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If you EVER do that AGAIN....


Registered User
L. Ronstadt - J. Ingram Duet
I remember when I was a young pup, just learning how to fly with my Stoodent Pilot's License(*) in my pocket.

The instructors ALLways made a BIG DEAL out of maintenance, checking logbooks, writing up discrepencies et. al. In general, they made quite an impression on me that maintenance was VERY SERIOUS STUFF and was to be accorded as much attention as the actual flight planning!!

This stern admonitions continued on through training for my commercial and instrument licences as well. I understood clearly. Or at least THOUGHT I did.

Then....I went to ALASKA!! :drinking:

(Story time starts shortly kiddies).

(*) Student Pilot's License - License to scare the CRAP out of one's self
Private Pilots License - License to scare the CRAP out of OTHER people too
Commercial Pilots License - License to scare the CRAP outta' other people AND charge them MONEY for the priveledge.
Instrument Pilots License - License to scare the CRAP out of other people, charge them money, and do it all without having to see too much stuff.
Air Transport Rating (with) Type Endorsments - License to scare the CRAP outta' yourself (still, occasionally) AND progressivelly larger and larger groups of passengers all at one time. While still getting paid, ONLY ALOT LESS THAN YOU USED TO MAKE. :evil:
Chapter One - I Came, I Saw, I...was CONFUSED

We deplaned using the rear integral airstairs of the Alaskan Airlines Golden Nugget B-727 in July of 1973.

Still groggy from the 16 plus hour sojourn from DFW through SFO then SEA, ANC and now finally Kotzebue, Alaska thirty-seven miles above the Arctic Circle, I had fallen asleep shortly after lift-off out of ANC and had only awoken as the Alaska crew “dropped” their big aluminium airsheen “on the numbers” of Runway 08, jumped on the binders, threw the buckets open and brought the thundering herd to a stop with1000 feet of the 5800 foot runway left over. Holy CRAP was THAT exciting!! But darn! I didn’t get to see Kotzebue from the air.

The flight attendant at the rear door who bade me goodbye was a real stunner too, but she must have been at LEAST 25 or so, and got to hang out all day with REAL airline pilots. I figured no chance for some pimply faced 19 y.o. “wannabe” airline pilot with a skinny log book and no money like me to impress her. So, I limited my AUDIBLE goodbye pleasantries to a polite “thank you, Ma’am” as momma had raised me to say; all the while plotting in my hormonally overcharged brain all the different ways I was going to “do the nasty” with a girl just like her some day when I became a real airline pilot. Stupid me. I mean, I thought the stewardesses were all PANTING for real airline pilots. It would be two decades yet before I would find out about the REAL relationships between pilots and their stewar....OOPS....I mean....Flight Attendants!!

My feet hit the tarmac and I have taken no more than two or three steps, still beneath the tall overhanging T-tail of the giant Boeing; when a ROAR of sound blasts over the scene sending vibrations through my bones from it’s timbre. Out of NO where... across the top of the one story log cabin terminal building peels a Cessna 185 with some protuberance hanging from it’s belly in at LEAST a 30 degree bank. The engine bellows as the prop control is rammed forward and I spin 180 degrees on my heels, mouth agape as I follow the airplane flashing overhead at no more than 150 feet!! It has somewhat overshot it’s “final approach” turn to....where??!! OH! I see in the distance, about a half mile to the south another Cessna rising from what must be another runway.

Sure enough in another couple of seconds, this (must be) WILD MAN has slipped, skidded, I dunno’...SOMETHING sideways to the left, lined up, snaps his wings level, whacks the throttle and drops down pretty as you please, out of sight, behind that.....what the HELL kinda’ airplane is THAT starting a takeoff roll on Runway 08? It has GOT to be the biggest airplane I have EVER seen being drug about by one single RADIAL??!! engine. This leviathan, which to me appears at a distance to be ALmost as large as the sleek Boeing from which I have just alighted, rolls no more than 400 feet...I SWEAR. The tail is in the air from almost the instant of forward motion. The damn thing seems to be barely moving yet, like a helicopter in translational lift, the tail continues to rise higher until seemingly IT drags the rest of the airplane off the ground WITH it.

Barely out of ground effect...my GOD...HE’S GOIN” DOWN!! At no more than forty feet, not yet a third of the way down the runway, he’s losing it and falling off on the right wing and I am SICK thinking I am going to watch this crash helplessly. Mind thy airspeed my instructor always said. But....WAIT..... he’s...he’s NOT going down. Huh? That’s a TURN!! Continuing his turning climb through a southeasterly heading this....whatEVER is it.....continues it’s labored ascent, engine rattling and clattering until it disappears from sight over the ridge bordering the lagoon to the southeast, having staggered to the dizzying height (around HERE apparently) of what appears to be a nosebleed inducing 300 feet.

All this has occurred in no more than one minute from the first sound of the 185's engine.

I still stand, mouth hanging wide open.....(“You tryin’ to catch FLIES boy?”, my old man would say to me....) abstively posolutely FLABBERGASTERED by what I am seeing. As I glance around the tarmac finally regaining my senses I see two or three other odd-looking airplanes I’ve never even seen in pictures before.

As I turn back and lurch somewhat unsteadily toward the “terminal”, I remember shaking my head and muttering to myself....”GeeeeZUS Toto! We SURE as hell ain’t in Kansas no more!”
Well....I duuno'.....whaddaya' Supercubbers think? :-?

