Seaplanes along the Inside Passage
147 pages
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147 pages
English

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Description

What is it about Alaska that can make a young journalist from the East Coast abandon his career and become a bush pilot? Bruder's fascinating first-person account answers that question and lets the reader share his experiences as he becomes seasoned as a seaplane pilot flying the rugged terrain of Western Washington, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska.

The life of a bush pilot in southeast Alaska is filled with the exhilaration of having unique access to one of our last great spans of wilderness, balanced with physical discomfort, extremely long hours, and heart-pounding danger. Gerry Bruder gave up a promising journalism career to pursue his passion for flying. This true-life adventure provides readers with a fascinating firsthand account of the highs and lows of a modern bush pilot.


Preface
Chapter 1: NO WOLVES IN THE NEWSROOM
Chapter 2: THE COCKPIT BECKONS
Chapter 3: APPRENTICESHIP
Chapter 4: OF PASSENGERS AND PLACES
Chapter 5: BURNING OUT
Chapter 6: WINTER
Chapter 7: ESCAPE ATTEMPT
Chapter 8: PRESSURE POINTS
Chapter 9: RELIEF VALVE
Chapter 10: BAREFOOT HERO
Chapter 11: OVERNIGHTING
Chapter 12: MECHANICALS
Chapter 13: ICE CAP BLUES
Chapter 14: URBAN SEAPLANE PILOT
Chapter 15: DEBATES AND DECISIONS
Chapter 16: N90422
Chapter 17: SEAPLANES IN THE MUD
Chapter 18: CHASING RAINBOWS
About the Author

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Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 15 janvier 2014
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780882409993
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0900€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

SEAPLANES ALONG THE INSIDE PASSAGE
The Highs and Lows of a Modern Bush Pilot
GERRY BRUDER
2013 by Gerry Bruder
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bruder, Gerry, 1944- author.
[Northern flights]
Seaplanes along the inside passage : the highs and lows of a modern bush pilot / Gerry Bruder.
pages cm
Originally published under the title Northern Flights, the adventures of an Alaskan bush pilot by Pruett Publishing, Boulder, Colorado, 1988.
ISBN 978-0-88240-958-0 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-0-88240-999-3 (e-book)
1. Bruder, Gerry, 1944- 2. Air pilots-Alaska-Biography. I. Title.
TL540.B7447A3 2014
629.13092-dc23
[B]
2013023868
Published by Alaska Northwest Books
An imprint of

P.O. Box 56118
Portland, Oregon 97238-6118
503-254-5591
www.graphicartsbooks.com
CONTENTS
Preface
CHAPTER 1: N O W OLVES IN THE N EWSROOM
CHAPTER 2: T HE C OCKPIT B ECKONS
CHAPTER 3: A PPRENTICESHIP
CHAPTER 4: O F P ASSENGERS AND P LACES
CHAPTER 5: B URNING O UT
CHAPTER 6: W INTER
CHAPTER 7: E SCAPE A TTEMPT
CHAPTER 8: P RESSURE P OINTS
CHAPTER 9: R ELIEF V ALVE
CHAPTER 10: B AREFOOT H ERO
CHAPTER 11: O VERNIGHTING
CHAPTER 12: M ECHANICALS
CHAPTER 13: I CE C AP B LUES
CHAPTER 14: U RBAN S EAPLANE P ILOT
CHAPTER 15: D EBATES AND D ECISIONS
CHAPTER 16: N 90422
CHAPTER 17: S EAPLANES IN THE M UD
CHAPTER 18: C HASING R AINBOWS
About the Author
PREFACE
The Sonoran Desert might seem a strange place to find a commercial seaplane pilot, but this arid region attracts me for a couple of reasons. I ve spent many dreary winters in coastal Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and like thousands of other weather-weary snowbirds I head south in the slow season to dry out, to shake off the cold. I also come here to get away from flying after a summer in the cockpit.
Get away, people ask? Isn t flying seaplanes an exciting, colorful way to make a living? Yes-with an asterisk. Although technology has modernized some flight operations in the boondocks, we still transport passengers and cargo to remote lakes, hamlets, and fishing lodges, just like the storied bush pilots of yore. We cruise low enough to spot wildlife and view scenery, and we manipulate the controls by hand rather than by computer. Instead of isolating our passengers behind locked cockpit doors, we fraternize with them as in an automobile. Miles from civilization, we make our own decisions when the unexpected arises.
A passenger observing from the right-hand seat as we land and take off and taxi like a boat will often comment, You have the most interesting job in the world!
But here s the asterisk: Just as the desert is a meteorological antithesis of that coastal world up north, the romance of seaplanes has a contrary alter ego. Rain, fog, and gusty winds regularly harass routes and destination. (We hear passengers express envy only in good weather.) Crashes have claimed a score of my fellow pilots-many far more experienced than I at the time. Pressure to complete the mission, long hours, back-to-back flights, missed lunches, mediocre pay, limited career advancement, and troublesome passengers ratchet up the tension. This is the somber side of commercial seaplane flying, its Mr. Hyde personality.
Of course, challenges are inherent, unavoidable ingredients in any adventurous activity. Inevitably, though, the stress drains the spirit and dilutes the romance. Most commercial seaplane pilots move on after a few years, to the airlines or a more lucrative, nonflying profession. Some of us can t seem to stay away. In a fit of disenchantment, I quit just a year after starting my first seaplane job. Nostalgia soon lured me back. The cycle continued. One burnout took me to the New York metropolitan area for four years (two of them in the heart of Manhattan), as if a radical geographical and cultural change could hush the faraway call of the Sirens. Each new life promised a conventional future. But my work would gradually become meaningless drudgery, my surroundings uninspiring monotony. Like an ex-drinker remembering the euphoria but not the hangover, I would start selectively reminiscing: the roar of an engine in morning mist, mountain goats clinging to cliffs along a fjord, the pungent smell of the sea. . . .
Then, relapse.
Eventually, I stopped resisting and surrendered to a career in seaplanes. To handle burnouts, I took up RVing and embarked on long road trips during the slow off-season. One year my wife and I spent three months traveling around the country, exploring national parks and other touristy places. The Sonoran Desert became a favorite destination, both for its beauty and recreation and for its magical ability to refresh the spirit. Just as the low humidity here sharpens the night heavens, a hike in the desert somehow brings clarity to introspection about goals, values, and choices. The desert was the perfect retreat for the soul of a seaplane pilot.
Our escapes to the desert grew longer. Now I m semiretired, a snowbird, a summer-only pilot. A modest but adequate financial situation would let me walk away from the cockpit completely. But gazing at the dust devils dancing among the saguaros, thinking about things, I know that even after more than twenty-four-thousand hours of water flying, I m not yet ready. The Sirens whisper on.

