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"GOOD! We're VFR!!"

Chapter Seven - Just How DARK is Dark??

Dan opens the small door under the left wing and jumps in to scamper forward into the cockpit with me close on his heels after firmly securing the cabin door behind us. Tired of crawling and twisting among the four or five seats laying haphazardly every which way about the small cabin, I stack them to one side and note that we have all five and the bench seat on the left wall holds two seats as well. As I shoe-horn my lanky 6'2" frame through the narrow “door” and into the right seat of the “cockpit” Dan already has the left engine at a rumbling low idle and the three blades of the right engine are rotating in a jerky manner through each individual compression stroke of the six cylinders of the Lycoming on the right wing. As my seat belt snaps locked a moment later, the right engine finds a couple of consecutive compression strokes it likes for ignition and the number two engines joins into a smooth harmony with it’s partner.

Just for nothing, Dan reaches down and hits the switch for the Janitrol. The fan whines the cold air rushes about the cabin and......nothing else happens. :( But, noting that even the cold air blowing through the defrost vents somewhat slows the accrual rate of the internal frosting from our warm breathing Dan decides to leave it run anyway.

Dan asks me to take out my license and scrap the windows clear again and I do; noting that indeed the frost thickness is greatly reduced, the frost almost peeling off the insides of the windows in paper (extremely) thin shavings instead of the heavier type hoarfrost they had earlier inside.

Having decided that he wants to do a full throttle runup for a couple of minutes Dan taxis over to the west end of the ramp well clear of all the other airplanes and firmly locks the brakes.

The thin frost has already rebuilt on the inside of the windows and is thickening, but as we intend to remain static for a few minutes Dan tells me to give the scraping a break for a while and just sit back and hold the toe brakes as a backup to the parking break.

Then, as Dan begins advancing the throttles and the Lycomings dull rumble outside gradually begins shifting to a higher pitched defiant roar....we hear a WHOOOOSH...and almost imMEdiately feel a rush of warm air in our faces! Amazingly...somehow......fuel has now found it’s way through the empty feed line to the combustion chamber of the Janitrol and is blazing merrily away within. Life is getting BETTER as both engines scream in the cold night air, the tips of the propellor blades cutting through the frigid air outside less than a foot or two aft and outboard of my head.

After a full two minutes straining against the brakes at full power the engines haven’t missed so much as a BEAT and everything is looking pretty rosy when I hear Dan holler at me over the roar of the engines.....”Well......As long as she’s running so fine and we are warming up and all......We may as well go FLY, HUH??!!” 8)

And as he pulls the throttles slowly toward close, stopping about 2200 RPM for a quick mag check and to cycle the props,.............the JANITROL loses either fuel or fire or....who KNOWS??!! But the damn thing quit again after only having run for about two minutes and clearing only HALF the forward windscreen. :evil: Within a matter of less than 10 seconds from the time we noticed the heater quit, it is alREADY pumping out icy cold air again. In another minute or two, the inner plexiglass had cooled sufficiently so as to allow the frost to begin coating the inner side of the windows.

The fact that the Janitrol had crapped out on us after running for only a couple of minutes and that the windows were now fully frosted over again on the inside; made up really only a SMALL portion of the total feeling of apprehension brought on by Don’s suggestion that....”we may as well go FLY, Huh??”

Chapter Eight - "Good! We're VFR!!"


I will be forever GRATEFUL for MANY things that night. :-? It was cold. We were LIGHT, with no pax and only about two hours of fuel. But MOSTLY I will be grateful that Dan was not headed anywhere in particular that night on that takeoff. Ergo his plan was to go straight ahead and stay in the pattern instead of making on of his usual “three-point-TAKEOFFS”!! :x And the cold temps and light load assisted both in rapid acceleration and improved flying performance which is going to be coming in REAL HANDY any moment now...you see...........


RATS! My dear CloudDancer aficiandos. I regret that, yet again, I must leave you, as well as our hero...AND all three wheels hangin’. Like the old song says....”My bags are packed. I’m ready to go..........” Yet again I must leave on a jet plane. Unfortunately headed for a whole BUNCHA’ green, yaller, and even some RED $%#@ on the radar summary. :Gscared:

This....really.....HOOVERS!! I WANT.....to go to God’s Country. But.......NO!!
I have to go to ORD. :bad-words:

Okay aviation trivia fans. WHY is Chicago O’Hare’s Known as ORD in airplane lingo.

