face, walked away a winner without ever showing his own cards. [/FONT]And the FED walked away...:splat:well...let's just say Timmy was a liddle frustrated!

[FONT=&quot]And so ends your introduction to Little D. Which really was the point of this particular Chronicle, as I have another funny story to tell you about me and Little D and the Feds. But you needed to get acquainted with everybody, and their personalities, before you would able to obtain the maximum enjoyment out of the next CloudDancer Alaskan Chronicle. So…okay. We’re done here now.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]You can turn the page already.[/FONT]:pop:


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Aaawwww....SHUCKS! :Gpinkgrin: THANK ye' kind sir...