A few notes on terminology. Although I use seaplane and floatplane interchangeably in Seaplanes along the Inside Passage , the words are not synonymous. A seaplane is any aircraft designed to operate from the water, while a floatplane is a seaplane with floats, or pontoons. Flying boat is a seaplane whose hull provides flotation, like the famous four-engine clippers in Pan American s fleet during the 1930s and 40s. Amphibian is an airplane that can operate from both the water and the land; wheels in the floats or the hull are retracted for water phases.
I also use the terms bush pilot and bush flying, even though the Federal Aviation Administration long ago replaced bush with the more dignified, regulated-sounding air taxi. Air services that provide transportation to outlying areas in small aircraft today are indeed more scrutinized and accountable than in earlier decades, and seaplane flying is safer and more efficient. Yet bush in an aviation context is still prominent in the informal public lexicon and realistically evokes the colorful side of seaplanes.
Finally, I support liberal positions on current social issues, including full equality for women in pay and opportunities. The female seaplane pilots I ve worked with were every bit as capable and reliable as their male counterparts. So use of the traditional editorial he in Seaplanes along the Inside Passage should not be construed as male chauvinism; it s simply preferable, in my opinion, to a repetitive, clumsy he/she or the fashionable but sloppy, grammatically incorrect they as a pronoun for a singular subject. I hope readers will recognize the universal, nonsexist intent of he.

For a previous book profiling retired Alaskan bush pilots ( Heroes of the Horizon ), I interviewed twenty-nine subjects. Several told me that burnout had robbed them of all nostalgia for their flying days. I included such comments in the original manuscript, but my editor de1eted them, explaining that readers would frown at an old-timer s flying career ending on a down note.
And over the years some of my magazine articles on seaplane flying have brought criticism for telling too much of the inside story. You re going to scare passengers away and sic the FAA on us, one air service owner lamented, as if public relations should outweigh journalistic candor. Nonetheless, Seaplanes along the Inside Passage neither whitewashes nor embellishes, although in places I use pseudonyms to avoid distressing or embarrassing individuals or their survivors. For most of my flying career I kept a detailed journal of events, destinations, and thoughts, and my goal is to present an accurate, frank description of commercial seaplane flying-the highs and the lows, the glamour and the grind. This is also a memoir about how a greenhorn from Connecticut became a veteran bush pilot, and his ongoing love/hate relationship with the business. Some current and former seaplane pilots will have different impressions and experiences to share, but none can deny that bush flying involves extremes of emotion.
Often on the same flight . . .
Chapter 1
NO WOLVES IN THE NEWSROOM
Eight hundred feet below, gusts whip around the trailers and corrugated tin buildings of the Cape Pole logging camp and fan out across the harbor in black microbursts, foam spraying off the whitecaps. Twenty-five, maybe thirty knots. I grimace in disgust. Two hours earlier the Cape Pole camp manager had radioed our dispatcher in Ketchikan that the wind was only ten to fifteen knots. It s not too bad, he reported. You guys have come out here in worse stuff than this.
Bush residents try to give accurate weather reports. But an observer peering out the window of a warm, dry, camp operations office usually perceives conditions to be more favorable than does a pilot circling overhead within the elements. In addition, when they want transportation, bush residents tend to minimize the weather, aware that once a pilot has flown all the way out from town he ll often grudgingly land in conditions that would have kept him from taking off had

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