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"I'm From the F.A.A., and I'm Here to HELP"

Every time I see this post the old Trio song starts singing in my head....

"Did he ever return no he never returned and his fate is still unlearned he will fly forever over the streets of Boston he is the CD that never returned"
I slide the throttle fully closed and add full forward pressure on the yoke as we pass the halfway point of the runway and the tail begins to slowly settle downward. At the instant I hear the first contact of the hard little wheel spraying gravel I smartly pull full aft yoke while sliding my boots upward on the rudders to mash down on the brakes until the Skywagon’s groundspeed has been sharply reduced to a comfortable taxi speed.

A couple more jabs at the brakes and I am ready to take the 45 degree right hand turnoff that leads to the small parking area.

Mashing hard on the right rudder pedal momentarily sends me down the centerline of the angled turnoff with it’s VERY slight downhill grade and rolling into the parking lots still ticking off about twenty knots or so. This is a perfect sped for I will need no further (attention-attracting) burst of power to swing my tail and roll a few feet forward afterward.

With the throttle hard pulled against it’s aft stop, I continue to decelerate as I grasp the sliver circular friction lock knob between my thumb and pointer finger. With the north end of the gravel ramp now nearing I now shove full left rudder whilst still applying some braking pressure to the right main to continue slowing.

I am twisting hard right on the throttle’s friction lock and the (seemingly) sandpaper-like edged rotary lock is hurting my thumb and finger I note as the tailwheel instantly flops over into it’s free swivel mode and the 185's tail assembly starts to swing fast to the right.

Only a brief MOMENT after the swivel starts and I am MASHING hard on the right rudder AND brake to use the last of the aircraft’s momentum to roll a few feet forward so as to allow me some distance behind the plane to take the passengers away.


A HUGE :D returns to the kids face as he steps across the seat bottom with ease now and I grab him under the arms he grasps my forearms. As I am dragging him forward and lifting him I see his big brown eyes up close. They bore into mine aBLAZE with joy and enthusiasm for.... :p

“CloudDancer...you COOL PILOT! 8) Flying is way FUN, UH!!” :up hollers the munchkin with an ear to ear toothy smile.

“You LIKE it, Uh?” I respond in village English, me now with a broad grin on MY face for the first time in a while. The kid’s joy was infectious I noted as I dropped him to the ground and had a momentary flashback to every time an airline Captain had let me into the cockpit in flight.

I shoved the cherub forward and prodded the two adults in the back following them toward the tail as they held the boy by his hands between them.


Sadie hollers “CloudDancer!!” And I turn back to see her twisting the small golden locking pins on the top of her black cloth palm sized coin purse which she has extracted from her large purse. Man, oh MAN am I lucky SHE remembered. I wait impatiently as she counts out two hundred and -eight of the two hundred and nine dollars due me as the agreed upon price.

I am hearing those two cycle engines in the distance and look up to see....sure enough....three of four more three wheelers are headed this way and ONE of them carries two people with the guys riding in back carrying a large brown trash bag (suitcase) under his right arm as he holds on for dear life as the vehicles driver makes top speed attempting to get him to the strip in time.

Okay. This is what I DON’T NEED now. :( I tell Sadie, now actually fishing for coins to make up the other due dollar....”Hey Sadie...no sweat this is good enough and I GOTTA’ GO before those people get here, cause’ I can’t TAKE any passengers right now because of that F.A.A. man. So will you please tell those guys I’m REALLY REALLY sorry but I couldn’t TAKE “Em??”

She’s looking up at me trying to register all I blurted out so fast. I stuff the wad of cash bills in my right pocket and bend over to give her a little kiss on the cheek saying “Thanks!” and ‘Bye, I’ll see you guys. As I reach over to shake her husband’s hand, a traditional one shake (up and down) deal and then tousle the wiry black hair of the one youngster still watching me with worship.

As I turn to sprint to the airplane Sadie hollers “CloudDancer!” And I whirl. Still blushing slightly :oops: from my unexpected peck on the cheek just a few seconds before she hollers “You be CAREful and don’t WORRY to much about Mister F.A.A. pilot policeman :whis: . Rod will make him go away!”

I laughed and waved as I sprinted the few short paces to my waiting steed.

In under twelve seconds I was again airborne with the bellowing engine lifting me skyward.

