Greetings from the Flight Deck—Welcome Aboard!

…Join me on an adventure. A journey. A celebration of flight, regaling tales of world travel, and musings on the “ups n downs” of the rarely lucrative but always rich airline pilot career!

Follow the Adventure

Follow the Adventure...

Join this Site!



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Around the World in 80 Jumpseats—& Surprise Vid!

#blog #avgeek #airline #aviation

The following is an updated version of an article once slated to be published in Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine's "Flights & Fancy" section . . . a couple decades ago . . . .

A very short Thank You vid to all you birthday well-wishers!

(PS: A special Thank You to my good friend Mark, who I somehow missed in the vid!)

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, funny, humor, dog, cockpit


Tired of the daily commute to work? You say you live in Long Beach and the trek to downtown L.A. takes two hours?

You wimp. That’s peanuts to an airline pilot.

The phrase, “commuting to work” takes on a whole new meaning for the Chicago-based pilot whose spouse, kids and lawn mower are way back in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus

In every airliner cockpit, there is at least one "jump seat."
This seat is required so that FAA inspectors or Check Airman can occasionally fly along with line pilots for regular flight checks.
airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus, primary, secondary, cockpit
The dreaded B-737 Primary Jumpseat (L)...
and the even more dreaded Secondary.

Apparently, by Federal law, these jumpseats must be designed to be less comfy than a bed of nails.  I am convinced they were designed either by sadistic dentists, or line pilots hoping to keep said flight checks to a minimum.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus, boeing, 757, 767

When not in official use, these extra seats—however horrid—have become the commuting pilot’s life blood.  As a professional courtesy, airlines regularly tote each other’s pilots to and from work and home with this golden throne.  Hey, how else do you think we get to share each other’s company gossip?

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus, primary, a320
The A320 Primary jumpseat.

Fortunately, when the cabin is less than full, the commuter is allowed access to a more sane cabin seat.  Yes, even a coach seat is preferable to the cruel chair up front!

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus, boeing, 757
B-757 Primary Jumpseat...a bit skimpy on the leg room.

As an airline pilot, I’ve regularly trodden to and from work on that great car pool lane in the sky, logging nearly as many hours in back of the cockpit door as in front of it.  As a Phoenix, Arizona native, I've commuted to and from work in Albuquerque, Denver, and Washington, DC.

But even that's nothing. I recall the Boeing 727 captain for Pan Am (God rest the company’s soul) who used to commute twice a week from Bozeman, Montana . . . to Munich, Germany.  Or one of my recent first officers, who commutes from Phoenix, Arizona . . . to Chang Mai, Thailand.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus
A320 first jumpseat (L) and 2nd (center), with Capt's seat (R).
Still roomier than most...

When in uniform and sitting in the passenger cabin, I always feel like I’m on stage. At the slightest bump or klunk, white knucklers nervously glance to me with a, “Was that normal?” look.  To calm their nerves, I always flash them a reassuring smile. But I’m always tempted to grab the arm rests, bug out my eyes and shout, “What the hell was that!

My God, they’d panic.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus, boeing
Jumpseats may be cramped and uncomfy...

Pilots are notoriously cheap (yours truly included), and have exploited the jumpseat privilege for leisure travel as well. Like doctors and lawyers, pilots enjoy virtually for free the fruits of their profession. But, before salivating with envy over the perk, remember that there ain’t no such thing as a free inflight lunch. Pilots have either sacrificed years in the military, or in civilian flight schools (or both), and spent tens of thousands of dollars to get that “free” lunch.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus a320, pilot
...but they're a helluva window seat!

Though the jumpseating pilot may be on vacation, tasteful dress and impeccable behavior is still required. If not in uniform, the pilot must often wear suit and tie, or at least "business casual"—and certainly no imbibing, either.  White knuckle flyers, always looking for a bad omen, tend to spook upon glimpsing a cockpit crewmember decked in Bermudas, tank top and beachcombers, sipping a Piña Colada and flirting with the flight attendant.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus, boeing

Besides stringent dress codes, jumpseating has evolved other traditions and protocol as well. For instance, after the captain approves the jumpseat request, the traveler must always thank him personally. Once this is done, the jumper is often invited to take a seat in the cabin, if any are available. A jumper who fails to thank the captain may be asked to step outside—at cruise.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus
Off to SFO for lunch!

