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"Weren't Nobody SHOOTIN' at Me??!!"

Stephan - Far...FAR from true hero......once again you are reading of youthful ignorance :( combined with exhuberance :D AND (at that point) an as yet UNKNOWN, even unto myself, capacity for thinking I was bullet proof :bunny because.....well...beacause I ALWAYS HAD beeen.

The day THAT feeling went away was the day after my 27th birthday in 1981 and how well I remember it. But THAT airplane ride had NOTHING COMEDIC about it.

The tail number for this flight was seven-five-six LIMA SIERRA..not SIERRA LIMA

I most often called it Lickety-Split :lick: and one of my life long buddies (still flying all over the state today out of an ANC office) used to LOVE to tease me by calling me 756LONGSHAFT.

His "trap lines" and mine had crossed quite often in Northwestern Alaska when we were much younger. :rock:

As a matter of fact I was flying one of his airplanes when I had the above mentioned "Come to Jesus" :angel: (in more ways than ONE, damn near) experience.

If you look up 756LS I think you will find she is alive and well and kicking around Lake Hood somewhere. She was my "baby" and sweetheart for a COUPLE of years. I got her when she was brand new (see "Don't look at ME, I'm Not Touchin' It!!")

Thanks for your interest Stephan...hope you are doing well. How's Momma 'n that munchkin o' yours??

CloudDancer :anon
Experience is what you NOW call the foolish mistakes of your past....

at ANY age!!

Thanks CD! Truth be known, I read your stories quite carefully. I just like to come back with my own "interpretation" of what "I think" I would do. You do such a damn good job of describing these situations, that I can almost picture precisely what you were doing, and I've never even been to Alaska! :cry:

The munchkin is turning into a rascal and growing like a weed! Thanks for asking. Momma is doin' jess fine too, a little happier now that I am done going to a couple of night classes I've been taking on the side. Who knows, maybe next year I might just get to be one of them .. DER's, or somethin'. :-?

Oh, the N756LS still shows "deregistered". At least it doesn't say "destroyed". Probably means that it's been sold to someone in Canada, or some other far-away place. Hey, maybe it's in RUSSIA!! :crazyeyes: Sorry, I can't help look these things up. It's almost like being part of your story.. of course, I am not that crazy. Just heaving fun reading your stuff CD!
Chapter Six - "Weren't Nobody SHOOTin' At Me!!"

As I had time and again over the past years I “butt-crawled” slightly forward on my seat giving up the comfort of reclining back against the upright portion of my chair. I don’t know that it helps. We’ve all done it. It just seems to be an almost universal natural reaction to the lower visibility. We feel as if somehow, that extra three to five inches closer your eyeballs are to whatEVER is coming closer, will afford you that mere extra NANOsecond of reaction time that will allow you to avert making a gooey sizzling mess of your innards all over the suddenly no longer in flight cylinders and engine block. Dumb. But we do it. :-?

With little more than two miles or so to the mouth of the Buckland river I barrel along still quite confidently even though in the Kobuk Valley region this IS one of the more difficult contact flying areas. Like the area immediately west of Selawik when coming from Kotzebue, the eastern shore of Escholtz Bay and the Buckland river yet to come are very, VERY sparsely vegetated.

Flying the Kobuk river is SO much easier for instance, because there are such large and lengthy areas of tall green trees bordering both sides of the river as well as a significantly much higher riverbank on one or both sides at a time.

The Buckland riverbanks are comparatively much lower in height and have many gradual slopes to the water with NO trees whatsoever along the way between the mouth and the village. And although the distance is only about fifteen miles or so (not counting the twists and turns of the river) it can seem much longer if the visibility really starts getting tough. With a sparse amount of green scrubby small bushes and what appears to be some occasional batches of straw sticking up through the deep snows....well.....there ain’t much to look at. :oops:

It’s a VERY tight marriage of both instrument referenced quick glances to “what’s out the window” quick glances. That’s why since the beginning “the elders”, the Gunderson Brothers, Leroy and the other old timers had pounded into our heads an oft repeated lesson.

Spend lots and LOTS of time down low learning what the world looks like from five hundred feet or less. And we did it over and over on GOOD days until we DID learn it.

I new which way the next turn in the river was going to be beFORE I got there. I HAD to. I couldn’t afford to miss it if I wanted to find the village.

So now, as the mouth of the river passes three hundred feet below the belly of my 206, I remain alert, and a little keyed up, but quite comfortable. I’ve given up more altitude and now with the visibility a consistent and solid half mile, I shove the flap lever to the twenty degree setting and crank the prop control in two more turns. The increased pitch of the Hartzell and drag of the flaps now take my speed down to a more comfortable eighty-five knots and I note with great relief that there is absolutely no change in the temperature and no ice accumulation at all. THAT would put a kibosh on this deal immediately.

My airplane is empty and quit light and responsive to the controls as I bank first one way then the other then back again. The reduced speed also means less steeper banks to make the turns and that too is a relief under these conditions.

About a third of the way upriver to the village I commit to an “approach pattern” mentally in my head based on the existing conditions remaining the same. As soon as I see the village I will line up and fly down the center of the three thousand foot gravel strip.

After all this twisting and turning I MUST have an accurate DG setting in the pattern to make this work. Flying the runway at ten feet or so will allow me to reset my altimeter to field elevation. I’ll also reset the DG to 120 degrees with the airplane centered on the runway and get a good look at the windsock so I can cogitate a wind correction angle for the upcoming turn. I anticipate the winds will most probably be out of the east northeast as they usually are when these storms come blowing through.

Reaching the end of the runway a climbing right turn to 200 degrees and four hundred feet ...wait 15 seconds going straight ahead....a steep (25 to 30 degree) turn totally on the gauges to a reciprocal 020 degrees and wings level for twenty seconds before make a turn onto “final” and descending to 300 feet on the altimeter. Make the “final course” about 310 to 312 degrees for the wind and within no more than a dozen seconds or so....Buckland should appear out of the murk ahead with JUST enough time and room for a final alignment with the runway if I am off a little bit. A NO-O-O-O SWEATer all right. As LONG as it doesn’t get no worse.

But, of course it does, and as another couple of miles pass beneath my serpentine-like “slithering” up the river 206, I am forced to drop my final notch of flaps, crank the prop control all the way forward and butt-crawl forward ‘til my forehead is almost pressed against the left side of the black metal floatplane brace in the windshield.

%#^& !! %#^& !! %#^& !! I-I-I-I...HATE it when it gets like this!

Now down to seventy-five knots indicated and with only 150 feet showing on the altimeter visibility is DEcreasing and I KNOW I have ONLY five miles or less to GO!!! DAMN DAMN double dog DAMMIT!! :bad-words: I fear now that this may become one of those times where you get to see the village....maybe only a quick glimpse and then it’s GONE and having NOT been able to carefully set yourself up COMPLETELY for a decent APPROACH you must now just punch out and point for home!!

Higher ground is just east of the east bank of the river and I hug the west bank tightly in what is now three-eighths of a mile visibility at BEST. If I can JUST hang on for another....

Looking up from my every-other-two-seconds check of the altimeter I crane my head left and have it practically wedged between the V-brace and the left windshield post... I see.... MOTHER MARY!! No more than a few HUNDRED feet away I am about to enter SOMEthing that is dark grey and VERY SCARY LOOKING.


Stay tuned folks. More to come tonight 'cause I hafta' go back to the REAL world (work) early tamale....and I kinda' want to wrap this segment up.

CD :howdy
Chapter Six - cont'd

That’s IT!! I AM OUTTA’ HERE!! I snap the wings level, slam the throttle home and pull the nose up ten degrees and the 206 responds as if launched from a catapult. :angel: And as I lock hard onto the gauges the world grows a little darker .

In ten seconds the altimeter is shooting up through three hundred feet and the flaps have completed a partial retraction to twenty degrees and the VSI keeps increasing upward to 1000 fpm. As soon as the big hand on the altimeter passes the four I start rolling into a thirty degree right bank and bring the flaps up to ten.

The ADF needle tuned to 720 for KOTZ is swinging it’s way counterclockwise and I start rolling out of the bank and retract the last ten degrees of flaps as it passes the ten degrees of the nose to the right position. As it settles in the twelve o’clock position I look out the forward windshield just in time to see a slight but definitely perceptible lightening of the darkness around me.

There is the very finest slight coat of rime icing on the plane and the forward portion of the underwing area. No doubt. Getting out was the ONLY thing to do.

A glance at my DG shows a heading of 330 which I KNOW can’t be anywhere’s near correct and the compass is still swimming around so I set 305 and leave it at that for a while. If the ADF says OTZ is straight ahead and I was within 5 miles of Buckland when I U-turned then 305 is close enough ‘til I get straight and level and the compass settles down for a good reading.

Back in very cold air again I am solid on the clocks but there is no ice accumulating so I decide to take her up to 6500 ft since I am light and reach for the microphone.

“Hellooooo...any traffic for Buckland this is 756LS climbing out of Buckland area to 6500 feet direct Kotzebue...anybody headed THIS way??”

Immediately Dave’s voice comes back at me from the transmitter in one of the company 207's and he reports he’s on his way to Buckland from Kotzebue and has just leveled off at 5500 feet.

Saaaaay WHAT?? I quickly pass onto him all I know and I’ve just been through and there’s a pregnant pause. I assume this has given him sufficient reason to turn around. And WHAT the heck is he doing at 5500 feet ANYway??

Dave asks again how close I got to the village and reconfirms the perceived direction of movement of the weather in general. He then tells me...”Waaaa’ll %&$# !! I’m up here already anyway. May as well go on down and take a look-see, my Timex is workin’ pretty good and the ADF is too. Knowing he is on speaker and his passengers can probably hear me; as diplomatically as possible I point out that I DON’T see it getting any better he’s still pretty close to home.”

He replies that the passengers said they will pay just to “take a look” in hopes of getting home so he may as well give it a shot.

I urge Dave to exercise the utmost caution and have a safe trip. I switch radios and wait another five minutes to ensure I have passed safely over and beyond his airplane and then crank in some forward trim and once again sent Lickety-Split tearing downward in a high-speed cruise descent.

