BUSH FLYING IN OLD ALASKA

Here is a fine story written by a local guy in answer to my usual request of longtime Alaskans for a true anecdote about Alaska.

(They usually agree happily, but then don't send anything.) He dropped it by this afternoon. So, in his own words, our friend, who was adamant about anonymity, tells us:

Bob and I land along the west shore of the lake. The east side is covered with ice cakes.

We tie the plane to a bush as there are no trees, and head out.

When we return, the wind is up. We have to take off toward the mountain.

We are 50 feet in the air when the wind changes direction. The plane stalls, falls like a stone into the lake, the floats break, and we are upside down.

We sit on the floats and discuss our situation. Then open our parkas to reduce drag, and swim ashore. It's farther than it appears.

We squeeze water from our parkas, then collect many little dry sticks from the bushes and build a tiny fire. We stand by the fire and talk. Two grizzly bears appear across the lake digging for squirrels. They leave.

A beaver swimming down the lake with a bushy branch dives under the ice to his lodge. The wind is stronger. We talk about the beaver. Beaver meat is delicious.

A plane comes over high then descends steeply and lands.

That was in 1954.

I found the lake on Google maps several days ago. I could see where we stood by our little fire and talked.

(When asked, he told me the lake did not have a name then or now.) 

Dee: So there you have it. A simple story; you'll notice no signs of panic, although in 1954, radio communication was iffy even if the plane had not sunk. Memorable, yes, but not the highlight of his life. I do wish he had let me use his name.


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