Another tradition is—surprise!—common courtesy. The jumpseater is nothing more than a high class hitchhiker**, a freeloader who can be kicked off the train at the slightest sign of ingratitude. Woe to the cocky pilot who, with a condescending sneer, demands a jumpseat ticket from an already overburdened gate agent. Somehow, the paperwork always seems to lose itself in the honeycomb of the podium . . . only to be found a few seconds after the plane has pushed back. 

All travelers could learn a lesson here, too: no matter how many connections you’ve missed, how many bags you’ve lost, no matter how many coffees have scalded your privates from a well-timed trounce through turbulence, never, ever piss off a gate agent—your ticket may be "inadvertently misplaced," too!

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, airbus
When not in use, a nice place to stow a flight crew rollerboard!

Contrary to the traveling public, who normally books flights fourteen-plus days in advance and rigidly sticks to the travel agency itinerary, the jumpseating pilot wings it (scuz the pun).

red bull, airline, aviation, avgeek, humor, cartoon, funny

For example, let’s say you’ve just finished a gruelling four day flight schedule that dumps you off (only ten minutes late) in Podunk, New York, and you’ve got to get back to LA for little Julia’s 3rd birthday. As the turbofans wind down, you race through the Airplane Shutdown Checklist, throw your Jepps navigation charts into the flight kit, grab your overnight bag, shout “See-ya!” to the crew with whom you just lived through four days of toil, dash off the flight deck and fly like, well, O. J. through the terminal to the gate for the direct flight from Podunk to LAX.

airline, aviation, avgeek, misconnect, humor, funny

Of course, it’s gone. Pushing back, in fact, right before your bloodshot eyes and slumping shoulders, having departed exactly on time (you arrived ten minutes late, remember?)

Now comes the game I call, Airline Hopscotch.

You frantically search the nearest Departure screen for the quickest way outta here . . .

airline, aviation, avgeek, humor, funny, airport, gate

"Let’s see in twenty minutes there’s a Delta out of Gate twelve direct to Chicago, and from there I could connect with United to San Francisco, but American goes to Dallas in an hour, and from there I could take USAir to Phoenix then Southwest to LAX.  Or else I could . . . .

You get the picture.

airline, aviation, avgeek, connection, airport, funny, humor
Yep, even pilots can look like this!

Anywhere, at anytime, your grand scheme of cross-country connections could be shot down like Canadian geese through an Airbus turbofan. The jumpseat is typically first-come-first-served, so if another pilot makes it ahead of you, it’s time to recalculate. Weather, mechanical problems or even a missing inflight meal could delay you ten, twenty, ninety agonizing minutes or more, and your whole itinerary augers in, flaming. (By the way, it has been scientifically proven that the time of delay on Flight One is inversely proportional to the connection time to Flight Two—the shorter the connect, the longer the delay.)

Okay, so you made it on the United to Chicago. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief and happily sip an orange juice back in coach. But wait!  You’ve arrived an hour late and missed the connection to San Francisco.

airline, aviation, avgeek, airport, gate, misconnect

Now it’s time revise the plan of attack.  Time to connect the dots through a few more terminals, cities and airlines.  The old joke, “I just flew in, and boy are my arms tired!” rings sadly true when one must suddenly tote armloads of carry-ons from Terminal A to the connection in Terminal E.

Fortunately, today's technology has allowed commuting-pilot types to finally throw away pounds and pounds of airline timetable connection books, and simply use an app or two.
airline, aviation, avgeek, iphone
Next Flight app: shedding tons of baggage off the commuting pilot!

This leads us to another aspect of airline jumpseating: traveling light. This is mandatory. No U Haul-sized checked baggage allowed—you never know if you’ll make it home to LAX, or end up camping out in the concrete jungle of plastic chairs in JFK.

A word of caution for those groundpounders bold enough to entertain the idea of jumpseating illegally.

airline, aviation, avgeek, jumpseat, jump seat

This year, wannabe-jumpseater Philippe Jernnard was quickly nabbed in the cockpit of an airliner when he posed as a deadheading Air France pilot.  He merely wanted to avoid the cramped quarters of Coach and get a free upgrade.  Instead, he faces Federal charges.***

catch me if you can, pilot, jumpseat, space, airline, aviation, avgeek, funny, humor

Still tempted?  Better stop and read Catch Me if You Can, the true story of infamous con man Frank Abignale. In it, Abagnale explains the difficulties of jumpseating when does not know the ritual or the lingo.