I break out at three thousand feet about fifteen miles from Kotzebue with Reilly Wreck off the nose. With four miles vis and 1200 overcast (for now) the control zone is VFR and after getting traffic advisories I give a long and detailed pirep to Flight Service concluding with “....in my opinion....based on the darkness of the areas I BELIEVE there may be large areas WELL below marginal VFR.."

The Flight Service specialist receiving the report knows only TOO clearly the exact implications of my phraseology. This ensures that if and WHEN he passes that report along to any other airplane headed that way that they will get the appropriate emphasis in the right places.

Three hours later the storm is approaching Kotzebue, but I care not. I am already happily ensconced in an alcohol induced haze on the last barstool swilling my seventh or is it my EIGHTH drink of the evening so far. And...by golly......here comes good ol’ Dave.

With a cheery “Howdy Cloudy!” the old geezer plops his lean frame on the barstool next to mine and hollers at the bartender for his Canadian Mist on the rocks as he begins shedding the upper portion of his snowmobile suit! As the large rocks glass hit the bar in front of him he grabs it, turns to me with his ever-present wicked smile and says ‘To aNOther fine day of Arctic Aviation!!”

With a sigh and a smack of the lips another small sip is partaken of before he turns to me and continues ‘Yeah....just BARELY got in from that last Noorvik before the %$^# hit! And I SURE didn’t.....”

“Hey Dave”....I interrupt without thinking....”wha’ happened on that BUCKLAND deal? Didja’ go all the way DOWN there??”

“Oh YEAH.” sez he. “Made it in just fine.”

“Oh” I say...”so the weather LIFTED for a while??”

“Oh no. No. S’Matter a’ fact...you called it purty good Cloudy. I started gettin’ a little vertical about four hundred or so...’n then about three hundred I got that half to three-eighths a mile you wuz talkin’ about. Liked ta’ miss the damn place altogether!!”

“O.K. , O.K.” I say, shaking my head a little to try and clear the enveloping rum fog that is slowly numbing my brain. “Lemme’ get this straight...you were going down there at FIFTY-FIVE HUNDRED FEET RIGHT??’ and he answers in the affirmative to which I continue.

“So...so...you let down on.....you let down on WHAT??...the ADF and your Timex fer’ crissake!!??”

Now, with a look on his face, at me, ....something like...what is WRONG with you boy Dave responds “Yeeaah. Izzat a PROblem for ya’ sonny??”

“Well......GEE DAVE!! I don’t KNOW!! Don’tcha’ think that was drivin’ just a little TOO tough!!??”

His response was immediate and spoken with the absolute most BLAND face and inflection of voice. Just a statement. One statement.

“Weren’t nobody SHOOTin’ at me!!” he said.

STUNNED! That is the only word that could describe my response. My mouth flopped open fully twice and closed. Finally on the third try my vocal chords kicked in and I responded....

“Weren’t nobody SHOOTING AT YOU!!....Weeeelll HELL DAVE!! I guess that just flat takes alla’ the CHALLENGE right OUT of the day DON’T it!!??”

With an exaggerated sigh he turned slowly halfway toward me on his stool and spoke quietly. “No CloudDancer it don’t....but it does make it a DAMN sight easier to concentrate on your FLYin’ problems.”

I paused and thought for a moment of all the newsreel footage and gun camera films from three wars I had watched in my life. Never having had to dodge surface-to-air missiles, small arms fire from the groundlings or .50 cal or 20mm cannon fire from other pilots intent on knocking MY ass outta’ the sky while at the same time trying to manage the normal problems of a complicated flight; I realized that as tough as I THOUGHT I could fly....I was nothing compared to those that had.

So. I shut up and bought Dave his next drink. I think that was the night I first heard him talk about Comanche Jones. ANOTHER real airman branded under fire.
Hi, "Cloud Dancer" been grinding my way around the world for the last two weeks and came across your saga. Once I figured out who you were then I had the magic decoder ring to figure out the rest of the cast in your tales.

You were the second guy I met when I first got to "kotz", L.L. (Captain of the Starship Uniform) was the first. These stories really bring back memories of my short stay in the arctic before moving to the interior. I always say the "good old days, may they never return"!

To the others reading these stories I can attest to "most" of them. It is important to realize just how fortunate we were to live through those times, a lot of our friends did not. In others words "kids don't try this a home".

Give me a shout when you get a chance I still live in FAI, however my day job has me in some of the stranger parts of the world about half the month.javascript:emoticon
Cheers :eek:
Chapter Seven - Two Kinds of Legends

I’d been hearing about Comanche Jones for three or four years before I finally made his acquaintance.

We’ve all heard the term “ a legend in their own time”. This of course, being VERY different from the similar sounding “a legend in HIS OWN MIND”, :roll: a self-affliction I now embarrasingly admit to being guilty of more than once or twice in my younger and less intelligent days. :oops:

I was quite fortunate that “the Elders” as I liked to call them would wait until JUUUUUST the right time; and when I had sufficiently bragadociously verbally hung my ass out on a limb and they were tired of hearing about it; they would challenge me to PROVE it! :whis: And, of course, I would promptly go out the next day....jump in my 207, 185 or whatever; and make a complete FOOL of myself :splat: trying to do what they knew I wasn’t good enough to do ANYWAY.

(Next time any of you 180 or 185 drivers think you’re pretty good...try and see exactly HOW FAR you can roll the tailwheel down the runway without breaking contact with the ground....with the MAINS OFF the ground. I dropped some MAJOR cabbage on THAT bet and then watched Leroy, completely hung over and operating from the RIGHT seat take our ‘67 model 180 down the CENTERLINE of the runway for a good three thousand feet or more before planting the mains back on the ground having MORE than proven the point.) :wink:

But....there really ARE a few LIVING legends. Jack Jefford was one. Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager and Scott Crossfield come to mind. And maybe...just maybe...Comanche Jones if we’re talkin’ Twin Otter drivers specifically.

Now beFORE everbody gets their GOnads all in an UProar and hollers at me......there were many many DOZENS of SUPERLATIVE DHC-6 captains throughOUT the various “unimproved” hinterlands of the globe and maybe we ALL knew the greatest Twin Otter pilot ever.

I personally served as first officer to two or three really GREAT ones. But Comanche Jones stood out from the crowd and I had heard MUCH about him before I flew with him and MOST of it was pretty intimidating to be honest. He was a big, gruff, grouchy FEARsome character :yikez:
who didn’t speak much. Boy. Was THAT an understatement (PART of the time!!)

I think it was flying job number eight...or nine....maybe TEN for all I knew. I’d been hired by this outfit outta’ Barrow that was expanding into other areas of the state to drive their singles and piston twins and as a co-pilot on their Twin Otter based in Kotzebue. And I’d heard that one of their Captains was the notorious Comanche Jones. So, you KNOW who I got for my first Captain DON’T ya’!!

(stay tuned folks....still whacking away at the keyboard yet. Should put up a LITTLE more tonight yet afore I..... :sleeping:
Chapter Eight - A Man of Few Words

I showed up at oh-seven hundred for an 8:30 A.M. takeoff for my first trip with Comanche Jones. I wanted to make a good impression on my new company, not to mention my new Captain. :D I new he probably wouldn’t show much before an hour or forty-five minutes early, so I figured he’d be impressed that I had already “unwrapped” the airplane from her winter night clothes and along with our two-man ground crew had the plane half-loaded with cargo before his arrival.

The Twatter’s seats...doubles on the right side of the cabin and singles on the left side of the aisle were of two varieties. They either hinged to the wall and collapsed and folded up when not in use or, the far more work and less desirable variety were NOT hinged to the wall and had to be locked in to BOTH the wall and the floor.

In EITHER case the seats took a continual HELL of a beating and EVERY DHC-6 pilot (working in the BUSH at least) has spent HOURS cursing the designers and manufacturers :bad-words: as we struggled to put seats back UP that we had just taken DOWN at the LAST stop maybe as little as 15 MINUTES ago!! Cargo on some seats UP. Next stop...cargo off...lotsa’ peeps...seats come back DOWN until we get to the NEXT village where people get OFF but there are three electricians and 1700 lbs of toolboxes...put the same damn seats BACK up :onfire: so we can get the tool boxes amidships....and so on and so forth. Three or four trips a day of as many as four legs each. Basically.....we just flew back and forth to work all day.

Sure enough, about five ‘til eight I see the headlights pull into the parking lot :eek: and a huge hulking figure of a man in a green snowsuit with the hood pulled up emerges from the company pick-‘em-up truck and waddles slowing toward the hangar door. As I see him reach for the door with one mittened hand he stops, half turns and launches a dying cigarette butt into the air toward the ramp and I follow the glowing ember arc through the dark morning sky ‘til it disappears into the snowbank with an unheard sizzle.

For the next fifteen minutes I keep watching the hangar door which opens to the ramp side of the security fence. Surely the Captain will come forth to, if NOTHING else, give final supervision to the securing of our fully loaded airsheen. But it does not happen.

Finally at 8:15 with the loading and preflight completed on of the ramp hands says...”Hey CloudDancer. You better go see what Jonesy wants for gas if you guys are gonna’ get out of here on time. “Uh...yeah right” I reply and head for the building.

Pulling off my face mask and mittens as I enter, I am hoping for a quick :morning: before we blast. But apparently I’ve not got the playbook quite memorized just yet.

There, behind the counter sits Jonesy. A Winston hangs between his lips. The other end of the cigarette gives off a curlicue of smoke which merges with the curlicue of steam rising from his freshly poured coffee.

I stride over and introduce myself and get a one word reply. “Howdy.” This was followed by complete silence and a blank stare. “Hey Jonesy...uh.....how much GAS you want.?” I ask.

“Whatcha’ THINK!!??” Jonesy responds.

“Well....we’re goin’ to Noorvik, Kiana, and Selawik...so I’d guess about 1700 pounds oughtta’ do ‘er....”