It's been so long since I've tried to do this, I might have to work at this one kinda' slow.

I mean I've got the punch line (it's the title, once again)....but I'm not real positive about how to get to it or how much laughter I can find a way to fit into the setup along the way.

Real life MANY times is certainly funnier than fiction. And those who have followed the (mis)adventures of the always thirsty and eternally horny CloudDancer know that I change ONLY the names to protect the innocent. Otherwise, the facts are as you read them....okay....MAYbe I stretched the truth a LIDDLE bit...ONE TIME only. But I do strive for accuracy as best as an old man's memory and faded logbooks can make 'em.

Anyway...the medico gave me some new drugs to take for a while. So maybe I'll go take some and see if they can help get the ol' creative juices flowing.

Our fledgling young bush-pilot-to-be wil be back soon, I'm sure, to commence ta' learnin' the ways of the Arctic. :p

Chapter Two - Hello. Mr. Bach I Presume??

I had come north to the Great Land to work for the Gunderson family owned charter company, having met one of the three Gunderson brothers by sheer coincidence at a Denny’s restaurant in Fort Worth weeks before over a cup of coffee.

Dan Gunderson had come down to the Lower 48 to obtain his ATP in a DC-3 at Meacham Field in Fort Worth in response to an ad in Flying magazine. One of those odd twists of fate, or was it destiny, brought us together. Over several more cups of coffee he talked me into going to Alaska.

I was the first pilot the family had ever brought in from “Outside” and only the third or fourth pilot ever to not be “home grown” at that point to have come to Kotzebue. I’m not counting the guy who’d come a couple of weeks earlier but bailed after only three days. Apparently he, being from the flat lands of middle America, did not react well when an errant (relatively) high-flying seagull came crashing through his windscreen as he was stooging along the beach in a Cessna 207 in the fog.

The gull by all accounts was also fairly pissed about the whole incident as well. Somehow getting past a prop running at cruise speed and then smashing through a plexiglass windshield at some speed around ninety knots; you’d think the gull would have simply been grateful to be still able to flaps it’s own wings and would’ve jumped out the (now open) back double doors to resume his journey. Not so.

Unaccustomed to flying at such speeds so effortlessly, this silly bird not only refused the obvious exit, but was not in the mood to remain either seated or QUIET it seems. It immediately set about flapping and screeching,
Clouddancer, do you have any books published?? I would get in line to ante up for some of your offerrings.
I still find myself chuckling at the thought of the Cub driver passing his rubber boot back to his better half.

Great stories!

Uh-h-h-h. Thankya'......THANk ya' verrrrmush! (As Elvis would say) 8)

Kind words Steve. As of yet, I do NOT have a book published although all these stories are being copyrighted so that I might publish a book when I have written sufficient material.

Given my Doc's recent encouragement to pursue a hobby OTHER than drinking :drinking: and chasing girls too young for me, (*) there is now a good chance that this will happen sooner than it would have otherwise, as I find writing to have somewhat (usually) the same calming and stress relieving benefits of excessive drinking.

(*) Have you ever watched a barking dog chasing a car down the street and wondered, "Now just WHAT in the heck would the damn mutt do if the car stopped ANYWAY??!!" :eek:
Keep 'em comin', CloudDancer, I'm laughing at every word. Glad to see you back!!

Chapter Three - Use....More...FLAPS??!!

Never having hired pilots from “Outside” except for the disaster mentioned in the previous chapter, Dan and his other brother Rod who flew with him in the family business, were at somewhat of a loss as to how to turn this greenhorn Texas teenager into an Arctic aviator without anybody, especially them or their customers, getting hurt or killed in the process. :( Much less the company fleet was already critically short of flyable airplanes as the town’s only two GOOD commercial A & P’s, Dudley and Clark, had been on a binge down at the Golden Whale for the last four days. This is apparently their equivalent of a “recurrent Annual Refresher Training Seminar” only with lots of beer and fried pork rinds between and during the various workshops and alternating “lectures”. LOTS of beer. :agrue:

Given that these two fellas, when clear headed, are a couple of the best wrenches in the state; it is no surprise that they demand and get top dollar while making their own rules and they treat ALL the competing operators the same way.

So until this dynamic duo gets their fill of Oly :drinking: and pork rinds all the four air taxi operators in Kotzebue just try to keep their fleets holding together as best they can. Ergo, any bent aluminum would be a particular hardship on the operator and give a competitive edge to his neighbors.

Dan and Rod had learned to fly almost before they were out of fourth grade and by the age of 13 were stealing one of their uncle Eddie’s airplanes to fly 350 NM to Fairbanks to see a movie. They’d been gassing and oiling planes since they were big enough to work the barrel pump while standing on a Blazo box.

Dan had flown with me for about 45 minutes in a Cessna 206 in Fort Worth...AFTER he agreed to hire me IF I finished my instrument rating before I came to Alaska. With only about 240 hours total time the day we met, he (wisely) insisted that I NOT come North without it. The 45 minute ride he took with me that day assured him somewhat that I could operate with some minimal degree of safety on a clear day, at least. And after proudly demonstrating my best textbook short-field landing and takeoff (landed on a 3500 foot runway and came to a stop with over three, four hundred feet left over, by golly!!); was somewhat perplexed by his response to my question “Well. How’d Id do? Was that GOOD?” “Well” he says, “I’m pretty sure we can TEACH ya’!!” Only he really didn’t have a clue how!