Fake airline I.D. in hand, Abagnale posed as a deadheading pilot to travel cross-country on a jumpseat. When asked by a “fellow” pilot, “What equipment you on?,”
Abignale froze. Clueless to the fact that this industry buzzword equipment meant airplane, he replied hopefully, “Uh, General Electric!”

As Abignale and Jernnard both learned, a landlubber posing as a pilot stands out like a ticking Samsonite.

Here's a scene from the movie, Catch Me if You Can. Sadly, it glosses right over the "What equipment you on?" gig.  But it's still a hoot!:

— — — — — — — — —

**During research, I found a fun blog called, "Jet Hiking," wherein the blogger is attempting to hitchhike to all 50 states . . . . in private planes!  Check out: and

***A word about jumpseat security: Post-9/11, U.S. airlines now have a nationwide electronic verification system.  Every jumpseater must be verified via this system before being allowed onto the flight deck.  (Jernnard had simply wandered into the cockpit while the door was open during boarding.)

— — — — — — —

Blogging in Formation Week!
Posts all week beginning Saturday, June 29!

 airline, aviation, avgeek

This week's subject: "The Future of U.S. Aviation
airline, aviation, avgeek, future

Cap'n Aux post: Wednesday, July 3 @ 12am PHX

Hotlinks to Blogging in Formation sites:
Sunday, June 30: Andrew Hartley
     (Smart Flight Training—
Monday, July 1: Brent Owens
Tuesday, July 2: Karlene Petitt
     (Flight to Success)
Wednesday, July 3: Eric Auxier (Adventures of Cap'n Aux)
Thursday, July 4: Ron Rapp
     (House of Rapp)
—  —  —  —  —  —

Posting Wednesday, July 10

space, cartoon, airline, aviation, avgeek, funny, humorspace, cartoon, airline, aviation, avgeek, funny, humor

Aviation Cartoons by Cap'n Aux!
— — — — — — —


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Interlude: Cap'n Aux's Birthday Surprise!

#blog #avgeek #aviation #airline


Today I was surprised by a "Happy Birthday" video made by YOU—it's so incredible, I just had to share it with the world!

Special thanks to:
the Hacketts
Jason the Banjo Man


But wait!  There's more...

THANKS, CHAD, hysterical!

And Finally...
My Video Response!

Direct Link:

— — — — — — —

Posting June 26 @ 11:00 PHX
"Around the World in 80 Jumpseats"
A Pilot's Eye View of the World from the Cockpit Jumpseat!

—  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —

Coming up:
Blogging in Formation Week!
Posts all week beginning Monday, July 1!

Cap'n Aux post: Wednesday, July 3 @ 8am
— — — — — — —


Saturday, June 15, 2013


#blog #vlog #opinion #fathersday #avgeek #aviation

An essay...



Note:  The following is an opinion article submitted to the Wall Street Journal on 16 May, 2013.*


Southern California.  Inspired by his airline pilot uncle, a young 19 year old man plots with excitement his first solo cross country in an airplane.

Boston, Massachusets.  Inspired by his radical Muslim big brother, a young man plots with excitement to bomb the Boston Marathon.

Two young, impressionable men.  Barely adults.  Both with role models.  And both on wildly different paths.

How does this happen?  Where did we go wrong?  And how do we fix it?

As a father of three, grandfather of two, and an airline pilot who blogs about his adventures, I have unwittingly found myself in another roll—that of role model.  I do not take lightly this newfound position.  As they say in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  As we all know.

Or do we?

Long before Charles Barkley declared, "I am not a role model," impressionable youth have idolized others, for myriad reasons.  Some reasons are reasonable, others ridiculously random.  Some role models are deserving, others . . . deplorable.

Eighteen is the most dangerous age.  Fully adult, we suddenly have absolute power over our lives.  But we are armed with scant experience to help us make sound decisions that will shape our future.  Indeed, we are barely conscious of the enormity these little decisions have.

 I have encountered first hand this ironic dichotomy in our youth.  A large demographic of my readers are young men and women about to embark on a career that they hope will lead them to the cockpit of an airliner.  They are from all walks of life, from all financial, regional, family and cultural backgrounds and challenges.  But they all share one thing:  a dream.