The forty-three nautical miles to Kotzebue, checking in with flight service for traffic advisories, the landing (full stall this time), all passed in seconds or minutes unnoticed. I flew unconsciously.

Only after I had landed and made the ninety degree turnoff taxiway and was taxying toward our lot where I could see Rod gassing up the Dornier did I return to the present. I had spent the entire 22 minute flight daydreaming about both the immediate future; the conversation with the FED when he got in :agrue: , and my long term flying future. Or did I even HAVE one after today?? :(
HE-E-E-E-E-E-S BA-A-A-ACK!! :eek:

At least for tonight anyway. Maybe what I needed was a good dose of Alaskan air and reinvigorating inspiration of being in and among the places and things that created all the magic, wonder and heartbreak that WAS my life in Alaska.

Prior to the trip from which I just returned yesterday, witht the exception of my occasional ANC RON's, which, while good and I'm glad to have 'em, are only long enough for my to become wistful :-? for what my life now misses and seems to need most; as opposed to being reinvigorating as a longer stay is.

Although if I had any more sick time available I woulda' called in for today's trip and STAYED in God's Country for another week.

You good, kind, charitable and forgiving folks have been waiting for the rest of THIS story for a little over a month now, with GREAT (much appreciated :tup: ) patience.

What you have just read of Chapter seven took (itself alone) over three hours to produce. Just so you know. Even when the writing juices "flow" it's more of a Hienz Catsup kinda' flow rather than a Mrs. ButterWorth's ya' know what I mean.

I mean there is much use of the back arrow and delete key and the spell checker. :wink: HEY! I USE the spell checker. I only (mis)spell some things oh-CASSINALLY so's to make you use YOUR noggins! :bang

Anywho. Enjoy. I hope/think.....maybe....hell....WHO KNOWS!!

It might be wrapped up in two more installments after I get back from this four day.

Made it through the first full day back in "the WORLD" as a non-smoker still.... :x

Seven days, eighteeen hours and thirty-five minutes so far but....STILL...who (besides ME) is COUNTing??!!

Best Wishes all, and as ALWAYS


Cloud(I NEED a :drinking: /SMOKE/ :Gbun: /TITTY :bunny )DANCER!!

Chapter Eight -

Rod was balanced halfway up the folding six foot aluminum ladder with the black rubber fuel hose hanging draped over his right shoulder for comfort. :-? Intending to top the Dornier’s nacelle mounted tanks completely his mind drifted with the splashing sounds of the fuel serving as just background white noise.

CloudDancer had left a note on the schedule board and was due back anytime now accordingly.

Rod just wished he hadn’t taken the 185 with the starter behaving on a 50/50 basis. :-? To pick up a big load in Kivalina he would most likely have to shut down there at least as well as in Noatak to unload.


That grin 8) ....good weather or bad. Drunk passengers or sober. Short trip long trip. Cloudy ALWAYS had that happy face on coming or going in his airplanes. The boy had indeed been a good investment.

The 185 tail is swiveling around to slow gently to a complete stop simultaneously with the propellor on the other end of the airplane. Having parked with the tail no more than four feet in front of the DoorKnob, from his still elevated perch on the ladder Rod first see the bottom of the left door swing forward as two Levi and boot clad legs drop to the ground.

Emerging from under the left wing and straightening upright Cloudy is heading over and Rod’s cheerful banter over Cloudy’s landing “performance” stops in mid-sentence. He’s see the ABSENCE of a smile on the kid’s face, instead replaced there by one real WORRIED look.. :eek:

“Gees kid. What’s WRONG!!” :crazyeyes: Did sumpthin’ BAD happen? Are you OKAY?”

CloudDancer :anon
Twice Rod had to grab the skinny little bastard.....

Each time the boy pushed himself (along with his passengers) WAY to far into a corner and ONLY escaped by the grace of GOD.

Could it be that there are even more CloudDancer tales to be told???

Keep em' coming, Cloudy...
Occasionally, I am asked by my passengers why I keep returning to Alaska..The only plausible excuse I can come up with is that Alaska flying is like the way it was many years ago in the lower 48. In The Great Land, the pilot flies the airplane, not ATC. We sit with the passengers, not isolated by a reinforced locked door. If someone says that they'd like to see a glacier up close, we can do that and more. Each and every day, I am thanked by those that fly with me for showing them things that they could never see from a car, boat or train.
Cloudy, you say it far better than I can. In Alaska there is still adventure to be found for those that seek it.
Skagway Pilot - :howdy

You and others, every now and then, pay me that compliment or one like it.