“Aaawwww-right...” from Jonesy. That’s it. Nothing more. He remains firmly seated and takes another long pull on his Winston and then leans BACK against the wall. Well....even I can take THAT hint. I guess it means I’ll do the gassin’ up for this trip as well. Trying NOT to let my slight irritation show on my face :-? I turn and proceed outside at the same rate I came in!!

As I am reeling up the fuel hose I see Jonesy emerge from the hangar via the ramp door and walk to the nose of the aircraft. He carries a large metal thermos in one hand. Looking upward at both engine intakes in the still dark late autumn sky. Satisfied apparently that someone (our rampers) had pulled the foam engine air intake plugs and stowed them in the nose baggage compartment, I watch Jonesy hoist his green clad bulk up into the captain’s cockpit door as the last few feet of heavy black hose winds itself around the spinning takeup reel.

Heading for the aircraft hear the metallic “THUNK!!” of the batteries being brought on line at instantly the hydraulic pump kicks on to bring the accumulator up to pressure and the glow of the nav light bathes the snow packed area through which I am walking in a soft red.

Passing in front of the pointed nose I am reaching upward to grasp the handle to MY cockpit access door as I hear a loud “CLICK!” followed instantly by the SNAPSNAPSNAPSNAP of the dual igniters and the whine of the PT6-20's turbine shaft as the internal rotation begins.

“APPARENTLY”....I think to myself as the feathered propellor slowly starts IT’s rotation a mere four feet from my left shoulder and I wrench my cockpit door open to see Jonesy staring down at me impassively over his right arm (raised to engage the spring loaded three position starter switch).... “it MUST be time to go FLYing now that all the WORK is DONE!!”

As my buttcheeks hit the canvas covered seat cushion the Pratt & Whitney free turbine lights off and just as I am closing the door the first waft of burnt kerosene sneaks into the cockpit. God! I LOVE the smell of burnt kerosene in the morning!! :p
Chapter Eight - The Golden Triangle

I hurriedly attach myself securely to the aircraft using the five-point seat belt-shoulder harness-crotch strap restraints as Jonesy fires off the other engine and watches it stabilize in a smooth and slow idle. And since turbines are ready to go to work as soon as they light off he wastes little time in getting us underway.

His huge paw of a right hand....(that’s IT....this guy reminds me of a big ol’ grizzle bear just awakening from hibernation) moves methodically around the cockpit adjusting lighting rheostats and flipping on com and nav radio switches with fingers the size of small hot dogs before he jams it back into a huge padded black mitten that extends a good six inches past the wrist and overlaps the snowsuit sleeve by as much.

Like Pooh swatting at a honey bee the now mittened paw raises up to swat at the overhead center ceiling mounted engine control knobs, and by turning his hand sideways he manages to just nail the two small box-like silver “knobs” that control the propellor pitch without touching wither the throttles on the left or the fuel flow red knobs to the right. They slide forward an inch or two before “falling over” the feather lock position and as Jonesy’s right paw grasps the throttles and eases the controls aftward to the Beta position I hear a loud metallic “THUNK” from down below in the darkened recess of the Capt’s rudder pedal well that indicated the spring loaded brake release has be actuated.

The right prop, with just BARELY slightly warmer internal oil (having run a whole thirty seconds longer than the left engine already) slips into full coarse pitch just a second or two earlier than the left. But, with Jonesy already pulling both props into the Beta range through the use of the throttles the airplane, as he had planned, BARELY starts rolling forward as I reach back over my head to snag my David Clarks off the hook on the aft cockpit bulkhead immediately over my head.

As Jonesy starts a right turn out toward the taxiway I, without thinking at all drop the David Clarks over the top of my head!! EEEEEE-YOUCH!! :crazyeyes: Even beFORE the DC are fully released from my hands and their built in tension clasps the black rubbers seals around my entire ear....I can FEEL the icy cold of the headsets spreading thoughout the sides of my head.

As I rip them back OFF my head I see Jonesy, curious as to what might’ve provoked my outburst, looking at me as one would examine a specimen under a microscope. Sheepishly I admit out loud “I guess I forGOT how cold these can get. To which Jonesy responds with nothing more than a grunt before looking back out the window.

As I am dragging the rubber earphones rapidly back and forth, up and down my right Levi covered thigh to warm them via the laws of physics (friction) Jonesy reaches the west end of the ramp. This place is quite often the runup area for eastbound takeoffs and Jonesy again wheels the Otter into the wind. Silently and with no prompting or input from me Jonesy runs through the various propellor tests one after the other. Overspeed. Auto feather. Beta backup. Having well over ten thousand hour in the Otter alone....the scrolling glareshield mounted checklist remains uncalled for and unused.

Wanting to at least play some limited roll in the proceedings I have correctly assumed it must be my job about now to file a flight plan and get airport advisory services, which takes me all of about thirty second...the same amount of time it takes him to do the prop checks.

The “THUNK” of the brake release and once more we are moving out onto the runway when Jonesy finally cuts loose with one whole word to me. “Flaps!” I quickly reach up and grasping the overhead mounted flap handle with my thumb I release the handle safety lock and set ten degrees which I know from my training to be the company standard takeoff setting.

Now lined up on the centerline, Jonesy waits until the center windshield mounted flap indicator white needle ends it downward slide at exactly ten degrees (thank GOD). Satisfied that I can at least do THAT much correctly he shoves the two throttles forward and the DHC-6 accelerates brickly down the runway.

With 65 knots on the airspeed indicator Jonesy eases the y-shapes floor mounted yoke aftward and the Twatter slips the surly bonds of Runway 08 with the nearby spinning propellor tips creating a noisy din that even through the David Clarks eats into your eardrums. At five hundred feet I see Jonesy’s right paw beginning to slide the throttles aftward so I grab the prop controls and slide them aftward as well. We climb into the dark moonless morning skies under a blanket of brilliant stars as the bleed air cabin heat, with the engines now REALLY making some fire and heat at climb power, begin to produce the excess pressurized heat our air cycle machine NEEDS to begin warming the cockpit and cabin .

This is the biggest airplane I have ever flown so far in my life and as part of a two man crew, I REALLY feel like Mr. Big Time Heavy Iron Driver NOW!! At 1500 feet MSL Jonesy level as the bird off and already I can see the first twinkling lights of Noorvik come into view.

Not a word one has been spoken since becoming airborne four minutes earlier and, as the very first twinkling lights of the village of Noorvik come into view.....Mr Big Time Heavy Iron Driver must face the grim realization that this might just be a “one man show”. I know my OTHER JOB for sure and reach for the aircraft logbook while unzipping the top of my snowsuit to find
my pen.
Less than 15 minutes later we slide sideways to the north a little before a gentle right bank lines us up on final for Noorvik’s sole dirt runway a mile and a half ahead of us and just beyond the lights of the village. As we cross the Kobuk and sail across the top of town at no more than 250 feet I am puzzled looking ahead in the darkness. For while the approach end of the dirt runway 11 is marked with a flare pot on each corner, the far end is only illuminated by one, which appears from here to be on the left side.

Judging from the crab angle and the ride down final the wind isn’t THAT bad that it should’ve blown one out. As I think this to myself the fourth smudge pot, marking the other corner of the runway illuminates and I realize that the village agent had only this minute lit it. He had barely beaten us to the runway which is no surprise. Morning time in the villages in winter is NOT exactly a hopping busy time.

We plop down withing fifteen to twenty feet of the end of the runway (it is said that if you place a sheet of notebook paper on the ground and weight it with a couple of rocks Jonesy will hit the PAPER on touchdown nine outta’ ten times supposedly) and Jonesy rolls the throttle handles forward to unlatch the reverse locks and SNAPS the throttles almost full aftwards launching the propellor blades to maximum reverse angle.

This literally causes the cockpit and cabin occupants (if there WERE any on this leg) to lurch slightly forward.

Just as quickly as the engines begin to increase to MAX thrust Jonesy slides the throttles forward, almost, but not quite out of reverse. The nose comes back upward off the (almost) bottom of it’s strut and the remaining forty or so knots of airspeed drops away quickly.

As Jonesy completes the transition from landing to rollout I watch for him to release the control wheel and grasp the nosewheel steering tiller which is quite INconveniently mounted on the left side of the yoke co-mounted with the control wheel.

I crank the control wheel hard left into the left quartering crosswind holding the yoke neutral as Jonesy steers the Twatter over to the right side of the dirt strip so that he might have the advantage of using the WHOLE seventy or so foot width of the runway to make our taxying course reversal. It is exTREMEly rare outside of either Anchorage or Fairbanks to find what might be termed a TAXIWAY anywhere in the state. You turn around and taxi back on the runways. Even in OME, OTZ and BRW. And at one end or the other of any given runway you will find “the ramp” or what passes as one in the villages.

Sure enough, just as we begin our U-turn, our landing lights illuminate Willie Morrison, the village agent for our airline, hurtling at damn near flying speed down the trail just off the side of the runway so as to beat us back to our parking spot. Behind him his sled bounces slightly up and down in the air, it’s only tied and bungeed contents it appears being a half a dozen mail sacks and three or four wrapped boxes....presumably more mail for town and points beyond.

Halfway through the turn, as the prop blast and the now becoming a quartering TAILwind fight for control of the huge elevator I decide the battle in favor of down elevator with my side of the yoke and hold it there until we again turn the aircraft into the wind on the “ramp”. The ramp which comfortably provides room for us to get the entire aircraft and wingspan OFF to the side of the runway is crowded with a dozen people and half as many snow machines and sleds. The addition of the Twin Otter literally fills it I note as I PRAY that not even HALF of these people want to get on. Otherwise Jonesy and I are gonna’ be humpin’ the whole damn load to rearrange the remaining mail and cargo to accomodate more than the three passsengers whose seats will be available along the back wall after we unload the Noorvik stuff.

Jonesy shuts down the left engine immediately but leaves the right engine turning to make the heat and engine generator provided electricity last as long as possible whilst I fill out the log book and fish out the appropriate paperworks co-mail envelopes, et al that must get off here.

Finally after hanging up my David Clarks on the overhead hook, unclipping my harness and zipping up my snowsuit I turn to Jonesy to tell him I’m ready and he can kill the other engine.