This dream shapes their every action.  They study hard in school, work hard at jobs, and typically have a positive, supportive relationship with their parents.  They are singularly focused, and driven.  These are the traits that will help them “make it” in the world, regardless of whether they ultimately achieve their goal.

The unfocused youth is still driven.  But they are the vulnerable youth, for they are searching for one thing:  acceptance.  And they will find it, whether it be at the hangar or the hangout.  The soccer team or the street gang.  The coffee shop or the meth lab.  And through this acceptance, they will shape their future.  And ours as well.

Who’s at fault?  We are.

The realities of our mobile society are accelerating.  In moving from the farm family to the nuclear to mixed, America has severed its roots from the wisdom that older cultures have known for centuries—the bond of family.  We pay lip service to the phrase, “It takes a village,” but in reality we have cast family aside as an inconvenient truth.  We have abandoned the traditional family* and gone our own way.  And we are reaping what we have sewn.

The family unit of old served to provide, among others, three fundamental needs:  stability, peace, and identity.  In short, love.  And with that, the drive of youth is not wasted in searching for acceptance; they already have it.  They are now free to search for themselves.  To find and pursue their dreams.

We in the States cherish freedom above all—as well we should.  But have forgotten that, with great freedom comes great responsibility.  In our drive to remain “free,” we have abandoned our youth to make their own way.

In our drive to “get ahead,” we often make the same mistake.  Mom and dad both working is equivalent to a single parent household: for a large part of each day, Junior has been abandoned.  

The key, again, is love.  Only when our society as a whole begins to reflect on the failures of the fractured family, only when we each of us come to realize that most basic truth—the love of a child trumps all—will the arc of our societal ills begin to mend. 

A single parent is admirable, and deserves our great respect.  But, perhaps, rather than taking that second job to make ends meet, the single parent—and the dual parent household alike—should consider instead spending more time at home.

God knows it will pay vastly more dividends.

*In reference to the May 16, 2013 WSJ article, Boston Suspect Left Note in Boat (
*“Traditional family” here means two parents, one or more children, along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  An entire support team network.  The “gay marriage debate" is outside the scope and point of this essay.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my loving father, Richard.
A proud boy and his daddy.  With my big brothers, circa 1965, at the Grand Opening of Daddy's Firestone store.

Dad, you always took time out every day to play with me and my pals,
and always supported me in everything I ever did.

Thank you!  I love and miss you!!!


Posting June 26 @ 11:00 PHX
"Around the World in 80 Jumpseats"
A Pilot's Eye View of the World from the Cockpit Jumpseat!

— — — — — — — — — —
Coming up:
Blogging in Formation Week!
Posts all week beginning Monday, July 1!

Cap'n Aux post: Wednesday, July 3 @ 8am


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

#Blogformation - My Most Memorable Flight

#avgeek #blog #aviation #airline

"Launch my career or die?
What the F*&%$ did I just get myself into?"

Blogging in Formation Week!

This month's theme: "My Most Memorable Flight"

 For my most memorable flight, I am reposting a story about the most hair-raising flight of my life . . . which turned out to be a watershed moment in my career.  A fictional account of this incident appears in my novel, The Last Bush Pilots, and serves as the crux of the story for DC Alva, a young cheechacko (greenhorn) bush pilot.

Steve Wilson fuels his trusty Luscomb for a little playtime.
Steve, you taught me so much about flying the bush, and about the simple joys in life.
You will be sorely missed.


The sky fell.  There’s no other way to describe it.  The sky just . . . fell. 
My fellow Alaska bush pilots had described it to me once.  At the time I had only half-believed them.  Surely they were spinning yarns, telling tall tales.  Ghost stories over Chinook beers at the Red Dog Saloon in downtown Juneau, to spook the gullible Alaska cheechacko.
A boy and his plane.  My AZ neighbors visit.
But there I wuz, ripe old age of 25, with a “whopping” 2,200 flight hours,* driving a single engine, 6-passenger Cessna 207 prop plane  to Tlingit Indian villages and logging camps, laden with frozen freight, frozen fish and frozen locals, through the perpetually soggy skies of Southeastern Alaska, when it happened.
Launch my career or die?
What the F*&%$ did I just get myself into?
Born, raised and flight trained in the “severe clear” sunny skies of Arizona, this wet world was as alien to me as Planet Pandora.  I might as well have been beamed there to fly dragons.
“Dude, get up here now!  They need pilots yesterday!” my buddy Kevin had exclaimed over the scratchy phone line only a few weeks earlier, calling from Planet Alaska.  “I’m flying for Wings of Alaska,* a great charter company out of Juneau.”
Steve touches down on a beach.
Staring out the window into yet another sunny, 100-degree day in Phoenix, my brain could not begin to fathom the perils of his offer.   Having just lost two jobs and my “First Big Break” in a poker game,*  I was desperate for employment.
And then comes the wettest month on Juneau’s record.
Moreover, I needed something exceptional to push me to the next rung on the aviation ladder.  Something to make a prospective employer say, “Wow!