It IS the highest compliment that I can recieve to know that other Alaskans, particularly the former and current charter pilots, gold miners, and other "rural" Alaskans see a piece of their own lives and laughs in one of my stories.

I am grateful beyond measure and humbled by your kindness sir.

CloudDancer :anon
Chapter Nine -

“Nope. Nope.” CloudDancer responded as he raised his arms and shook his hands before stopping them palms outward like a traffic cop. :whis:

Rod, who had released the trigger on the gas nozzle and started to take a step down the ladder now reversed his actions and continued pumping as CloudDancer continued. “No Boss. The plane is fine an...except of course for the starter, you know....and everybody’s fine and the trip went ...um....ooooohkay .....SORT of..... :-? ” and as he hesitated....Rod prodded him. :cluck

“Okay. Okay. Now what DIDN’T go okay....SORT of ?”

“Well...ya’ know when Sadie first CALLED she wasn’t too sure about the load, so I figured it would be a full 185 for sure. So I was thinking on the way up there tha......”

Here Rod interrupted. Although he really loved the kid like one of his own most of the time, Cloudy had a away of getting to the point. It was the LONG way, as in never use two sentences when five will add more color. :wink:

“Cloudy!’ :x he snapped his name out mildy “GET to the POINT”, what HAPPENED??”

“Uh...well...uh.....do you by CHANCE know a Fed by the name of Bartelli?” having spoken this while staring at the ground where his right boot idly slides gravel back and forth sideways; :cry: Cloudy stops his movements and looks up at Rod on the ladder to gauge his reaction.

Rod groans audibly, rolls his eyes :roll: and again releases the trigger and the fuel stops flowing into the almost now full tank. This time he DOES descend the ladder so as to be more eyeball to eyeball with his young protégé :Girk: before responding with “Oh no. Don’t tell me you ran into Bartelli out there.....yeah I’ve know him since I was a....since I was YOUR age! He CAN be a nice guy.....he was pretty decent when he rode with me on the “F” at Wiens....BUT....he can be the meanest S.O.B. on the PLANET :bad-words: when he wants to. What HAPPENED?” And this time he remained silent until he heard it all.

I was afraid Rod was really gonna’ be PISSED at me :( for NOT having brought the load to OTZ first and then having him fly it back north to Noatak.
Chapter Ten -

And as it turned out I had PLENTY of time to ponder :( for the Twin Otter would take over three more hours to get back having diverted to PIZ (Cape Lisburne) to sit on the ground for awhile shut down. Point Hope was socked in pretty tight with fog and Red decided since Lisburne was open and CALM (a real RARITY for Cape Lisburne :eek: ) he would go there first and sit on the ground for an hour or so. Get a good (fresh) coffee break :morning: in with the Air Force boys and have a chance to try and bend Bartelli’s ear just a LITTLE bit if possible. :bang

Meanwhile our young hero, unknowing of the delay, literally paced back and forth across the Wien ramp hundreds of times :cluck while awaiting the sound of a pair of PT-6's. As there were only TWO airplanes in that corner of the world at the time wearing a pair of PT-6's the other being a Beech 18 converted to a Westwind.

Deep in thought CloudDancer barely grunted an acknowlegement of a greeting :-? to his friends who worked the ramp there. After the third one came by Cloudy gave him a very SKETCHY version of the story, apologized for being grumpy :x , and was left alone after that.

Pacing. Sitting. Waiting as the sun moved from the west to the northwest starting it’s evening and nighttime journey across the northern horizon. I stared into the large orange orb willing the DHC-6 to appear from it, burned kerosene exhaust fumes turning the fiery orb into a shimmering circular pool.

I thought about a million different things at once.

It was ROD’s fault because we NEVER have any PARTS DAMMIT!! :evil:
It was RED’s fault DAMMIT for NOT warning me there was a FED on Board!! :evil:
(Although Red was POSITIVE that he HAD indeed “warned” me)
It was SADIE’s fault for NOT being able to get her FAT BUTT into the damn PLANE any faster!! :evil:
Hell! It’s BARTELLI’S FAULT. He’s not even SUPPOSED to be concerned with ME!! I’m a Part 135 pilot and HE is a DADGUM Part 121 Air CARRIER inspector. He shouldn’t even have any SAY or INTEREST here...RIGHT??!! :evil:
(Boy...talk about your RIGHTeous indigNAtion anyway....)