My mouth just hangs open as I watch Jonesy recorking his thermos and spy the styrofoam cup on the glareshield, steam rising slowly from it and the scent of good coffee just now reaching my nose. Sliding the dented and road weary HUGE thermos back to it’s resting place behind his seat he reaches into his breast pocket. Ten seconds later he’s sucking down a good drag on a freshly lit Winston and reaching for his coffee cup. Just aft and outside my door, four feet away, the right propellor continues to thrash the cold morning air in it’s fully feathered position.

Jonesy has started to raise his coffee cup to his lips but has sensed a lack of movement from the right seat for some many seconds now. Turning his head to the right he lays his eyes upon my motionless countenance, mouth still dumbly hanging open. Lowering the coffee cup only slightly, the old guy finally utters his SECOND word since first firing up the engines almost thirty minutes ago. With an accusatory tone in his voice I hear him say....”Well??!!”

As slow-witted as I may be sometimes...it FINALLY dawns on me that my name for THIS trip is Manuel. As in MANUEL LABOR!!

Biting my tongue I reach behind me and find the door handle and hold it open as I descend quite carefully and with a good grip on the doorframe as well. The frozen snow covered ground SHOULDN’T be slippery at this temperature...BUT I am taking NO chances as I step into the brisk northeast wind and the air stirred up by the propellor whishwhishwhish WHISHIHG the air only a couple of feet from my left shoulder now. Slamming the door shut with a good latching of the door handle I walk around the nose. Time to go to WORK again.
A chorus “Hi CloudDancer(s)!!” erupts as I come around the nose from the gaggle of residents all standing around the right wing tip and right and left hands encased in moosehide covered mittens wave their greetings to me as I holler “Morning everybody” in return before turning to unlatch the nose baggage compartment door and Willie adds his cheerful “Good morning good morning good morning!!” as he arrives bearing the ubiquitous armloads of green outgoing mailbags which we stuff in the half empty compartment on top of the engine covers and foam air inlet plugs.

We trot over to his sled and each grab two more boxes of outgoing mail which just about fills the nose compartment and will eliminate it’s use for the remainder of the trip.

Hurrying past the now silent and cooling left engine I reach up and open the forward door of the two double doors aft the wing and the three step collapsible ladder falls to the ground at my feet having slid out from under the cargo net. Grabbing it I quickly hook it into the door ledge floor-mounted locking slots and after scrambling back into the relative warmth of the cabin (out of the wind anyway) I release it and let it drop to the ground where Willie slides it slightly off to the side with one boot as I begin to unlatch the aft door and allow it to swing open.

Only about two hundred pounds of mail (in this case canned cases of soda pop) of the almost seven hundred pounds we are carrying for Noorvik are in the cabin. The rest is in the tail compartment. Quickly throwing out the mail bags and a half a dozen parcel post packages I follow those with three “triple mailers”. These are three cases of soda pop banded together as one piece. Sixty-three pound per.

Leaping back to the ground it is now time to unload the rest of the soda pop from the tail baggage compartment which will leave it only momentarily empty as I have noted (much to my unspoken dismay) that about half a dozen people have seperated from the group and have begun dragging their suitcases, duffel bags, cosmetic cases and Hefty bags (village Samsonite) over by where Willie and I are now toiling.

Sure enough....there are four passengers for Kotzebue and two for Selawik, our third stop.

I climb back into the Twatters cabin, now with barely ANY residual warmth remaining in it (although JONESY appears to be QUITE toasty and comfortable in the cockpit as the reMAINder of the load in the cabin help retain heat forward....hope his damn CUP LEAKS I remember thinking to myself with a quick glance forward) and begin to roll up the aft end of the cargo net over the top of the load.

In addition to the three aft bulkhead mounted seats I must access at LEAST one right wall mounted double seat AND get the rest of the load far enough forward that the passengers seated there will have room for their legs too. Not to mention it has to move far enough forward, about another eight inches beyond THAT so that I can get to the next forward set of steel tie-down rings anchored in the Otter’s floor.

Thankfully there are many cases or Pampers and a half dozen cases of potato chips for Kiana, our next stop. These are relatively light and will again fill our aft baggage compartment after the Kotzebue bags are placed in the bottom of the compartment.

It takes almost a whole twenty minutes before I rachet down the last cargo strap securing the net, welcome our boarding passengers, restow (securely this time) our boarding ladder, and grab Willis’s outbound paperwork.

Amazingly the aft passenger door handle seems somehow connected to the left engine starter for, as I the snap the passenger door handle into it’s closed and locked position, which extinguishes a door ajar light in the cockpit, the left propellor slowly starts rotating and again the SNAPSNAPSNAPSNAP of the engine’s ignition system reaches me over the sounds of sno-machines being started for the trip back to town.

This time I BARELY have my seat belts hooked up and am reaching for my David Clarks as the screeching of the propellers at full takeoff RPM hammers at my eardrums as we accelerate rapidly down the snow covered runway. As I get the headset clamped over my ears Jonesy hauls back on the yoke to launch us off to my next worksite Kiana. All of about 16NM away.

After calling the Kiana agents to tell them we are off Noorvik and will be there in about seven minutes I reach for the logbook again. It’s approaching 9:30 A.M. now and a band of grey or light blue is appearing to the southeast on the horizon. Daylight coming. I have not even finished writing all the mail numbers, times and (faked) weight and balance calculations down on the flight log when I hear the roar of the propellers being advanced to full forward for landing. We’re on short final for runway six at one of my favorite places on earth, Kiana, Alaska.

Damn. What I wouldn’t give for coffee and a smoke right now!
Chapter Ten -Share and Share Alike

Snapping the cover of the logbook shut I twist slightly left in my seat to jam it back behind my seat base while simultaneously trying to recap my Bic pen orally with my teeth and my right hand. This of course results in me stabbing my upper lip with the business end of the pen as I am trying to hurry which only further adds to the building irritation. :bad-words: I manage to it properly and am just sliding it into my left breast pocket about the time the Twatter’s knee-high Goodyears reconnect gently with Mother Earth.

Jonesy barely cracks beta with the throttles as we have alit on what is (in those days) about the longest strip in our home region. At a subSTANtial five thousand feet in gravel length and a good hundred feet wide Kiana is one of the smallest villages and towns in the state able to host DC-6s, Hercs and Argosys and even provides them with a decent ramp so that they may park and shut down to offload while still blocking very little of the runways available width. This being critical of course, as quite often in THIS state it is common to see planes landing over planes taxying the opposite way on the runway for takeoff. It is ALWAYS proper however to first coordinate with and have the approval of the aircraft ON the runway before “sharing”.

I remember once being lined up on final for runway 26 in OTZ and about four miles out when the Wien 737-200 called for taxi advisories from Flight Service and, hearing my position decided to wait for my arrival. A Noorvik born Eskimo boy inflamed with a passion for aviation was now a senior Captain for Wien and in command of the machine holding short and I recognized his voice.

“Hey Bill” I sung out on 123.6...”.Pretty good wind up here. If’n ya’ wanna’ go ahead ‘n taxi down to the business end, go on ahead if ya’ don’t mind me landing acrost the toppa’ ya’!!”

Recognizing my voice as well, the Captain comes back with a ‘Thanks. I’ll just do that and hustle on down there to get out of your way.” “No sweat” I respond and note the movement of the Boeing airliner as it spools up and turns out onto the runway almost still four miles from me.

Bill gooses his JT8D’s and the blue, gold and white-trimmed seven-three picks up speed a it heads for the east end of the runway. Naturally...me being.....well....ME!!....I couldn’t resist the temptation to see if I could “get a rise” out of the much older, reserved and refined airline captain. (I JUST can’t HELP it!! It’s the imp in me.) So I lower the nose a little more and hold off on my speed reduction until flashing across the top of the VORhouse on the hill at the east end of the runway whereupon I chop the power and get the flaps starting down.

As the big airliner was now down the runway about three-quarters of the way this would mean Bill and I should “cross pathes” just before he slides off to one side of this runway so as to commence a 180 degree turn before takeoff. Perfect. Flaps extending and the nose rotates donw a bit lower. And.....JUST before I reach his nose,,,,,Bill HAS to say it. “Hey CloudDancer....” comes over my speaker OH SO quietly... “ The TAIL on this bird is about 37 feet TALL TRY to MISS it.”

Chuckling quietly as I keyed the mike,- I said “Sorry Bill....somehow I just COULDn’t resist.”
And Bill came back with “‘Bout what I figured from you CloudDancer” and a laugh. I musta’ missed him by at LEAST twenty feet.

So it is not unusual for small singles and light twins to go whizzing around, over, and under the motionless Herc or Argosy wings as the larger planes sit silently unloading. It’s just another “50 foot obstacle” or some such that the bush pilots fit into their daily agenda.
As our Hartzell three- blades “disc” and slowly decrease the aircraft’s groundspeed I lean back in my seat and glance out over the descending terrain off the south side of the runway and note three or four bouncing single headlights. Most likely headed for the airport to greet us. :howdy

Less than ninety seconds goes by before I am again crawling into the back of the Twin Otter to release the cargo net. While I throw the most of the remainder of our twenty-four hundred pounds of mail toward the back door (half-bent over or in a crouch - thirty, forty, fifty, or SIXTY pounds at a time) half of our Noorvik boarded contingent of passengers have dis-embarked and are busy hugging and shaking hands with their up-river cousins, in-laws, and friends. :luv2: :pty: :Gwoohoo: :Gfrog: The other three seated against the back wall lean out and over and exchange pleasantries as well. It is ALWAYS the way it happens and is repeated EVERY time you land at a village. Even if the villages are HUNDREDS of miles apart.

Unload aft baggage mail :-? ....LOAD baggage in aft baggage :-? ......put down more seats. :-? And so it goes. :-? And so it will go at Selawik as well in another thirty minutes. :-?