Finally, he just decided, with crossed fingers, to throw the damn baby in the pool and take a chance the kid would swim rather than sink.

Knowing most of my time had been in 150's and 172's, and having to happen to have a couple of 172s in the family fleet......actually I should explain here. In this case the word “fleet”, while it might conjure up normally a vision of multiple identical airplanes all painted alike; well I’ve used it rather LOOSELY to describe the family’s gathering together of ONE 1960 something baby Aero Commander, ONE 1954 Beechcraft Twin Bonanza (for some reason called “the T-Bone”), ONE sometime post WWII vintage Dornier SkyServant, ONE Piper Comanche 260, ONE Cessna 207, TWO Cessna 172s, and ONE Cessna 150 which Dan was using to teach his 12 y.o. daughter how to fly in. Between the four single engine Cessna aircraft there was ONE VHF radio. It was NOT in the airplane I was to be given.

My “training” for my first professional job was a mix. For the first two days it went like this.

Dan would open up a sectional. He’d point to Kotzebue on the map. And then he’d point to somewhere else and say “Okay. Here’s Ambler, Shungnak, and Kobuk. Go find each one. Land and takeoff. Do NOT stop or TALK to anybody. Go find the next one and then come home when you are done.” Then would follow a good four or five minute “briefing” on each village runway and approaches, obstacles etc. oft times accompanied by some crudely pencil sketched drawings. Then before I could hardly whip out my E6-B and plotter Dan would be shoving me into the airplane saying “figure it out on the way kid. Yer wastin’ DAYlight” (this in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”)

Well, so much for flight PLANning; not realizing that by doing this he was assuring that I was going to learn to think quickly on my feet while in motion, and make sure the big ticket KILL your ass items were covered.

I’d return four or five hours later, and as I chowed down on the always hot cheeseburgers and cold Pepsis he’d have waiting for me as he topped off my Skyhawk yet again. About the time I wolfed down the last bite of food he’d spread open the sectional. “Okay. Now HERE’s Noatak, Kivalina, and Pt. Hope. Go find each one. Land and takeoff. Do NOT stop or TALK to anybody. Go find the next one and then come home when you are done.” Brief, brief, brief. Scribble, scribble, scribble. Now GO!! And the second time around was a little easier and by the third time I just joyously leapt into my trusty stead after double checking the gas caps and head off for the other side of the map. Man! Was I rackin’ up the hours.

Well, after three days of that, fifteen villages and over a five percent (13 hours) increase in my total time as a pilot, it was time to move on to the next phase of this off the cuff new-hire training program.

Quite relieved, and slightly proud of his correct (thus far) assessment of my limited capabilities; happenstance presented Dan with the opportunity to give his pupil (me) some first hand important knowledge as he was called to “pick up some folks” in Noatak, 43 NM away on the 325 degree radial in the Noatak Valley.

Even in the Arctic it can get quite “warm” inland in the summer, and Dan had rightly guessed he would probably be able to fill all the seats if he took the BIG (to me) Cessna, the 207. This would provide the perfect conditions he figured, to teach me the first of MANY tricks the bush pilots know that aren’t taught in the flight schools I learned in.

My first indication that this was to be something other than a “routine” flight was watching Dan measure a precise 15 gallons of 100/130 octane into the left wing tank of an airplane that carries 42 gallons in EACH WING. Urging me into the left seat Dan is giving me the opportunity to get some “heavy” time on the empty leg going up.

Having only four or five hours in a Cessna 206 under my belt at this point, Dan must quickly instruct me as to how to get this big beast fired up and moving in a matter of a few seconds. Time is precious when there are passengers waiting I learn, and we, as well as all the operators in town have a habit of frequently “pilfering” each others “loads”. Or, as my NEXT Boss in the future liked to say “I stole ‘em fair ‘n SQUARE.” :wink:

Noting that, when the master switch is turned on, NEITHER fuel gauge comes up off’ the “E”, (okay the left one came up a LITTLE) I am somehow comforted that I WITNESSED the fuel go IN to the left wing and at last glance it didn’t APPEAR to be leaking OUT. :(

I follow Dan’s quick instructions quickly and accurately and we are moving out of our gravel lot onto the thin strip of asphalt taxiway in less than thirty seconds after buckling in and slamming the doors shut.

Dan reaches up and flips on our King KX170B (yeah, this is the plane with the RADIO!!) While continuing to verbally prod me toward the runway...”’Okay...set the trim about here....cowl flaps are open...keep it rolling...keep it rolling....no, no, I already DID a mag check this MORNING!”..Uh, Uh,...Okay. Before I know it we are already at 65 MPH and it’s time to start easing the nose back. We are OUTTA’ here!!

There’s no DME in those days, no radar, and no remote FSS facilities either. Once out of line-of-sight with OTZ you are on your OWN man. Kotzebue’s VOR operates off a generator that likes to flake out a lot, and is given to frequent power surges and slumps, making for frequently unreliable signals or long total failures. And Dan already plans that I will be spending my next few months (if I stay and SURVIVE) in 37Y, one of his 145HP Cessna 172s.