Okay. I’m SURE I can’t go to JAIL...so THAT’s good. License suspension..how long...I wonder WHAT it takes to legally (or otherwise) change your name...but would the airline FIRE me if they ever found out......I COULD spend my life HERE....I mean I DO like it and all....I don’t HAVE to go fly for and airline....and on..and on.

For three hours every though of my past present and future raced around my brain like a carousel gone berserk.

But most important....THERE it IS! Turning final. I will face my accuser in just a few minutes.

As I watch the old man turn and kneel on the floor of the Otter in the doorway I am trying to decide how to play it. Bartelli’s right hand grasps the rear door, still latched closed, for support as he slides his right leg out and down “fishing” for the aluminum stairs with his right foot. In moments he turns and sees me standing a dozen feet off the left wing as I try to stay out of the way of the rest of the passengers and the wooden wagon being wheeled under the wing toward the aft baggage compartment.


Red Hotchkins. What a PIECE of WORK that guy is.

After Wien was raped, plundered and pillaged at the hands of an earlier day version of “Lorenzo” and destroyed the pilots went mostly to Alaska Airlines or Southwest and Red wound up at Southwest from where he recently retired.

His ties to Alaska and Kotzebue in particular are even stronger than mine have been as he managed to marry one of the VERY best looking Eskimo girls :luv2: in N.W. Alaska. Their offspring, now college graduates have all earned flight ratings of some sort although they have WISELY decided NOT to make a profession of it.

As for Red, he can still be found on rare occasions in a 737; now riding in back to and from his new HELICOPTER job back in Alaska. Sometimes the ride in back is made far more tolerable by the fact the his life-long Eskimo love :love: is the one pouring the :morning: from the serving cart.

All my professional life it seems, the former Twin Otter turned Boeing turned FLING-WING :yikez: Captain has been unobtrusively standing somewhere nearby. At many turning points I sought him out. He was seldom, if ever in error on issues of flight and our industry. I truly have ALWAYS valued his counsel.....even when I didn’t follow it.

And I know to this day....on the very rare occasions that our paths still cross; now that I can no longer bump into him so often in the terminals our airlines commonly served;

I know that Red takes some small matter of pride and satisfaction knowing that, since he had a role in my initial hiring in what became my current job, (Airbus Captain for a “legacy” airline) at least in some small measure....his flying “lessons” live on to benefit passengers still.

For GODSAKES Red....be CAREFUL out there in that airborne collection of noisy parts you fly around in these days. :crazyeyes:

And THANK YOU....for a LIFETIME of good advice and friendship. :up

CloudDancer :anon
Holy Tortoise Toes Batman - :Gworm:

Heinz Catsup comes out of the BOTTLE faster than this guy WRITES!! :Gcloppy:

WOW Chronicle devotees.....

I just went back to look when this thread/story STARTED. It was LAST YEAR!! :crazyeyes:

Hey!! Howcum you guys didn't...you know...BUG me or something??!! :roll: :Gupsidown: :Gurgh:

Jeez lou -EEZE. Five months HAS to be a record even for ME.

But then again Rome wasn't built in a day. :wink:

Okay. Let's try and see if our NEXT adventure titled "The Jeremy Newton GCA" can get done in a LIDDLE more timely fashion. :(

CloudDancer :anon
What a great ending to your saga
"Man and Machine versus the Government."
The never ending understanding of Who you know triumphs again.
If you ever get to this side of the world we keep a great store of hard liquor, micro brew and music on the porch after the days flying of cubs.
Hiya Dennis - :howdy

1022S....hmmmm. I seem to remember that baby bein' a deep blue with gold trim and a white polar bear on the tail.

Believe I spent some time in both seats on that baby over the years.

CloudDancer :anon
CD, Thanks for persevering. How ever long it took, it was immensely enjoyable. Will be looking forward to further installments when you have the time. Whether it be describing the sound of a radial engine start or keeping us hanging in the midst of an engine out landing to a river bar, you truly have a talent. Thanks again for sharing! Matt