Something to bag me that Holy Grail of aviation, the Major Airline.
Fueler Gary and trusty sidekick Dozer.

“I’m there,” I replied, and hung up.  This, I had decided in a microsecond, was the “Wow” I was looking for.
Alaska bush pilot: the most hazardous job in aviation.   Scud running (flying visually, dodging low clouds, rain, fog and “cumulogranite”—mountains lurking inside clouds) to remote villages, fishing canneries and logging camps.
Between the utter lack of instrument nav systems and extreme mountainous terrain, there was no other way to get the job done.
I would either launch my career or die.
Hanging up the phone, the butterflies hit.  Launch my career or die?  What the F*&%$ did I just get myself into?
A very, VERY good day for flying up the Icy Strait.
As a cheechacko, you had to quickly learn the gig: fly along the pine tree-walled shoreline; navigate by "pilotage"—matching coast, mountains and landmarks to the VFR Sectional chart in your lap; cross ocean channels at high enough altitude to glide to shore, in case of engine failure.
Three miles visibility in rain and fog is a good day.
For that was your only hope:  land on one of the scant few, bolder-strewn beaches or sand bars.   Or crash into the carpet-thick forest, frigid ocean channel, or cumulogranite.
Racing a cruise ship up the Lynn Canal to Skagway.

Your destination was always a short runway or dirt strip carved out of the forest or mountainside.  Buzz the field to chase away the bears, moose and other varmints, circle back and land.

Oh yeah, and did I mention weather?  In Alaska, it’s all about weather.  A 1-degree spread between temperature and dew point (the temp at which air turns to cloud) is a good day.  A 1,000-foot overcast with three miles visibility in rain and fog, spectacular.
“Pucker Factor 10.”  I now know exactly what that means.
Despite lucking out and experiencing such “spectacular” conditions for my first few weeks in AK, the low overcast and fog constantly provoked claustrophobia.  About “Pucker Factor 3,” according to Kevin—referring to how tight one’s sphincter got during the flight.  On a scale of 1-10, of course.

A black bear runs for cover as I touch down in Kake.

And then comes the wettest month on Juneau’s record . . .
The Road to Kake . . .

. . . Pressing down the coast of Admiralty Island at 800 feet agl from JNU (Juneau) to AFE (Kake, pronounced "cake", a Tlingit village,)* I am steadily forced lower and slower by the slate grey overcast and fuzzy fog .

Whitecaps appear on the water; the wind’s picked up.  Light turbulence kicks in.  My passengers and I bounce along as if driving down a dirt road.
Power back.  Slow from 115 knots to 90.  First notch of flaps out . . . 2nd notch.  Pitch over and ease lower.  750 feet . . . 700 . . .
Pucker Factor doubles, to 6.

The sky fell.

Ocean spray; the wind’s really whipping.  Moderate turbulence.  We’re slammed against our seatbelts.  4-wheelin’ now.
Pucker Factor 8, Mr. Sulu.
Squinting through my Serengeti sunglasses, I can just make out the turn of the coastline a mere half mile ahead.  Barely time to glance at the Sectional chart.  At least by now I’ve memorized the route and terrain, which helps immensely.
But then it happens.  The sky falls.
But then it happens.  The sky falls.
The rain turns to fog, which turns to cloud, which turns to rain, which turns to . . .

Like a water balloon bursting in slo mo, the black bottom disgorges from the cloud base.