Now, 37Y is a TAD under-equipped for what I am used to. No navs. No coms. (Who’s there to talk to ANYway, most of the time) got an old early 60's Narco “coffee-grinder” ADF...but DON’T move the knob. It is set to 356. The Hotham beacon and the ONLY beacon around for over 180 nm in ANY direction so DON’T move the knob cause the overhead speaker is broke and if you get it off frequency we might not be able to FIND it again there is no HEATER and oh, yeah. Remember that the artificial horizon reads a ten degree left bank when straight and level, but the needle and ball are pretty straight and accurate ALL the time.

Dan has apparently decided that based on my incident-free performance thus far, if I can find my way to Fairbanks and back in the other Skyhawk (with the GOOD horizon), and pass an F.A.A. Part 135 VFR checkride, he will give me 37 Yankee for the winter, and if I am alive still come breakup; he’ll give me a REAL airplane next year.

Accordingly, as he did in the village briefings, Dan now points out landmarks, and particularly MINUSCULE visual clues, I remember thinking at the time. “Here’s Lockhart Point and this is the mouth of the Noatak, and over there is so-and-so’s fish camp.” He talks non-stop continuously He references ALL landmarks in whole and even HALF minutes sometime, from either lift-off at Kotzebue or another adjacent landmark. He bases the numbers not on the speed of our present mount but ALWAYS on Cessna 172 cruise or slow flight speeds. I start making some effort to file these numbers away in my brain, as I have already determined that your only REAL no-go item around here is your TIMEX. And it BETTER be accurate

We go ripping across the top of Noatak with barely enough altitude to miss the top of the HF antennae tower rising from the clinic’s roof by no more than 10 feet. Something UNDER 100 feet agl. As the Citizen’s Band radio is not working in THIS airplane (EVERY house in the entire REGION has one or more “on” 24/7) this is the best as well as the most common way to alert your departing passengers that you are arriving to pick them up NOW. We chandelle up to a left downwind landing to the north, and as I do this and line up on final Dan points out to me how the tip of the left or western “finger” of some lake just about 3/4 of a mile south of the runway, that we are soon to overfly, lines up in a direct line with the LAST ELECTRIC STREET LAMP bolted to a tall pole on the north end of the village, a point almost two miles away. ReMEMber that he tells me and I wonder “Why?” to myself.

With full flaps we plop down on the south end of the 2800 foot runway and I notice the MUCH heavier Cessna 207...even as empty as we ARE sinks into the soft gravel of the runway MUCH more than did I and my empty 172 when I was here yesterday. I glance at the OAT as we taxi in and am amazed. It’s 75 degrees F!! Wow.!! And Look!! There are DOZENS...Jeez... maybe sixty or seventy people streaming out to the airstrip. OLD...I mean WAY old people ...like maybe fifty or sixty years or even OLDER, kids and toddlers. Man the whole village is out here it seems as Dan whacks the mixture control as I am just steering off the runway into the “ramp” area. Actually no more than a small gravel pad, slightly off the runway which is filled to overflowing with just our airplane and the people who have come out to meet us. Wow. I am STUNNED.

Well, my tail-draggin friends...Ol' CloudDancer's OWN tail is flat draggin' in the dust right about now. And Chapter Three turned out to be a little longer than I expected. So i'm afraid I'm gonna hafta' finish Chapter Three - Use...More....FLAPS tamale. Although I imagine many of you can see guess where CloudDancer is likely to wind up at the end of Chapter three. Or...CAN you? You just MAY be surprised. :eek:

See ya'll tamale.
This is becoming a real kewl topic! Great stories Clouddancer. Im right now in the middle of something pretty similar. My first pilot job, In the province of Mendoza (Argentina). Just beside the Andes. Flying 172 and 182. Of course is not alaska and we dont do the kind of operation you have there, but incredibly i feel pretty in the same situation than you there. Keep writing!

Chapter Four - A God Amongst the Mere Mortals 8)

Well, a few months passed and the new knowledge poured into my brain as fast as I could absorb it. I had flown to Fairbanks and come back with my VFR 135 checkride successfully completed.

I at least now knew the names and background and manufacturers of all the “oddball” air machines that you’d rarely, if ever see down south. DeHavallind’s Single and Twin Otter(s), not to mention the workhorse Beavers. The Dornier SkyServant with it’s stub-wing mounted engines, the Scottish Pioneer, Helio’s Courier and the piston and turbine Pilatus Porters.

Beech 18s with Garrets sitting on a nose gear and Beech 18s with PT-6s and a LONG pointy nose sitting on their tail-wheels.

There were Cessna’s of all size and most with belly pods, the “protruberance” that so puzzled my as the 185 ripped by me that first day. I would come to detest belly pods in the future.

I had learned a HUNDRED or more landmarks and could recognize them instantly from any direction as long as I could see two or three miles. But the trick was to be able to learn to look straight down from above in many cases, with only vertical visibility and STILL be able to identify them when you see them THAT way. I had no idea yet how much time I would spend flying “VFR” with ONLY vertical visibility or less.

Oh, and use more flaps was now a regular and frequently used part of my flying repertoire in my
all-too-often “just a little short of horsepower” Skyhawk.