No fair answering if you are from Chicago...even Illinois for that matter.

Everyone have a SAFE weekend. Looks like another tough night weather wise for the MidWest. Make sure to keep an ear tuned for the storm watch sirens out there and take care of your families. Meanwhile I will cross the continent three times before returning to extricate our frightened flyer from falling outta’ the dark night skies next Wednesday.

CloudDancer...Over and Out......(gawd I love that big timey airplane talk)
Thanks for a great story, CloudDancer. Sorry you must go to go to work. It is an affliction brought on by Adam, an apple and a temptress in a garden a long time ago. Bummer.
Tailwinds and I look forward to more.

Hi Boys and Girls!!

And the prize goes to..drum roll...WIflyer!! :up

Indeed Old Orchard is why Chicago's O'Hare Airpor's airline code is ORD. Because the original one runway and terminal were built on the site of an Old apple Orchard..............

"Tell WIFlyer what he's won Johnny............."

"Weeeeeeell !! WIflyer has won a copy of the (yet to be published) CloudDancer's Alaskan Aviation Chronicles" autographed by the CloudDancer HISself !!"

Now for our home game players, skipping of course all you Illinioans (you'll get your chance to win a copy late)......for BONUS POINTS and a autographed (fully clothed) picture of the CloudDancer for the first poster with the correct answer.......

Can someone tell me WHO Mister or Mz "O'Hare" is/was and WHY the airport now bears his or her name????? (No fair using the internet....) :whis:

Your humble scribe must now return to his hotel room in this two-and-a-quarter-star "deluxe" hotel (well, at LEAST they have a free crew lounge with internet access) and repack my back, mount my turbojet powered ozone depleter and return to my home domicile and prepare once again to wage battle agin the best Puerto Rican imports. :drinking:

The saga (and conclusion) of the Aero Commander shall continue here....later this week. maybe even with an installment tamale morning, depending on how early in rise to face the day.

Thanks for playing folks.....and GOOD LUCK.

Butch O'Hare, Navy Ace in WWII..... also his father was Al Capone's lawyer.

Name was changed in 1949 From Orchard field to O'Hare in honor of Lt Cmdr Edward "Butch" O'hare, WWII ace.
He shot down 5 Japanese bombers in one engagement and is credited with saving the USS Lexington. He was awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He was later lost during the "great Marianas turkey shoot" in Nov. 1943.
CD you are a great storyteller. You have lived the life a lot of us dream about. I always look forward to each new installment of the CD chronicles, keep 'em comming!!!
Now at about mid field on a right downwind leg and climbing through 2500 feet with the windows defrosting at a nice clip I again allow the airplane to roll into a fifteen degree right bank and Dan asks “Where’re you going NOW?”

I said “ Well Dan, I’m thinking I’ll keep climbing ‘til we get about four or five thousand feet under us so we got some room and time to work any MORE problems that might jump up and BITE US IN THE ASS and I’d PREFER to be directly overhead the airport in that case as well, so since we have the whole of the arctic airspace to ourselves tonight we may as well do it over the field and climb in a right hand circle as long as that damn wheel is dragging us that way anyway!!” :bad-words:

“Okay...GEE whiiiiiZ. Are you MAD or something??” he asks. I say (lying) “No. Not really. I’m just tired and hungry and that makes me GRUMPY.”

Meanwhile Dan has been working the frequency selector knobs on the KX170 and as the digits click into position for 123.0 I hear Rod’s voice coming over the speaker in mid-word saying “...uys DOing up there? WHAT’s going on? Dan? Do you read base?”


They spend a couple of moments discussing the past half hours events and potential causes and how the plane is performing now, which I mostly ignore. I am now really enJOYing flying this “hot” twin. By far the hottest machine I’ve ever gotten my nineteen year old hands on and I am banking back and fourth in 20 to 25 degree banks flying figure eights and concentrating on maintaining my A/S at EXACTLY 165 MPH and my altitude at PRECISELY 5000 feet, with the ball centered directly and evenly between the two vertical lines on the slip/skid glass portion of the needle and ball instrument.

So it take just a few seconds for the impact of Rod’s two questions to Dan to hit me.