By the time we land and dismount in OTZ I will have, in the three previous hours humped approximately five thousand pounds of cargo by hand, completely or partially have loaded and unloaded the aft baggage compartment three times for another five hundred pounds or so total, released and re-secured the cargo straps three to four times, cursed the seats half a dozen times :bad-words: and...oh yeah....fueled the airplane. And that’s just the first of three trips today...IF we don’t have any extra (all cargo) sections!!

Jonesy meanwhile has had three more Winstons and three more cups of coffee :evil: while maintaining a diligent watch :eek: over the continually running right engine which kept him nice and warm in the cockpit. :Gpenguin: I mean...not that I got cold. Hell! I was sweating most of the trip anyway!! Although the difference when looking back thirty years versus looking back the last dozen or so MIGHT explain this “spare tire” around my middle. (More like a spare SET really!!) :(

Jonesy DID give me the last portion of the last leg (waving a meaty bare bear paw in the general direction of the right wheel and quietly growling “TAKE ‘er!) including the landing on runway eight as a reward for having completed the flight paperwork somewhere about the middle of Kobuk Lake on the way back in. No coffee though....THAT was consumed already.

After wedging our blue Otter into it’s parking space and setting the brake Jonesy reaches up, grabs the prop controls and slams them aft and through the feather uplocks as if they didn’t even exist and the propellers quickly rotate the blades within their hubs 90 degrees. He follows this by hooking both nickel sized red circular plastic knobs on the adjacent fuel control levers in the crook of his pointer finger and snap those to the full aft position cutting off our PT-6s from their lifeblood Jet-A and they whine down slowly in RPM, pitch, and volume.

Smacking the battery/generator gangbar plunges the aircraft into lifelessness and Jonsey is already sliding wordlessly out of the left cockpit door to the ground. His cockpit door had started to shut and was then reopened with a loud grunt. The big paw reentered the cockpit to fish around under the Captains seat momentarily and I hear the scrape of metal against metal and then the cockpit door slams shut with a thud and click as the access handle is rotated to the closed position. Comanche Jones now walks toward the terminal's rampside entrance swaying coffee jug in his left hand shining in the morning sun.

Meanwhile our two ramp guys have begun helping the passengers alight and are removing the contents of the aft baggage compartment. The one in the cabin shouts forward at me...’Hey CloudDancer!! We got twelve outbound for upriver!!”.

Looking at my watch I note we have just under thirty-five minutes ‘til our scheduled departure for Ambler, Shungnak and Kobuk. Passengers are SUPPOSED to be seated FORward of the cargo so..... I dive through the narrow cockpit “doorway” and begin to do battle with the seats once more. I curse the seats loudly :bad-words: ....Comanche Jones quietly :Ghothead: ...after all he’s a LEGEND (we’ll GET to that).....and try NOT to think about how damn BADLY I want a smoke and a cuppa’ hot COFFEE DAMMITT!! :morning:
The second, and for that matter....ALL subsequent trips for the day went exACTly the same way.

About the time the last of the loading was done I would proceed into the terminal and approach “the Sphinx” :Girk: (as I had begun quietly calling him to myself). Always he would be found atop the same stool smoking another Winston and drinking another cup of coffee. I figured his first stop upon re-entering the terminal at the end of a trip HAD to be the JOHN!!

I would ask “How much motion lotion ya’ want for this one Jonesy” and each and every time he’d say ‘Whatcha’ THINK??!!” Whereupon I would list our itinerary and say “...so I figger ‘bout XXXX pounds oughta’ do ‘er.” Pausing either for dramatic effect...to take a drag on the ever present Winston....or just to PISS ME OFF :evil: ....Jonesy Always came back with the same one word reply. “A-A-Awwww-RIGHT!”

I must admit I had high hopes for the second trip even though it was commencing before I had time to catch my breath!

As Jonesy and his thermos appeared on the ramp and the terminal's front door opened I was flipping the seven or eight inch chain that attached to the fuel cap into the tank filler neck so I could clamp the fuel cap securely closed as the ticket agent escorted the passengers through the ramp access gate to our rampers.

As the electric take-up reel wound the black fuel hose back into the fueling station and the last of the passengers mounted the aluminum ladder to access the cabin I hear the right engine begin to whine and se the top of the right propeller start it’s slowly increasing revolutions. My watch tells me it’s 11:00 A.M. straight up. Departure time.

My BLADDER for SOME reason (why I don’t know...I STILL haven’t had any COFFEE DAMMITT! :( ) is now sending full signals to my brain. What the hell. Unzipping my snowsuit and jeans I whip out my tallywhacker and write my initials in the snow a couple of times partially shielded from observation by the fueling station and 10,000 gallon steel cylindrical Jet-A tank.

I’m fairly sure that Jonesy won’t leave his auto-loading system behind...but I’m not willing to take that chance just yet.

Again I am just getting myself oriented in the cockpit in time to file a round robin flight plan with the F.S.S. as Jonesy is lining up on the runway, when to my utter shock and surprise he waves the meaty paw....(this is beginning to take on the significance of a Papal Blessing) and utters what are rapidly becoming my to most favorite if rarely heard words...”take ‘er!”

THIS is what I LIVE for! :Gfrog: I am in CHARGE (sort of) of this BIG PLANE and I gleefully enjoy the takeoff roll and ascent into the heavens. :pty: Leveling at fifty-five hundred feet for the 93 NM leg to Ambler I trim the aircraft for hands off flight and relax, the ear to ear grin still glued to my face. Now that the excitement level has dropped slightly the familiar coffee and smoke pangs come stabbing back at my stomach. I can only HOPE Jonesy will offer me some coffee and holler across the space between us “Hey Jonesy....you MIND if I SMOKE??”

“Go Ahead” he responds and a couple a seconds later he’s fishing around in his pockets for his Winstons as he say “Didn’t know you SMOKED!” and before my pea brain could over-ride my alligator mouth I shot back...”O-o-oH YEAH! And I drink COFFEE TOO!” This comment, while duly noted by Jonesy according to the....LOOK :x ...on his face as he stared at me momentarily, did NOT as I had hoped, produce an offer to share a cup of coffee. “Well...ya’ oughta’ BRING some then!” Discussion closed. ‘I GOT ‘er” he growls “best try ‘n stay aHEAD of the paperwork this time.”

By six P.M. we had operated three trips, eleven legs, and been to eight different villages. I got one takeoff and two landings, one-HALF of one cup of luke warm coffee between trips two and three and smoked only five cigarettes all day. (It was impossible I’d found to smoke while simultaneously shuffling paperwork, tickets, paper money, station manifests and flight logs as there was no ashtrays on the airplane.) Jonesy went through a pack.

As one of our rampers dove into the nose baggage compartment for winter bed-down gear (inlet plugs, engine covers, six carter heaters and wing and tail covers and extension cords) another was dragging over an A-frame work stand to aid in getting the engine wing and tail covers on.

I was STARVING. I could eat a :Gcloppy: ALL by MYSELF and we raced to accomplish the chores while Jonesy proceeded to the parking lot and fired up the company pick-em-up truck to allow IT’s engine and cabin to warm up....the temperature having plunged precipitously with the sun over two hours ago. Ambient must be no more than twenty or so and the wind is now blowing a steady fifteen knots out of the east. It’s gonna’ get COLD tonight.

Ten minutes later I enter the terminal one last time for the day. Jonesy looks up from his stool and says ‘Ready?” and when I respond “Let’s GO!! I’m STARVED!” he hauls his bulk offa’ the stool and seems to move for the door with a bit more enthusiasm in his shuffle than I’ve seen all day long. Like the rest of the day, the drive to the Nu-Luk-Vik Hotel, all of three minutes is conducted in COMPLETE silence, the glowing end of Jonesy’s ubiquitous Winston glowing brighter then fading then growing brighter again as he puffs without removing it from between his lips. The ashes fall to his snowsuit and the glowing ember end of the cigarette dances through arcs downward, upward and side to side as the old Ford bounces in and out of the various frozen solid potholes that dot Second street. I am weary and look forward to fresh coffee...ALL I WANT.....two or three smokes and most likely a drink after dinner.

Comanche Jones practically dismounts the Ford before she stops moving and is proceeding up the cement sidewalk to the hotel's front entrance at a downright SPRITELY pace. I know neither of us has eaten since this morning and I figure Jonesy must be darn NEAR as hungry as me...even though I did all the WORK. Like a horse smellin’ the oats at the end of the day Jonesy is headed for the barn with a determination it seems and I hustle to keep up behind him.

To access the restaurant from the front metal dull yellow painted double doors requires an immediate right one-eighty after passing through the second entrance door. NOW....HALF way through that right one-eighty (90 degrees for you math slouches :Geureka: ) is an even WIDER door leading to the hotel’s bar where I expect to end up after dinner.

Now TRULY IMPRESSED with Jonesy’s increasing pace I am actually striding purposefully to keep pace with him as we enter the hotel. I am therefore TOTALLY surprised when Jonesy unexpectedly comes to a complete immediate and FULL sudden stop at the ninety degree point in our turn. As close as I was tailgating I didn’t even see the crash coming!! I smashed into his backside at full speed, but, given the girth and MASS of the unmoving Comanche he barely noticed it I’m sure while I rebounded offa’ him like golf ball bounced on a sidewalk!! :rock:

Two staggering steps backward and I catch my balance as Jonesy turns and rivets me with the same glare with which one would regard a persistent mosquito at a summer picnic. He then growls out his longest sentence of the day thus far whilst rubbing a big paw in circles around his expansive belly. “Sure hate to EAT on an empty stomach....” after which having uttered that somewhat skewed version of an old axiom (now one of CloudDancer’s very favorites, of course) Jonesy turns on his heel and marches into the bar.

Only for the briefest of moments do I hesitate. Well, one or two beFORE dinner can’t hurt EITHER I decide :) and I march in right behind Jonesy as, with the same newly determined pace, he proceeds to the far short end of the bar by the street side exit and hoists his bulk upon the stool having shed his snowsuit along the way and thrown it at the coat rack where it (naturally) caught an empty hook.

As if by magic the bartender is in front of us holding a bottle of Crown Royal and as he asks me what I’d like to drink (I’ve been out of town for a while and this guy is new) his hand snags a “bucket” (LARGE rocks glass) from the ice bin behind the counter.