The TRICKY part comes AFTER you get the air machine off the ground and “flying” in ground effect. It’s the flap reTRACTion that is critical and could kill you if not done just right. But as you would suspect, that was made clear and understandable by Happy Dan in the minutes following our previously documented departure from Noatak.

Suffice it to say that it’s a VERY slow retraction process which may cover MANY miles and/or minutes, in which case it’s a good thing to NOT have to dodge any obstacles in the first few miles after leaving the end of the runway behind.

I’ve learned that the number of passengers on any given flight might often NOT be limited by the number of seats on the plane, having watched the Wien Twin Otter deplane no less than 43 passengers one day along with it’s crew of two. Apparently the number of passengers loaded is quite often determined by a combination of Weather, when will the NEXT plane be (who knows) or when was the last one here (four days ago, it’s been storming SINCE then) , CASH or CREDIT, and lastly the size of the pilot’s ba.....er, ah......ENgines.

And in addition to all the important FLYing stuff I was learning; I was gaining QUITE a bit of knowledge and experiences in two other important areas of life as well!! Booze ‘n Babes!! :drinking: :love:

Well my aviator friends. I have, other than the constructive efforts I have made here, pretty much lollygagged and frittered away the whole damn day without getting anything else accomplished. Which, insofar as I must go fly another four day trip tamale; moving the unwashed masses of bargain hunters that my airline specializes in hauling from one fun-filled destination to another.

And even though THEY no longer find it necessary to dress up nice to ride the plane....my COMPANY (going BROKE hauling these losers) insists that MY attire be properly pressed and polished so that I might instill confidence and represent authority to these people. :whis:

Ergo, you shall all have to wait until...oh, lessee..... about 5 P.M. eastern on the 28th to find out the details of CloudDancer’s “higher education”.

Thanks for joining me. Ya’ll have a nice weekend.
A very, VERY large man seated behind the pilots chair holding what HAS to be a 15 year old boy on his lap sticks out a big right paw and introduces himself and Stanley and his son Stanley Jr.
Man, does this bring back some memories. The native Alaskans have some very large "lap children". Under Part 135 rules, a lap child is two years old or less. They insist that the child they have is really just big for his/her age. Sometimes, they have three kids under two.. and visual inspection will confirm that they are not triplets. Lap Children are not required to have either a seat or a seatbelt so the cabin can get crowded. They are supposed to remain on the parent's lap but kids are kids, no matter whether their village is in Alaska or 'outside' and they tend to roam about the cabin.
Recently, the Feds have gotten a bit more concerned about passenger weight and we have fewer problems of this nature.
Hi everybody!

back after racking up some more of that PIC multi-engine turbojet night IFR time (whoo-whoo) :roll:

Well, ya' never know. The way things go in the airline business I might have to polish up the old logboook any day now.

Just wanted to post a little something on accounta' I don't want to leave ya' hanging and coming to visit the thread for no results. Still finishing this chapter. More to come.

Now. Where WAS I? Oh, yeah. I think I was trying to fit my HEAD through the doorway....... :wink:

This was a hard flyin’ and hard partying buncha’ airplane drivers out here in the arctic wilderness. And here came I, full of youthful enthusiasm (and ignorance). :p

Constantly teased, as the youngest by about six years, and the least experienced (by THOUSANDS of hours); I was determined, having heard about the LAST guy; that I would show these guys I could keep up whether the game was flying, drinking, brawling or.......
WOMANizing 8) (for a more polite term).

And although the taunting was MOSTly good-natured, and the old-timers were generally VERY kind and generous in sharing their wisdom there was unquestionably somewhat of a slightly condescending “let’s wait and see how long this kid LASTS before we really take him under our wing and teach him ALL our tricks” sort of sentiment. :-?

So I overloaded when I was flying (like everybody else did) and overinDULGED when I wasn’t, ALSO like everybody else. It wasn’t long before I realized I was WAY out of my league and it would take years of practice to achieve the level of competence in flying and decadance in frolic that these men had achieved given my teetotaling strict Catholic upbringing. However, I must say, even the most crusty old bush driver could not fault my level of dedication to achievement. :drinking:
Why, in a matter of mere weeks I had become a functioning alcoholic with the morals and discretion of an alley cat.

THERE!! Guess I showed YOU GUYS, HUH!!

The enhancement of this (not entirely deserved) reputation as a somewhat indescriminent lover of females was a natural by-product of a number of factors.

I had arrived at the very, VERY tail end of the era where the bush pilot was, as he had been since the 1920's, the Right Hand of God to almost all people outside Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau. Seems the smaller the village or town, the more highly you were revered. In fact, up until that point a pretty young Eskimo girl could aspire to no greater status in life than to land and preferably MARRY a handsome aviator. :angel:

And let me tell you, many of these Inupiat women were downright GORGEOUS,
Well my fellow airpersons, I see by the number of increasing views that there are many others who, like me, must be trying to exert newly sought self-control over harmful addictions :Beer :morning: :pty: :censor:

or MAYbe THIS is the addiction you need to wean yourself from....

