"SCARY BUT FUN" Is about my ride as a back-seat passenger in a two-place navy jet (TV-2) when I was on active duty in the navy. I was taking civilian flying lessons at a Bay Area airport and a very low-time student pilot at the time. I was, however, an operational flight simulators operator and link trainer operator for the navy and knew a whole lot about instrument flight.
The flight in the TV-2 from Oakland to Seattle, proved to be pretty scary due to a night-time total communications failure at 44,000 feet, close to our destination, low on fuel, with 30,000 feet of soup between us and the ground.
"SCARY BUT NOT FUN" Kodiak Herring Spotting can be unpredictable. Some days start with beauty excitement and hope, but that can change on a dime. Problems come up quickly when you're not paying attention but also when you are totally focussed.
"HERRING SEINING WOW!" is about my very first experience at setting commercial fishing boats on schools of herring in Prince William Sound Alaska. As a herring spotter, my responsibility to the skippers and crew of the boats I spotted for, was to find the fish amidst the turmoil of dozens of other airplanes doing the same thing and dozens of seine boats all competing for the fish.
It was the spotters job by radioed instructions, to direct the boat to the fish and to direct the deployment of the 900 foot purse seine net to catch those herring, all the time keeping an eye out for other airplanes and trying to make a successful set. It's a pretty crazy and intense adventure, especially when the weather is really bad.
"DANGEROUS ILLUSION" Tells about my near disaster due to a night-time illusion caused by distant airport lights with almost no other lights visible on the ground.
"HOW I ALMOST STARTED WORLD WAR III," I was still in the navy and taking lessons as a student pilot when I almost started World War III. This was in September of 1959. I had never heard of a NOTAM, but soon learned what that was. I was lucky not to have been shot down.
"SPOTTING IN LOWER COOK INLET" Tells a true tale of spotting for the Lower Cook Inlet commercial herring fishery. It was a risky operation for many reasons, severe turbulence, ice flows, low visibility and snow squalls, camping at night with bears, landing on short, slanted, rough, gravelly beaches in gusty cross winds, dealing with rough water, avoiding ash from a nearby erupting volcano and managing fuel with limited access to fuel while flying vast distances looking for schools of herring. There are many other aspects to this interesting account of herring spotting in Lower Cook Inlet.
"SCARY PASSENGERS" Occasionally as an air taxi pilot, you'll have encounters with scary passengers, usually a result of their excessive drinking. One guy I picked up from a remote island in the middle of Prince William Sound had a serious case of the D.T.s and during the flight in stormy weather back to Cordova, grappled with an imaginary beast that was apparently trying to attack him from the baggage compartment of the Cessna 185
"A WINTER DUNKING," addresses the disasterous possibilities that can happen (and did to me) as a result of being coerced into taking a flight against my better judgement when a big howling storm was bearing down on the whole area.
"EAGLE STRIKE," tells the story of my hitting a big bald eagle on a 100 mph descent in a Piper supercub. It hit the right wing at the wing root and the results could have been worse. I was lucky. I did have to spend the night out in the boonies of Prince William Sound and had to have some repair items flown out to me. It was an adventure that I would prefer never to repeat.
"MY FIRST ALASKA FLYING JOB," started from Boeing field in Seattle in 1975. I was giving flight instruction at a local flight school and basically fell into the job due to luck, being at the right place at the right time, and having enough flight time to be qualified. I ended up in Fairbanks 3 days later for the beginning of 33 year Alaska flying career.
"A SUMMER DUNKING" is another embarrassing story, similar to "A winter Dunking." but with a different set of circumstances leading up to my engine failure low over the Copper River in a DeHavilland Beaver with a 55 gallon barrel of jet fuel standing up on the floor behind the pilot's seat. I ended up in the river and am still here to provide insight for other pilots into the dangers of flying fatigued, sick and in a really bad mood.