With a flourish he inverts the glass and as it collides with the base on the bar in front of Jonesy the tip of the shiny sterling silver pouring spout lays over the edge and begins to gush an amber liquid into the icy cold tumbler until a good solid three fingers is contained therein, but only for a moment. For, no sooner has the pouring spout been removed that Jonesy lifts the tumbler. He “clinks” the glass against the bottle of Crown Royal still being held in mid-air by the bartender and mutters ‘here’s mud in yer’ eye” :pirate: before raising it to his lips and draining the contents in TWO swift gulps. As he utters a long and hard sigh of satisfaction he sets the glass gently back in the spot from which he had lifted it and in a matter of five seconds the fluid level in the tumbler had been replenished. The bartender says he’ll be right back and Jonesy and I sit there in silence for a minute or so as we watch him find my rum and concoct a decent rum and coke which he brings and deposits in my bar space.

As he sets mine down Jonesy again grabs his rocks glass and half turning in his seat, raises and extends his glass halfway toward me and mutters quietly “over the teeth ‘n past the tongue...look out tummy...here it COMES!” And as I toast Jonesy and take a healthy swig of my drink Jonesy take a relatively SMALL sip before setting the glass down, smacking his lips and then he says to me “ Ya’ know KID. Ya’ Done pretty GOOD out there today.”

Now.... I am STUNNED into SILENCE...(quite unusual for me ...as ANYone who knows me will tell you). And while I ponder how to respond to this comment we both take another taste and I notice Jonesy again takes a small sip.

As I am about to reply Jonesy lets fly with “Heardju’ been around the country for a while...kinda’ NICE to fly with somebody who knows what they’re DOIN’ for a change.” My God! Knock my off my STOOL fer crissakes. He’s CONTINUING! ‘If ya’ can fly instruments pretty good you might jes’ do FINE around here”. Another sip of Crown Royal and half the second glass has survived about two or three minutes so far.

I would come to learn that every glass lasted between five to seven minutes for Jonesy. Each and every sip also had the mysterious ability to further lubricate Jonesy’s vocal chords, both in number of words spoken and volume as well. It was shaping up to be an INTRESTING night.....
Chapter Eleven - “...AND If Ya’ Ask Me AGAIN”

As the hands moved around the face of the clock once, twice, and then a third time I pointed out to Jonesy....WHEN I could get a word in EDGE-wise... for the SECOND time (he’d ignored my first SUBTLE suggestion, being distracted by his thirty-fouth, fifth and SIXTH “fingers” of Crown Royal) that the restaurant was about to CLOSE for the night and MAYbe we should get something to EAT !! :-?

Again the big meaty right paw rubs circles over what could now be EASILY and rightfully mistaken for a KEG of WHISKEY and he allows as how “I dunNO! I’m startin’ ta’ get pretty FULL right now!” :wink: And he turns to holler at the bartender for another round before returning to the spine-chilling story he is relating to me and a half-dozen other pilots from our company and others who have come to wash the days cares and concerns away in what is generally for most of us a nightly alcoholic group hangar-flying and girl chasing ritual.

Jonesy is ten minutes deep into his latest hair-raising story from his Air America days and has been pretty much talking non-stop for the last hour and a half, something MOST folks figure I’M the king at. But I can’t come NEAR touchin’ his stuff.

Flying an old Curtiss C-82 Jonesy has been shot-up by small arms fire from the ground, lost number one....had a fire.....gone half inverted....every horrible thing that can happen in a war zone :yikez: and about five minutes deep into the story as he had paused to take a sip of whiskey...having finally gotten his recalcitrent number one prop to feather....I asked just outta’ curiosity ya’ know, “So Jonesy...what wuz ya’ HAULin’??” And he turned to me and grunted one word. “Rice!”

He then resumes tellin’ the story about how the number TWO and LAST engine starts ta’ over heat from the strain of carryin’ the overload an’ the co-pilot has to go back an’ start kickin’ some of the heavier crates outta' the ass end on accounta’ his regular kicker is out cold from some shrapnel that penetrated the side of the cargo compartment an’ DARK is comin’ on an’ ....I interrupt again to ask....” So....WHAT was you carryin’ in the CRATES Jonesy??” (knowing rice generally comes in 50 lb. Burlap sacks) :roll: Again Jonesy turns to me and says somewhat heatedly “Ah TOLJA’...RICE!” :x

By the time the co-pilot gets back up to the front the number two engine temps are pegged out and things are lookin’ pretty grim for the good guys but were still heading for our destination some mountainside strip by some tribal village an’ MAYbe that ol’ # 1 engine can be brought back to life and OH Lord...now there’s more SMALL arms fire coming up an’ the ceilings coming down an’....” Now WAIT a minute Jonesy” I interrupt again. :Gpurplex: Continuing I say “Now Nobody is gonna’ go to all THAT trouble for a load a’ rice. (Pause is met with silence from all) so WHAT was ya’ HAULin fer cryin’ out loud!!??”

Jonesy turned to the bar and picked up his freshly filled shot glass and for the first time since we sat down drained it again in two gulps before turning to answer me. His coal black eyes had ( I swear) FLAMES in them as he muttered quietly, for only me to hear. :Ghothead: “ I’ll tell you one....last.....TIME! It was RICE! And if ya’ ASKS me again....I’ll be oblidged ta’ KILL YA! Unnerstand??” :evil: And after voicing my agreement Jonesy allowed as how I’d BEST be a gettin’ home as we had a hangar fulla’ STUFF to fly tomorrow!! :agrue:

Ya' GOTTA wonder. I mean I looked in the man's eyes and....I beLIEVED HIM! This was 1984, well OVER a DECADE since the "war" had ended and yet this man was STILL bound by secrecy. Makes you wonder what they threatened HIM with if he TOLD!!

Momma’ CloudDancer didn’t raise no fool. I paid my tab and LEFT!! :Gwhoa:

I arrived at the airport early the next morning. A bellyful of greasy hash browns and a huge cheddar cheese ‘n ham omelet along with two biscuits slathered in butter and strawberry jam all washed down by a gallon of :morning: and three glasses of orange juice had reduced the pounding in my head to a dull throbbing which was MOSTLY cured with some straight oxygen from the Twin Otters on board system.

I expected that last night had been a “breakthrough” of some sort for me ‘n Comanche Jones and that today I would see a more talkative and “sharing” 8) Captain Jonesy........NOT!!

You know that Bill Murray movie “GroundHog Day”. Run THAT through your mind.

Day TWO was identical to Day One with Jonesy. Only SOME of the villages were different and my hangover made the first trip rather unpleasant. :cry:

Once again at the end of the day I was following Jonesy at full speed into the hotel’s front doors ostensibly to go to the restaurant again when the big damn Indian screeched to an abrupt halt in precisely the same spot halfway through the turn to the restaurant doors and I smacked into his backside again. Rub, Rub...growl, growl....”Not good....empty stomach...” Iced rocks glass...1st three fingers gone in two gulps.....second fill....small sip....oooohhhhhh-KAY!! I’m beginning to sense a pattern here. No dinner two nights in a row.

The third nite I kept THREE paces behind Jonsey entering the hotel, avoided the rear end collision, and ordered food delivered to the bar. For ME, of course ‘cause Jonesy ...well.....He didn’t KNOW fer SURE.....but he thought he was gettin’ kinda’ FULL alREADY!!

And near as I can tell....the only cargo Jonesy EVER hauled on ANY of his flights in Southeast Asia was...you guessed it....RICE!!

Now. While all this stuff might be a LITTLE funny and SOMEwhat interesting I’ve told you nothing here so far that appears to be of LEGENDARY status. So you MUST find yourself asking...so WHAT....is with this LEGEND stuff??!!

Well, my friends...read on....and you’ll discover a reMARKable and TRUE tale!
Chapter Twelve - How LONG Can You Hold YOUR Breath?

Anaktuvuk Pass. To this DAY...sitting in my warm home, happily enveloped in my overstuffed and sturdy, cozy, reclining and rolling high backed writing chair; those two words can bring a very slight increase of mental and muscular tension. :eek:

At an altitude of 2200 feet or so MSL at the village of the same name, the pass peaks on it’s (generally) north-south passage through the Brooks Range. Starting just to the immediate northeast of Bettles, the southern entrance is a comfortable distance across width wise and would allow (for the first few miles northward anyway) for a reasonably comfortable “U-turn” even at the lowest of altitudes...as long as you slowed down a lot first, hung out the flaps, and were proFIcient at your steep turns.

Once more than twenty miles or deep INto the pass northward, well......let me put it THIS way. Remember the old Gary Larson “Far Side” cartoon of the two airline pilots in the clouds in their cockpit looking out and seeing a Dahl sheep out the window standing on a rocky hillside off to the side and ABOVE them???? :crazyeyes: I’ll give you five to one odds that Mr. Larson MUST have been riding with one of the multiple daily “scheduled airline” flight to this bustling metropolis of 280 hardy souls or so.

I can’t even reMEMber how MANY times I sat, butt-cheeks clenched tighter’n the skin on a banjo, :-? on the edge of my Cessna 207, Piper Navajo Chieftan, Cessna 402 or Bandierante’s Captain’s chair for what ALWAYS seemed like eTERnity. “Cruising” anything BUT leisurely in slow flight northbound up the pass at five hundred or four hundred or so feet with the pass narrowing to MAYbe about a mile in width or so....KNOWing that the tops of the peaks were alREADY a couple of thousand feet higher than you and growing.

More than HALF the time either a steady solid consisent version of precip...either rain or snow depending on the day.....is falling and holding visibility down to something between two and five miles OR you are also trying to weave THROUGH of just slightly aROUND if possible, (without knocking some poor ol’ sheep offa’ his or her ledge with your wingtip) :bad-words: scattered more intense areas of precip that reduce visibility to below two mile when you plow THROUGH them.