Nonetheless, I hope you'll all come back tomorrow for the next and final chapter of this, another CloudDancer Aviation Epic Saga!! :yikez:

I must finish the final Chapter tomorrow as that gives me Thursday to regale you with the first two chapters of ol' CD's next flying folly entitled
'GOOD!...We're VFR!!" afore I have to take off for another four day "hostage crisis" (as we cheerily refer to our scheduled trips at my wunnerful airline company) on Friday. The only upside of which is, for the next four weeks, I get long layovers in the Big Village on the Cook Inlet inCLUDing a big 31.5 hr. layover this weekend!! Whoo-Whoo!! I see a stop at The Great Alaskan Bush Company :crazyeyes: and Chilkoots :drinking: in my immediate future, not to mention Gwennie's for some reindeer sausage and sourdough pancakes. :p

"....there I wuz. Flat on mah BACk" :Gupsidown: 1 turnin' 'n 1 BURNin' :(

CloudDancer......we're OUTta' here!! :sleeping:
Hey Ya'll. Don't fret none. Been real busy today 'n Momma Clouddancer has dropped in to check on her young 'un. So I hafta' take the ol' gal out to Marie Callender's for din-din.

Should have the remainder of this done before midnite east coast time tonight.........


Your stories are a hoot. I suspect some of the folks from Outside don't realize just how accurately you're describing village life.

I know you are copyrighting these stories, but could I have permission to print this one off and send to a friend in the hospital in Anchorage? He's a state Fish and Wildlife Protection Trooper that wrecked his SuperCub last week while out on his trapline and got busted up pretty badly. He spent several years working out of Kotzebue and knows all the places you mention. I think he would get a kick out of your story. My only concern would be if he gets to laughing too hard and opens ups some stitches.

Well Jim - Afore them Fish 'n Feathers people got the idea to get their own airsheens (generally by confiscating 'em from the bootleggers)

Them and the State Troopers contributed quite abit to my logbook and bank account by chartering me for years. So I guess it's the least I could do. Hope it gives your friend some cheer.

Hey Jim. Do ya' 'spose if I PM'd you with my real name and DOB your buddy could check to see if there's still anybody interested in knowing of my whereabouts. :evil: I'm ALLmost positive that the statute of limitations has expired on everything...but I'd just like to be sure afore I go to Chilkoots this weekend, y'know? :wink:

Dudley and Clark (last seen at the Golden Whale in Chapter Two) were none too pleased when Rod had brought home “Adolf’s Revenge” as they had nicknamed the Dornier. Having both served in the 8th Air Force as B-17 mechanic’s and each having stowed away for a mission over Germany so they could take their own PERSONAL shots at some Nazis in their Focke-Wolfes and ME 109's as retribution for friends lost in previous battles; the VERY last thing they wanted to work on was the offspring of the machines that frequently (in the early years at least) had been tossing their bombs at THEM.

Add to that, the maintenance manuals for the airplane had been translated directly from German to English; giving REAL meaning to ‘losing a little SOMEthing in the translation”!! And since our flap problem was electrical apparently now we bring in the electrical schematics.....Clark and Dudley, electrical systems not exactly being their STRONG suits, were absolutely fit to be tied!!
So it was with reluctance, disgust, apprehension, and generally a piss-poor overall attitude towards not only this particular plane, but everyone who had ANY hand in designing or building the thing, that they approached a days work on it.

Now the flaps as I remember had definitely three...maybe four selections. The first was ten degrees, the second was twenty-five and I’m sure the full flap selection was forty-seven. Now that third setting I'm not too sure about. Might’ve been thirty, might’ve been thirty-five.

Nonetheless, in any case it is important to note for THIS occasion that the flaps ALWAYS worked when being exTENDED. Perfect. Each time. Every time. Pick a setting and EXTEND.
Now...reTRACTing the flaps was the gamble. Sometimes....yes...sometimes...NO....is it Tuesday......YES.......is it Tuesday....yes....MAYBE.....oh NO!! It’s not an EVEN numbered Tuesday!!. You get the idea. Generally speaking you had a two in five chance of the flaps NOT retracting each and every time you tried. They worked when we landed, and Rod had told me on the way over they had worked for the last two legs to Ambler and back. So, by some folks calculations you GOTTA’ be thinking...were about DUE!!

Now a lot of times this has turned out to be no big deal thanks to a discovery Dudley had made when first trying to come to terms with the problem over six weeks ago. (Yes Dudley and Clark had been waving their magic wrenches at the DoorKnob for over a MONTH to no avail yet.)

The flap drive motor was mounted squarely in the center of the cabin overhead. It was hidden along with a ZILLION other things inCLUding the very fast-moving flap drive-shaft, camoflaged by one of the overhead cabin panels held shut by two zuess fasteners on the trailing edge which, when unlatched, allowed the ceiling panels trailing portion to fall and the panel then hung from the forward (hinged) portion.

Well the first time ol’Dudley came out to look at her, the DoorKnob sat with full flaps extended as Rod had just rolled in from a trip and, unable to get the flaps to retract one iota...he sent for the nearest sober wrench....that being Dudley that day.

Well, in the process of doing SOMEthing to SOMEthing behind that panel Dudley accidently struck paydirt. More accurately, Dudley’s 14 inch HUGE metal screwin’ driver shaft accidently
came in contact with both the positive post on the flap motor and the metal wing spar of the airplane.

Now this resulted in NUMEROUS, some spectacular effects. First it produced a BIG shower of sparks fit for as good a Fourth of July celebration anywhere, a few dozen or so of which landed in Dudley’s knit cap providing the second “special effect” so to speak. As Dudley had never been seen anyWHERE or anyTIME without his cap, (it was rumored that Dudley even wore it to bed, much to the dismay of Debra his wife who, we understand, finally gave up on washing Dudley’s pillowcases altogether) it was most often asked of Dudley....”Hey DUDley!! Ain’t that cap o’ yours about DUE for an OIL change??!!”

