Saturday, January 14, 2012
Fly Fishing: Fly Friday (Air Travel)
The first time 4 of us hired a float plane to the headwaters of the Lady Evelyn River in Ontario. The flight in with square end canoes lashed to the struts proved exciting and uneventful unless you count the two big black bears and several moose the accommodating pilot took time to buzz so we could get a better look; exceeded only by the wonderful view of the wildest, emptiest country any of us had experienced.
Pointing to the map, a wide spot in the river, the pilot said, "good luck and I'll see ya downriver in 10 days or so." The appointed 10th day and many fat brook trout later we dodged our way down a a long rapid, looked around, studied the map again and then again, looked at each other, shrugged, this indeed was the spot, but...As Alvie, a decorated WWII fighter pilot put it, "No friggin' way! Might get in but he sure as hell ain't haulin' our asses out!
Doubt spread quickly to panic somehow this could not be the spot after all, but just then the unmistakeable drone of a plane. Buzzing the landing spot twice the plane neatly just at the bottom of the whitewater and soon taxied to shore...Hopping out on a pontoon the pilot said, "See yas made it in one piece, how's the fishin'? Gonna be mite tight but I seen tighter, best make two trips, let's get one boat tied up and we'll give er' a go, eh?" There may have been more to the speech but those are the high points, at least all I remember...can't say what the others heard or said.
Heart a pounding and mouth way beyond too dry for spit, I took a death grip whatever was handy and watched out the window in horror as the pilot gunned the plane first up into the rapids, then spun us around and...Well, with trees hoving into view way too fast for my taste, thinking, no knowing for certain, we were goners but...suddenly I felt the plane lift, the nose came up sharply, all sky ahead, then we banked crazily to the left and while can't swear we came out upside down it sure seemed like it...And that was that...No harm, no foul as they say...And I didn't even wet myself, imagine!
Not long after take-off in a similar float plane on our way to a lake in Quebec, suddenly the pilot turned to me and said something in French Canadian I did not understand a word of but did not like the sound of one bit either...That was when the engine oil splattered the windshield and I about lost my you know what...maybe I did but too scared to realize.
For the uninitiated sitting up front (I always got the co-pilot seat cause I was bigger), in level flight you can't see anything but sky no idea what's ahead and below; out the side windows as far the eye could see nothing but beaver bogs, countless really small lakes, a big river mostly whitewater and countless smaller streams no way a plane could land any. Oh s...t! That was when pilot switched shut the engine off...double OH S...T!
Meantime he's on the radio yakking way too loud and rapidly I'm thinkin but...With the engine shut down the nose of the plane drops and...praise Jesus, praise the Lord, praise the airplane gods, praise any and every soul on the planet, behold a big lake, no make that a BEHOLD ONE BIG, BEAUTIFUL LAKE and to make a harrowing tale short, the pilot, praise him too, by starting and stopping the engine managed in due time and without further incident to set us down and oh so softly at that...trust me, without doubt the wonderfulest feeling ever.
Airline travel started off as more idyllic sojourns than anything harrowing or upsetting but course over time all that changed and not as we all know for the good of the flightee...stay tuned for a few highlights will be coming soon...over and out...Chuck