As I recall (and MasterRod, feel free to correct my memory here if I’m in error as you been there a few more times than I have) 8) the pass makes about a 110 to120 degree right turn (when flying south to north) just shortly past the half-way point distance-wise. Just before the turn it gets pretty tight down low and you are COMMITTED to making the turn past a certain point. Once you negotiate it successfully however, there IS a surprisingly WIDE area free from rocks where you could practice slow flight steep turns and take a few easy, deep and relaxing breathes if you don’t like what you see ahead of you. :cry: For the pass narrows tight one last time before opening to all of two-and-a-half to three miles wide immediately south of the village a couple or three miles.

ANYwhere you are in the pass, unLESS there is literally NO room between your airplane and the ground whizzing by you beneath your props.....you are subject to have another airplane from SuperCub size to DC-6 freighter flash by underneath you. :nutz: (MasterRod and I have passed a TIME or two.)
Once you GET to Anaktuvuk there is a flat mesa type ledge of rock to the immediate (three hundred yards or so) west side of the village that runs north-south to parallel the runway about three hundred feet or so higher than the runway elevation. From this ledge the western walls of the pass rise steeply and immediately to something ( I really can’t remember exactly) at least THREE if not four thousands of feet above you. With the pass AT the village being no more than three miles wide....one MUST be EXTREMELY careful when circling or flying a left downwind for a north (USUAL and slightly UPhill) landing on runway 36.

From the village northward the pass gradually keeps opening SLIGHTLY on a northerly heading for a few miles before making about a thirty degree left hand turn. It continues to widen and drop heading northwest until emptying out onto the North Slope southeast of Umiat.

On one of those VERY rare clear and sunny days....Anaktuvuk Pass has all the beauty of the Swiss Alps and words are totally inadequate to describe it’s stunning appearance. :love:

The OTHER 95% of the time it is one of those .......those.....PLACES. :yikez: Places like......Gambell or damn near ANYwhere on “the Chain” (the Aleutians)....or QUITE a few places in southeast I’ve heard of but never seen (you southeast drivers get a HEAP of my respect TOO!)

Places that....while they have that rare capacity to be awesomely beautiful; more OFTEN THAN NOT, as in USUALLY....especially in the pre-radar....pre-GPS.....hell....pre NAVAID of ANY kind days.....THESE were the places that, when you knew you had a trip or two to go there tomorrow; you REALLY dreaded even setting the alarm clock the night before. :cry:

As you might figure given the description above, it was “just one of those days” when Comanche Jones and some poor hapless youngster in the right seat (probably STILL in therapy) :drinking: flew the leg that was destined to make the man....a walking legend.
Chapter (Lucky) Thirteen - Cumulus Ganitus INTERRUPTUS !!

Actually...the weather wasn’t ALL that bad...for Anaktuvuk that is. :-?

With the overcast slightly above the tops of the mountains and a five or so miles of visibility in a steady light snow and reasonably light winds the trip IN to Anaktuvuk from the north side had been relatively easy. Approaching from the north side was ALWAYS easier as the pass was noticeably wider north of the village, making it slightly easier for the Barrow based operations to get there.
Many times, when the south entry was unpassable and we had lots of go-juice in the tanks, it was SOP for us south-side boys to punch up and fly across the Brooks Range on top. Sometimes you’d luck out and there might be a hole over the village you could drop down through and if not; then you would motor on over to Umiat where there was a very low power (5 watt I think) NDB. I don’t remember what the approach minimums were...yes...there really WAS an F.A.A. approved approach procedure but.....well....the MDA WAS really more of a sugGEStion wasn’t it??!! :wink:

So....if you could find the ground thataway......make a low pass over the Umiat runway to check your DG and barrel off on a heading for the pass’s northern entrance. But Jonesy had apparently had it fairly easy going in and expected the same coming out. Being empty to boot...except for the outgoing mail, usually a dozen or so mail bags and boxes. His Twin Otter would climb like a homesick :Ginnocent: and get him above the peaks again in a few short minutes after liftoff.

Now, I’d been to Barrow dozens of times as well as Anaktuvuk....BUT I’d only been beTWEEN the two a couple of times. Jonesy on the other hand had done the trip countless times out of Barrow. So on this fine morning he chose to save miles, gas and minutes by taking a direct heading for Pt. Barrow as soon as he was above the level of the closest mountains. Probably something about a forty-five degree left hand cut off the northerly running pass at that point.

This would result in Jonsey having to cut across diagonally five...or was it SIX....closely spaced “rows” of peaks that were between him and the all but sea level flat North Slope of the Great Land. Upon passing the last row he could comfortably drop down to three hundred feet if he wanted to and scare the crap outta’ the caribou the rest of the two hundred nautical or so miles home.

It seems however that the weather, not unusually, had rolled in off the arctic shores behind him and was worsening unbeknownst to him. I mean...how’s he SUPPOSED to know? Until he gets back within radio range of Umiat which has a SOMEtimes operational :x connection to BRW FSS, he’s on his own. A situation with which he is quite comfortable.

But as he progresses northwestward and the snow intensifies dropping visibility, he apparently somehow lost count or miscounted (by ONE) :oops: how many lines of peaks he had crossed. This wee but not insignificant mathematical error would shortly bring a MOST unpleasant surprise. For now though Jonesy, confident that flat land lay ahead initiated a slow (thankfully) descent toward what he figured was the flat tundra lying far below.

Sidebar - Now, for the MOST part dear readers...ol’ CloudDancer’s testicles are....and reMAIN normal sized. :roll: This along with the fact that I am not sure whether it actually is five OR SIX rows of mountains accounts for the fact that I would never even TRY this. ReMEMber...as MasterRod said in his post earlier in the thread.... “Kids...DON’T try this at home!!”

So WHAT pray tell is Jonesy doing. Is he CRAZY?!?! :crazyeyes: Well...I dunno’...weren’t nobody SHOOTIN’at him at the moment, remember??! I guess now we should return to our story, and while many of you can most certainly “see” what lies ahead for the Comanche...HE can’t. At least, not QUITE yet.....

Concentrating as they must have been on their gauges, I don’t even know which of the two seemingly doomed pilots first look up and outside to find their windshield rapidly filling with snowcovered cumulo graniti. I don’t know if there were any sheep, standing dis-intrestedly off to one side; :Ghuh: standing stock still watching as the bird metal bird came screaming out of the snow obscured arctic skies. And I really don’t know...’cause I don’t think they noted who screamed out the first response.

Only one response is appropriate. The one that is often the last two words on the cockpit voice recorder transcript before the fateful words “sounds of impact” at the end. And as funny man Bill Cosby once said.... “First.....you SAY it....then you DO IT!!” :bad-words:

The “Oh #$%^ !!” :yikez: was accompanied with a simultaneous hard pitch up and Jonesy’s big right paw slamming the overhead throttles forward.

I can’t describe “the sound of impact” in this case and neither could the guy who told me about it and HE got the story straight from the kid in the right seat. It was instantaneous and brief and they ALmost made it...but NO-O-O-T quite. :cry:

But they WERE at flying speed and they just smacked into the top of the peak and hitting it with such forward motion that they only struck the mighty mountain a (for the mountain) glancing “blow” before careening off the top of the peak and back into the air now thousands of feet above the treeless Arctic tundra far below. (I dunno’ about YOU guys...but PERsonally...I think I’d rather have somebody :2gunfire: at me !!)

So now...here’s Jonesy and this kid...AIRborne still and descending earthward only TENUOUSLY “under control” at best as Comanche Jones struggles to keep the suddenly unstable, shaking and rattling and gyrating Dehavilland right side up :help with a control wheel that may or may NOT be having it’s normal effects on the attached (we hope) surfaces.

As the altimeter slowly unwinds Jonesy’s luck gets a little better as the intensity of the snow decreases and the ground appears further ahead as well, but still far below.

After several frantic long seconds turned to a couple of minutes Jonesy has now gotten a grasp on the new situation :Girk: and is in a stabilized steady airspeed slow descent and still pointed toward the ADF needle at the top of the dial pointing to Barrow. As typical for him he has uttered not a WORD one on this flight so far. Okay. He did scream TWO...but that’s ALL. He remains silent :zip: and intensely focused as he “holds what he’s got”. A specific pitch attitude, power setting, and airspeed are producing a calm (for the moment) relatively relaxing period :Gparp: as the Twatter descends toward the earth.

Once down to around three hundred feet or so, Jonesy must decide whether to keep going to BRW a distance of still better than two hundred nautical miles or so...or PLANT the thing on the frozen snow covered tundra. And while we ALWAYS carried survival gear this IS the North Slope. It IS COLDER than a well diggers ASS out there and we’re still in a nice warm stable (for the moment, at least) cockpit making progress toWARD civilization and possible rescue if needed. And I TRULY have NO idea how far inland POLAR BEARS like to venture. :eek: Jonesy elects to follow the course that has always worked for him in the past. Keep ‘er in the air.
Chapter Fourteen - “Hey. Spill a Little of That Over Here.”

As the miles slip past beneath the wounded DHC-6 Jonesy settles down. Still tensed up I’m sure :Gurgh: but somewhat comforted with four to five good miles of visibility in the now (again) light snow and Mother Earth no more than a mere three hundred feet away...(WHAT ! Like falling from three hundred feet and NINETY knots is gonna’ hurt LESS :yeow: than falling from three THOUSAND feet and a hundred and FORTY knots?!?!) Jonesy is now a test pilot experimenting briefly with the engines and control surfaces to discover how things are working NOW!!

He discovers that he has a five knot margin of operational airspeed. :( At eighty-seven knots indicated, fast even for a Twin Otter with the flaps UP, particularly when EMPTY....at eighty-seven knots he starts to get the stall warning horn. And at ninety-one knots the right wing, apparently wrenched loose from it’s NORMAL position by the excessive DOWNward forces of the impact with the offending mountaintop begins to flap up and down slightly in a way never intended by the engineers who designed the thing. :Gboggle: The up and down movement would NORmally be limited by the wing to fuselage strut which now has an unintended kink/buckle in it allowing for an unWANTED freedom of movement.

So there Jonesy sits...right arm extended upward....his big right hand wrapped around the throttles. DAMN!! It’s gonna’ take a LIDDLE longer to get back to base. :-?