Well apparently a good bunch a sparks got a few of the more “freshly oiled” sections of yarn in the cap to smoldering which escaped Dudley’s attention for a few minutes as, since his gnarly old fat forefinger hand been a’layin’ on the metal of the screwin’ driver, this unintentional electrical connection Also flung poor Dudley darn near to the back of the plane where he head landed in a jumble amongst the stowed passenger seats.

Picking himself up and “shaking it off”, ol’Dudley was enraged and cursing ALL things German and some Japanese just for good measure and was about to go forward and wreak some kind of physical mayhem upon his German nemesis when he FIRST noticed the flaps, the selector being left in the ZERO position were reTRACTing. Immediately thereafter the smell reached his nostrils about the same time the smoldering yarn fueled by the breeze passing through the cabin lit off. This resulted in, according to Dudley at least complete removal of the hat so it could be stomped out on the ground, although this part of the episode was actually not witnessed by anyone so’s I won’t swear to it. The cap did however now clearly exhibit a couple of charred areas.

So at least we’d figured out how to retract the flaps, at least until we could do it the normal way. This was generally good for me because any time Rod felt there was a good potential of going past flaps twenty-five for takeoff, which was the limit of what you’d want to go dragging around very far with you if they DIDN’T retract, why I’d get to go along as sort of “Manuel, the Flap Retractor” guy and get some stick time to boot.

Therefore many was the time that I had proceeded back to the cabin, often amidst a full load of passengers or crawling across the top of the freight load. Then if need be, squeezing between the cabin ceiling and the freight to drop the panel, I’d jam the old screwin’ driver into place and “raise the flaps”. What amazed me is that the PASSENGERS seemed no more concerned or alarmed upon seeing this than the freight did!! “Uh, just a ROUtine flight operations procedure there folks, heh, heh.”

Meanwhile, back at our beach runway, after a couple of minutes of hard thinking in silence Rod looks up to the overhead, grabs the elevator trim wheel and trims her for a flaps 10 takeoff, but doesn’t put down the flaps. Instead he turns to me and tells me to give him the first notch (pause) and VERY carefully....the FIRST NOTCH ONLY... when I get the tail up good, Okay??

Responding with assurance that I understood the game plan and would comply Rod said “Okay. Here we go.....” and smoothly but promptly shoved the throttles all the way to the stops bringing instants howls from our two geared Lycs, and we began rolling slowly forward.

I guess by now, most of you can see where this is heading, can’t you.

Now here’s a guy in the left seat, elder, mature, and with tens of thousands of hours in ALL kinds of planes and conditions under his belt. In the right seat is...........ME.....CloudDancer. With all of MY vast experience of MAYbe 1000 hours mostly in the Skyhawk..not to mention my BIG 25 or so hours in the right seat of this beast (my flying had been limited to climb, cruise and descents, with a couple of landings with Rod on the controls helping me, as I had NO taildragger experience).

Well, our acceleration WAS a fair bit better than the old Sled outta’ Noatak earlier in the story but I was still growing rapidly concerned as the waters of Kobuk Lake now lapped at the end of our takeoff space no more than 1000 feet away, and the tailplane was showing only a little interest in flying at this point.

Finally as we approach the halfway point with the tail now well in the air Rod shouts “NOW!!” and I carefully place the small flap shaped knob in the first detent and watch the indicator begin it’s movement through the white arc. Surely Rod can see, as I do, that this is going to be TOO close and will call for another notch of flaps right.....RIGHT??!!

I look at Rod, and he also is visually fixated on the end of the “runway” approaching. We’re passing sixty-five and accelerating still but... it’s not..... it CAN’T be enough!! My left hand, out of Rod’s sight twitches nervously and finally ...with less than a couple of hundred feet remaining, I KNOW WHAT MUST BE DONE!!

And, both uncommanded and without warning to Rod take it upon myself to move the flap selector to the next notch!! Use MORE FLAPS!! Gotta’ USE MORE FLAPS!!

Now Rod, seeing the drastic movement of my left arm out of his periphereal vision and his right arm flinches just a bit as for an instant he almost lets go of the throttles to try and slap my hand away. But he realizes it’s too late and he dare not allow the throttles to creep back even a SMIDGE. He ROARS at me ‘Wha..the..HELL!!....” and then there is time for him to say no more.

As the flaps now extend another fifteen degrees, to a position that he has not trimmed the airplane for the last 100 feet or so of the runway also sail under the wheels he had planned to gently coax off right at the end leaving us (again) nicely and SAFELY airborne in a stable attitude in ground effect out over the water.......(Gee...It works over water too?????Well..... DuH!!)

Instead the old gal rears her nose skyward like a homesick angel as Rod hollers at me “PUSH!! PUSH DAMMIT!!” While frantically rolling in forward trim as fast as he can! The airspeed which HAD been increasing steadily albeit slowly from the start, was no longer doing so. Instead I watched in abject horror, now convinced that I had killed us THIS time, as it began to unwind!!
Back down below 80, which it was passing as the wheels left the ground. Oh God! It falls to seventy almost INstantly as the stall horn comes on strong and we struggle to force the nose down.