600 . . . 500 . . . I push the yoke forward and dive, desperate to stay clear.  My scant 1/2 mile visibility, myopic only seconds before, now seems a decadent luxury.
Dropping full flaps and slowing to 60 knots—the slowest I dare go in this turbulence—I yank and bank along the curving coastline.  Treetops whiz by.  No time for even a glance at the Sectional.  
450 . . . 400 . . . the black forces me lower.  I’m now level with  the pines, blazing by to my right.  A startled eagle takes flight from his nest—above me.  A brown bear swipes at me yards below, his angry yellow eyes forever searing into my memory.
ak alaska eagle flight flying juneau bush pilot
A startled eagle takes flight—from above me.
The engine screams.  The landscape blurs.  The turbulence pummels.  My brain overloads with the maddening cacophony of sight, sense and sound.

Pucker Factor 10:  I now know just exactly what that means.
Sweat trickles down my side.  My eyes cloud over.  Gripping white on the yoke, my hands shake.  I begin to hyperventilate.
So this is how I'm gonna go.
And take a few innocent locals with me.
So this is it.  This is how I’m gonna go.  And take a few innocent, trusting locals with me.
Launch my career or die—how stupid could I be?  Stupid enough to kill myself and a few others, apparently.
My family will be devastated, I think.  Comfort each other with lines like, He died doing what he loved best.   My fellow pilots would be equally devastated.  But secretly think to themselves, I wouldn’t have been that stupid. Silently thank the sky gods it wasn’t them.  This time.
Cook Inlet, west of JNU.
“My family hunts down there.”

The voice jars me.  I shake my head, take a long moment to process its meaning.  I chance a glance at the Tlingit passenger sitting next to me.
"Huh?" I manage.
He smiles back at me.  “My family hunts down there,” he says brightly, pointing down at the absurdly rugged terrain racing by in a green blur.  “I got my first brown bear right . . . there!
Is he frickin’ kidding me?  We’re about to die, and he's sightseeing?
Startled back to reality, I let out a nervous, confused chuckle, and bank slightly to let him see his "Happy Hunting Grounds."
Rainbow falls on Eldred Island Lighthouse, Chilkat Channel.

That’s when revelation hits.

To this local, I realize, this is nothing.  To him, this isn’t a one-way flight to hell, it’s a jaunt down memory lane.

To him, Alaska is home.
Inexplicably, fear and panic evaporate.  The shakes disappear.  My breath slows to Yoga-calm.  It’s like Obi Wan Kenobi has whispered in my ear, “Use The Force, Luke.  Let go!

And I do.
I am a Jedi.  Like my friend before me.
Elation washes over me as I realize:  it's not a maddening cacophony, it's a beautiful symphony!

And I see, hear,  feel it all.
I am a Jedi.  Like my friend before me.
I deftly bank along sea and shore, earth and sky, dancing with Mother Nature to the symphony of water and air that She conducts.
Wings of Alaska Beaver on approach to JNU.

And, all of a sudden, She relents.
At 300 feet above the ground, the sky stops.  Reverses course.  Turns from black to grey to white to . . . blue.
Climbing with the base, I see all the way across Frederick Sound to Kake.
With a knowing smile, She has lifted the veil, and for the first time, with new eyes—with bush pilot eyes—I gaze upon my beautiful mistress named Alaska.
And I know I am in madly, deeply, hopelessly, in love.
Turning final to Kake--after buzzing the bears away.
To this day, I wonder whether my native passenger had made his statement out of complete innocence.  After all, Alaska was as much a part of him as the black braids of his hair.

Or, did he sense my panic and do his best to save me . . . to save us?

I can certainly, unequivocally, say that he did.
Either way, I know it was Mother Nature herself who decided, “You know, cheechacko, I think I’ll let you live.  For now.”
The Juneau Icefield.

When I left Alaska after that brief summer to fly Twin Otters in the Virgin Islands, I left a big chunk of my heart behind.
And took with me a healthy new respect for Mother Nature.

To this day, my buddy Kevin still plies
the Southeast Alaskan skies.

— — — —
— — — — 

This Week's Other Blogging in Formation Posts:


*I'm now twice that age, with nearly 10x the flight hours.  So it doesn’t seem so much any more!
*See Wings of Alaska website
*Kake, AK (AFE) is now a thriving paved runway, with lights and everything—oh, the luxury!
Kake strip: now a thriving, paved, lighted runway.  But the ATIS still reports, "Bears in vicinity of airport."


Posting June 16:
Special Father's Day VLOG & Essay
"Of Dreams, Dared and Dashed, and Death"


Posting June 26 @ 11:00 PHX:
"Around the World in 80 Jumpseats"
A Pilot's Eye View of the World from the Cockpit Jumpseat!