Author Topic: Great Mission Potential Here  (Read 2149 times)


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Great Mission Potential Here
« on: February 10, 2011, 12:46:23 PM »
Our friend, Glenn, AKA "BeaverDriver", gave me permission to post this story he wrote over at the "BushPounders" website.

Thanks Glenn.


"The Rescue"

The Dease Lake base was pretty much up and running, although we only had a single 185 on wheel skis there at present. Still we have been flogging her pretty good considering the season. Prospectors and trappers needed to be flown in and the fellow from Granite Lake Wilderness Lodge, with whom we had signed a contract to provide his air transportation for the upcoming summer season, was needing to get in and do some fixes to the buildings. So things were going pretty good and it was time to turn our attention to Prince Rupert.

Prince Rupert is a very busy, northern town as it provided an ice-free port year round. There was a lot of freighter and fishing traffic in and out of there and there was more than enough work for the incumbent operator and us. I had hitched a ride down to CYPR where Elaine, our first hired help who was to be our receptionist, booking agent and all round good person was busily working away in the office getting things sorted out. She had called a few prospective pilots who had put their names in to be interviewed for positions, but there was certainly no rush. We didn't have an aircraft at that base yet. We were, in fact, still looking for a machine. Primarily we thought we'd be flying mostly cargo up and down the coast, in bigger, IFR machines. We had our eyes out for a Cheyenne as it had proved itself so well in the UK with Sunrise (PWA's parent company), as had the Lear 24, which we were also on the look out for. However, there was proving to be plenty of work to go around for smaller, bush machines, and so we started to think bigger.

About 09:15 this Saturday morning, Elaine got a call from the radio operator up in the Khutzeymateen Park Office at the air strip there. A private pilot, who apparently had little experience, had flown his 185 into that field the previous evening. They guessed he wasn't prepared for a short runway in a narrow little valley, and had scared himself pretty badly. While the aircraft did go off the far end of the runway before ground looping, the radio guy figured there was no significant damage; at least, not to the aircraft. However, the pilot was so frightened, he didn't even want to get back in an airplane again, never mind actually fly that machine out of there. The strip is only 1200 feet long, which actually is plenty for a light 185, but I guess he was too upset and no amount of talking would get him back in that airplane. Anyway, the operator asked me if I wanted to come pick him and his airplane up and fly it out of there. The guys at B&H were all out flying, and the YPR base was secondary to their Bella Bella base anyway, and often people weren't around. I agreed, and immediately called Doug Filster and asked him if he'd be willing to fly me up in his Super Cub. As soon as I told him this was a revenue flight, he was on his way like a shot out of a cannon.

By 10:15 we were in the air headed for Khutzeymateen. It was a perfect, winter day in Prince Rupert, with clear skies but lots of haze. We followed (loosely) a series of valleys up into the Khutzeymateen. About 20 minutes after taking off, we saw the airstrip dead ahead and as we were into the wind in our present, easterly direction, Doug made an easy, straight in approach and landed more-or-less gently on the snow covered, dirt runway. That Cub can sure handle the short strips and we taxied probably 3/4s the length of the runway to the eastern end where there were a few hangars and buildings; and the 185 in question.

The pilot, Gregg, came out to meet us, marveling at the landing Doug had just made, and regaling us with his harrowing landing from the evening before. I asked him how much time he had in the 185, whereupon his reply was about 10 hours. Yes, he was new to the aircraft alright. I then asked how much total time he had, figuring it would be a fair bit to be flying a 185, especially in this country, but no, he had all of 80 hours total time.

"How is it you are flying a machine like this, in country like this, and into an airstrip like this, with only 80 hours?? I asked, rather incredulously! It turned out to be a typical case of lots of money, which, in some peoples' minds, seems to buy experience. It doesn't, and this, or worse, is usually the result. We walked around the area a bit chatting as I could tell he was extremely shaken. He was up from the city on his first real excursion into remote country and had this romantic notion that a 185 would make him an instant bush pilot, and he had found out the hard way that wasn't the case. Now he was afraid of flying. Period.

"Well," I said, "we have to get you out of here somehow. So, why don't we fly your 185 back to Prince Rupert and you can fly her south from there." He turned an ashen gray at the suggestion. This fellow had scared himself, but good! I explained that there was no other way out, unless he wanted to wait for the helicopter, but it only came in once or twice a month. That wasn't an option. Then he did the unexpected - he asked when the next commuter flight out of YPR was.

"What about your airplane? You aren't leaving that behind, are you?" I asked.

"Don't care. I can't get back in that thing," he said, obviously terrified at the thought. I had seen that kind of reaction before. Sometimes they get over it, sometimes they don't. This fellow was truly terrified though.

"OK, tell you what. Let's just get you out of here first. The 185 can easily make it out of here as long as we don't have too much gas and there is just the 2 of us on board." He had little choice, but he wanted me flying it. Given his condition, that was probably one of his better decisions this weekend.

He screwed up his courage and climbed into the right seat while I got the pre-flight done and finished siphoning off some of the fuel to lighten us up. I left slightly less than 1/4 tanks on each side, which was lots to get us back. As I fired up the engine, I thought he was going to pass out. He didn't, but things didn't look good. Taxiing to the very end of the south-facing runway, which would allow us a straight out departure down the valley to the ocean, I ran through my pre-takeoff checks. Engine gauges green, flight instruments good, master, mags, prop fine, mixture rich, cowl flaps open, flaps 20, trim set, fuel selector to BOTH, skis down. We were ready to go. I'm not sure but what Gregg didn't close his eyes as soon as I pushed the plunger in, but I was busy watching the runway ahead of me. The tail came up quickly, but I held the nose high due to the soft snow, and soon we were airborne and climbing over the trees. Flaps to 10, power to 25"/2550 RPM, flaps up and we were away.

The trip back at 4500 feet was very pleasant as the air was calm and the scenery spectacular. I love being around water and it was all ice up at Dease, so this was a treat.

Fifteen minutes after taking off from Khutzeymateen, we turned final for Prince Rupert. My landing could have been better I had to admit, and on the first bounce my passenger just about jumped out of his skin. I was worried for him.

"Know anybody who wants to buy a plane?" Gregg asked? "Yeah, I do, but are you really sure you want to sell her?" I replied. "You may regret this in the morning," I said.

"It's yours!" He said it so emphatically that it was my turn to jump. We drew up the papers right there and then and he signed them as fast as he could. "Look," I said, "I won't file these until Monday morning. If you change your mind, come in and see me and I'll tear these up. After that though, the plane is mine. Are you really sure you want to do this?"

"No question!" he replied. "Thanks," and he paid me for the ferry flight out. Gregg then headed over directly to the terminal and that was the last I ever saw of him. We had ourselves our first airplane.

Glenn (a.k.a. Beaver Driver)
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 01:05:33 PM by Bradallen43 »