The slightest little buffet as we are passing about fifty feet with our nose STILL 20 degrees up in the air and then the combined efforts on our yoke and the trim wheel suddenly take effect and we...are.....LEVEL..... then falling and accelerating as Rod now finds the proper trim setting for the current flap setting. And now with speed to spare Rod again climbs us out of ground effect and turns westward. But will the landing be in Kotzebue or Shishmaref??

Adrenaline rush subsided, and respiration somewhat back to normal; this has all happened in less than two minutes from opening the throttles for takeoff.

I...am....MORtified. My hands are in my lap. My head hangs in shame and sorrow. There is no WAY to apologize. I can feel Rod staring at me. If we have to land in OTZ because the flaps don’t retract things will be even worse. There is NO way I can do a manual retraction with this load in the cabin. I finally raise my eyes, and look at Rod as he says menacingly “You’d better...HOPE...” and he reaches for the flap handle. Halleliujah!! They come UP, and Rod turns for Shishmaref and we BOTH reach for a pack of smokes with shaky hands.

Rod turns, as if to say something to me. He is STILL DAMN pissed, and I KNOW it ain’t gonna’ be nice, and worse yet, I KNOW I deserve every bit of it. I brace myself but he stops, closes his mouth around the cigarette, and turns to look out the windshield. His silence DEMOLISHES me.
Finally, after the LONGEST hour of my life we are circling Shishmaref and Rod touches her down on the asphalt feather soft. He still has spoken not a word and I don’t expect him to for a while. As the round red mixture knobs sliding aftward shut off the fuel flow to the Lycs that we’d hung our lives on only an hour or so earlier, I unclip my seat belt and turn toward my door. I DO know what my job is now.

The blades are stopped. The engines make that “ticking” sound, and as I start to lift myself out of my seat I hear Rod let go of a BIG sigh and feel his hand on my left forearm. I untense and lower myself back into my seat and meet his eyes. He looks at me for a good ten seconds, sighs again and shakes his head. And then he quotes one of my FAVORITE passages from Ernie Gann’s “Fate is the Hunter”. Said under much the same circumstances years ago to Gann when he was a fledgling DC-3 co-pilot for American Airways and he inadvertantly raised the landing gear right out from under a not-quite-yet airborne DC-3 Captain seated to his left......

“If you EVER do that AGAIN....I will cut you RIGHT out of my will.....”

Epilogue - Over the next 16 or so years I taught and checked out pilots of many different experience levels in Cessnas, navajos, Bandierantes, Twin Otters...whatever.

As I had been, I taught them all about “use more flaps” and each and EVERY time I brought it up the answer was always a blank stare along with...Say WHAT??!!

Somewhere long down the road in the mid 1990's I ran across a graduate of the CloudDancer School of Arctic Aeronautics at the Crow’s Nest in the Capt. Cook and we talked of our younger days. Now flying for Hawaiin Airlines out of HNL he all of a sudden said ‘Hey! You remember use more Flaps.” I laughed as I remembered and said ‘Yeah, WHY do you ask.” He said ‘You know. You may never believe this but....we do the SAME DAMN THING on the DC-8 freighters!!”

Some lessons just stick with you for life, ya’ know?

See ya'll next week...lessen o' course I see ya' in ANC this weekend.

Next week's story is all about an Airy Commander with CloudDancer once again a reluctant accomplice in the copilots seat. As you might expect by now. Things ain't exactly working real Bob Hoover-like in this story EITHER.

Seems ol' CD just cain't find a way to stay outta' trouble for too long at a time. :oops:

Come back for Chapter One of "GOOD! We're VFR!!" scheduled to premiere here, at your favorite aviation website on Tuesday, April 4th by 5P.M. eastern, of course (give or take a little).

W-e-e-e-e-'re OFF 2 C the Whizard!! The wunnerful Whizard of ODDS!!

Your stories are great!


You're a great story teller. My 14 year old son and I have the best time reading each installment. Thanks for sharing your recollections! We can't wait for the next story to commence.

Eric Goss
Hey CD.......
Got your book last week.........half finished and I've trouble putting it down 'cept for my grandkids tuggin' on me.........they left today so I should finish it.
Lots n' lots n lots of great wit and humor.........the little details make it.
You should write a book.........oh, wait a minute.......
Anywho......I figgered I must know you sans your CD nick......so emailed sj as to your identity........and found out the paper sack must prevail.

Thanks for sharing all this good stuff..........you done good. Stop in SD sometime.......brewskis on me.

Dakota Dave
Hiya' cubdrvr - :howdy THANKS for the good "book review". Your kind words surely give me a warm fuzzy.

Yes, The WorldWide Grand Poohbah of SuperCubbers has agreed NOT to reveal the name/face/rapsheet of the man under the brown paper bag. This so that I might continue to frolic (literarily, at least) amongst the SuperCub pilots of the world ignominus, incogito...in-n-n..UNKNOWN by almost all.

Howsumever, as time passes, I am slowly meeting and talking to more and more of you. And of course, at my airline there are now...lessee.....must be dozens and DOZENS of first officers who really know.

So....someday it will end (maybe) and I will have to learn how to be creative sans the benefits the sack affords me.

CloudDancer :anon