As they plod along in silence only the thickness of the insulation in the kid’s snowsuit legs keeps the sounds of his knees knocking together in fear from sounding like a metronome at high tempo.

After LOOOOONG minutes of silence and watching the caribou scatter in every direction below as they whizz along the kid can’t take it any more and HAS to say SOMEthing. WHAT is going ON in Jonesy’s MIND??!! Will we be allRIGHT??!! Can I do Anything...and I mean ANTthing at ALL to help he thinks to himself?

“Ja....Ja...Ja-Ja-Ja......JONSEY!!” He finally blurts out. “Ssh...SSH..S.....SSH-SSh-SHOULD I go SEE if the WHEELS are still tha...tha....THA-THA.....THERE!!?? “. He asks plaintively.

“Naw”. Jonesy grunts quietly. “They’re gone”. He says with finality.

A couple of more minutes pass and “Ja...Ja....Ja-Ja...JONEsy!! Ssh....ssh...should I go SEE...if...if...the right...wa-wa-wa-WINGS!! O.K.??!!” he utters...DESperate to be useful, or maybe just comforted by the sight of the wing...I dunno.

“Nope”. Jonsey responds. “If it ain’t...we’ll know soon enough”. Conversation over. And the kid knows there is NO point in further trying to engage Comanche Jones in conversation this early before “dinner” time.

Spying the company provided lunch box still on the floor between the seats, and determined to do something...ANYthing to take his mind offa’ the situation :Geureka: the kid digs into the box for a small can of unsweetened Dole orange juice. Now. These are the baby cans. No taller than a good sized coffee mug and made of steel (or VERY thick aluminum) they hold ONLY about a half a cup and are sealed on top with a piece of sticky (or gummed) aluminum foil and can been a real pain in the ass to open ANYway. :Girk:

All the extra movement has attracted Jonesy’s attention and he now looks over his right arm at the kid. His right hand, holding the small can is shaking like a leaf in gusty winds. His left hand is too, and the kid...aware that Jonesy is eyeballing him is even MORE scared if that is possible. He wonders WHAT bit of admonishment or BAD NEWS may be forthcoming from the stoic man who holds both their lives so assuredly in his two hands at the moment.

Unfortunately since the right and the left hand are NOT shaking at either the same speed or in unison, the kid has a quite difficult time grasping the teeny un-“gummed” portion of the peel off can top. About now...I’m SURE Jonesy would NORmally be pouring himself a cuppa’ Joe and lighting off another Winston. UnFORtuntely...NORmal went OUT the window a few miles back. :wink:

Finally, by parking the can on his right thigh firmly, the kid is able to steady the can enough so that his shaky LEFT hand has a shot at catching the pop top which he does and then he RIPS !! It off with a VENGEANCE :bad-words: as if somehow IT is responsible for this mess.

The INstant he lifts the can from it’s resting position on his thigh however, the violent shaking of his right hand sends unsweetened orange juice flying everywhere about the right side of the cockpit until...finally able to locate his mouth with his trembling right hand, he drains the last small little sips from the bottom of the can.

As he finishes the can he tosses it back over his shoulder into the empty cabin behind where it clangs onto the plywood floor for a couple of bounces, and he turns to look into Jonesy’s eyes for a second. Jonesy grunts and looks away after a couple of seconds still silent. But as the kid turns to look forward (to the future?) Again....Jonesy mutters JUST loud enough to be heard over the sound of the engine noise.

“Hey KID! Why don’tcha SPILL one of those over here toward ME. Mah THROAT’S a’gettin’ kinda’ DRY....” :Ghuh:

Well, after a couple a hours or so they finally wheel the ol’ Twatter around the pattern at Barrow and line her up for what will prove to be her final landing. And as always, Jonesy sets her down on his target in the middle of the runway.

Due to the aforementioned undesigned for brief but quite excessive DOWNward wing loading; and the resulting effects; the impact of the belly landing was the straw that broke the camel’s back....or the Twatter’s back in this case.

No longer needed for either thrust or lift having hung around long enough to bring IT’s side of the airplane back along with it’s mate; the right wing, strut and engine now QUITE noisly wrench themselves free of the miracle air machine and promptly head off into the weeds and willows alongside the runway.

This leaves the now no LONGER asymmetrically weight-and-balanced fuselage and left wing/engine assembly to begin spinning in complete and repetitive circles until...all momentum spent....the now useless pile of no longer airworthy aluminum slid to a final stop on the ice and snow packed Barrow runway.

Thus emerged.....literally and figuratively a walking legend.

The END !!
Well Chronicle Critics - there ya' have it. The story of the Air America crazies. :nutz: Longest in duration of writing (August 24th thru November 2nd) not to mention a full fifty Word (im)Perfect pages. PHEEW! :Ggurn: There may have to be volumes I and II of the soon to be forthcoming "CloudDancer's Alaskan Chronicles" !!

And, lest SOME of you folks out there haven't read OTHER of the disclaimers throughtout the Chronicles I remind you that this STUFF really HAPPENED and only the names are changed to protect the innocent and out of consideration to those characters still living and their family members, many of whom are still involved in day-to-day Alaskan or worldwide aviation.

Heck. How do you think "Bounce", my on and off roomate in the early years got HIS nickname?? It sure wasn't for his REGULAR landings, but for one particular "smack 'n go" off a hillsomewheres northwest of Kivalina with good ol' State Trooper Lenny Johnson (from "Don't Look at ME, I'm Not Touchin' It") aboard.

His unforessen ('til the last second) and QUITE unintended "spot landing" doesn't make NEARLY as good a story though. On accounta' Bounce returned to base with all THREE wheels still attached and his wing strut didn't even BUCKLE. Although when he DID land back at Kotzebue the two main wheels were DECIDEDLY MUCH closer to ear level than they should have been. I guess it essentially WAS a belly landing for the old Cessna but the belly cargo pod absorbed most of the damage and the main gear just sorta' rolled alongside for the ride.

And I KNOW there was a third fella' whose name escapes me did it SOMEwhere....but I didn't know him personally.

Lord. I have stayed up WAY too late geting this done but I wanted you guys 'n gals to have closure.

I sure feel sorry for my first officer today (It's early A.M. here)

I'll probably wind up sleepin' halfway acrost the great USA at Flight Level 3-7-oh. Be just My luck. I'll for the first time (maybe) get some bodaciously good looking and single female F/O :love: and make a DANDY first impression. All sprawled out in my seat...tie askew, spare tire gut rising and falling...mouth open as I snort 'n snore my way through the atmosphere with drool sliding down from the corner of my mouth. :Gchimp: Yeah. It'll be a peachy day for BOTH of us.

Oh well. Come back NEXT week for what MAY be the FINAL Chronicle for at least a LITTLE while as I turn my attention to actually trying to get them published.

It's one I KNOW you can ALL relate to...no matter WHAT you fly. :wink:


CloudDancer :anon

Beg your pardon? The name? Oh!! What's the NAME of the next story?

"I'm From the F.A.A. :whis: , and I'm Here to Help"

CD :howdy
BRAVO! BRAVO! :up :up :cheers
Very well done,CD, very well done.
I can relate to so many different aspects of your flying in alaska and i dont think it can be put on paper any better than you have done :cheers
Aa-a-www.....SHUCKS !! Greg. :oops:

A heartfelt "Thank Ye" for your oh so kind words. It's a priveledge and an honor to have the opportunity to bring enjoyment and some laughter to at least a SMALL portion of the aviation community which has been so gracious and kind to me for over five decades now since I wuz a little toddlin', barely out of diapers CloudDancer. A Privelidge indeed.

There are SO many to whom I owe irrepayable debts of gratitude :Gbun: for their tutoring and guidance over the years.

I now head for my local aerodrome and prepare to mount up for this week's four day battle with the elements :p starting out with BOS's Logan late tonight.

See ya'll agin next week!!

Cloud(smoke 'em if ya' got 'em)Dancer :anon
Hey CD! Keep 'em comming. I look forward to your stories even more than the wheel vs. 3 point debate. Ernie can't hold a candle to you. Glad to hear you lived through the Twatter spot landing, .....now, about Bounce?????
P.S. Have you been in and out of EWR lately?
CloudDancer said:
I'll for the first time (maybe) get some bodaciously good looking and single female F/O :love: and make a DANDY first impression. All sprawled out in my seat...tie askew, spare tire gut rising and falling...mouth open as I snort 'n snore my way through the atmosphere with drool sliding down from the corner of my mouth.
CD :howdy

You forgot to mention that your toupee will slide askew and that you'll probably fart in your sleep..... :D :D

Bent !!! I LAUGHED 'til I CRIED. You'd be right too...if I HAD a toupee.

Fortunately good hair genetics runs in Poppa CloudDancer's Family so that's the ONE I DON'T have to confront. :roll: As to the farting...well.

Isn't that what the O2 masks are FOR ??!! (It's been RUMORED that women fart too...they just don't make a competative SPORT out of their various bodily emissions as men sometimes do.... :cheers )

Wingnut 18 - (and any OTHERS) - to KEEP the record straight - Ol' Cloudy was NOT GUILTY on this one. I wasn't even THERE. I heard the story numerous times in the immediate aftermath and the greatest majority of what I wrote about what occurred in the cockpit in the aftermath of the smash 'n go came from the REAL co-pilot's roommate.

I might add....I'm DAMN GLAD !! I wasn't there too!!

Ain't been to EWR for a coupple of months at LEAST and I'm curently sitting in the lobby of a Holiday Inn in Beantown (BOS) where I ALSO haven't been for quite a while. (on a VERY boring 24 hr plus layover)

My tummy is rumbling.....and since I don't DRINK on the road :up ....I guess I'm gonna' hafta' disappoint the memory of Comanche Jones :( an' go EAT on an EMPTY stomach !!

CloudDancer :anon
No JrCubBuilder - 'tis I who must apologize. I promise I'll do my best not to drag this stuff out so long....

But...as they say...(who the hell ARE "they" ANYway??!!)

The BEST laid plans....... :drinking: :morning: :toilet

CD :howdy