“Hey Dan. So how much gas you got left and how many SEATS do you have with you???”
Saaaaaay WHAT? Now, Why would Rod ask THAT, I wonder. :(

Dan replies “Oh, I dunno’. I got GOOD hour and a half’s worth of go-juice and.....lemme’ see......” (this as he turns to look back in the cabin).....”I think we got all seven seats here. Why. What you’ got?”

“Well. Marie Armey called down from Noatak. I guess they got some people want to come down. But, you know, it’s up to you. I mean since you’re already UP there ‘n all. You know, if it runs GOOD all the way to Noatak.......” and Rod leaves the statement hanging in mid-air as his transmission ends.

NOW they have my atTENtion and I am looking at Dan intently, trying to discern his thought process. SURELY...he WOULDn’t...after ALL THIS??!!

And then he looks at me, gets that GOOfy grin on his angelic chubby little face and, as he puts his right hand on his control wheel and wiggles it slightly to indicate he is taking control;
he simultaneously starts a left turn out of the traffic pattern to the north and says to me “GOOD!! Now let’s make some MONEY with this bird!!”

Rod is again coming over the speaker saying, “But, you know. If you’re not SURE....” and again leaves it hanging in mid-air. To which Dan responds. “No sweat. I’m already northbound!! We’ll be there in 15 minutes!! Got it COVERED!!”

Yes. Dan is SURE as Dan can be. I too am sure. Sure that DAN, into whose hands I have repeatedly placed my life for temporary transport and safekeeping, only to just as often as not regret it,.....well....I am SURE that Dan will teach me many, many valuable lessons in life.

With another heavy sigh and the slightest shake of my head I wonder to myself if I shall live long enough to make use of the new knowledge. :help

I note that already, from this altitude, the twinkling twenty or so street lamps of Noatak are visible in the distance through the cold sparkling crystal clear air from a distance of over twenty miles. Ruefully, I look back over my left shoulder at the jumble of passenger seats that have fallen back into a pile in the center of the aft cabin due to the extreme airmanship and manhandling of the controls in the thirty minutes or so.

Seven seats. Five “stand alone” with their seat belts mounted to the side frames and two seats on the “bench” along the port side of the cabin wall.

Seven LEGAL passenger seats I think to myself. So at MOST, even by Gunderson standards, we can’t POSSIBLY fit more than fourteen people BACK HERE....(I HOPE.) :yikez:
Hiya WingNut (I LIKE that HANDLE) :up

I thank you for the kind words and encouragement!! It's really a pleasure to know that many folks enjoy the stories.

I have been QUITE lucky and blessed, mostly through some absolutlely INCREDIBLE twists of, fate, karma, and quite a few times just the Good Lord lending me a helping hand or giving a little guidance when I needed it.

I truly feel like I have lived through ALOT of adventures, and I'll try to keep writing about them as long as ya'll keep reading about 'em.

You're up in some pretty darn beautiful country there WingNut. I can only imagine these days just how MUCh fun it must be to soar across the tops of the pines and firs on a nice spring weekend afternoon, drinking in gulp after gulp of fresh clean Pacific NW pine scented air as you wheel and cavort across the forest with the door wide open.

Light your next campfire for me. LAWdy I miss the open country!!

Well all you CloudDancer JUNKIES!!

So ends another cliff-hanging-by-the-nails, :crazyeyes: pulse pounding, :eek: breath holding :help aviation action packed day-in-the-life of your favorite fledgeling flyer.

I know SOME of you readers are at least MILDly surprised (and possibly disappointed) that I managed to make it through an enTIRE story without actually engaging in any sort of ACTUAL (as opposed to fantasy) physical grappling with yet another comely young Eskimo lass. :luv2:

Well.............SHAME on you!! Get your chin(s) on the curb and your mind(s) out of THE GUTTER!! :whis: Diiiiiiis - GUST- ing!! (I JOKES!!)

I TOLD you. These stories are REAL. And NOBODY...not even CloudDancer in his PRIME can get laid EVERY DAY!! Okay! ExCEPT maybe Hugh Hefner.

Anyway. Your favorite usually in SOME kinda' hot water aviator shall return next week, probably on the 10th I think, with the first installment of our next story.

I'd give you a hint of what's to come, but I'm torn between going for one of two or three I have in mind.

Sometimes it's hard to figure what will tickle one's funny bone.

Have a safe and enJOYable weekend everyone while I head for the Garden State to start off my weekly four day "hostage crisis".

Your Warped Writer Wishing YOU a Wunneful Weekend

CloudDancer :howdy