Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
Later in 1958—the last day of moose season, in fact—Eugene P. “Bud” Graves and I were crammed into the little Chief for a final shot at a moose hunt. We were flying upstream, again along the Yentna River, cruising at a comfortable two hundred feet, when the engine—without a burble or a hiccup—became silent as a tomb. The little power plant had abandoned its assigned task without so much as a cough or a backfire. Still, warning or no, the silence was deafening . . . . The two hundred feet of altitude now didn’t seem as comfortable as it had a few moments earlier, and I was looking all over the place for a suitable spot to park the stricken little thing. At the same time, I was scanning across the meager panel and searching my addled brain for a possible reason for this outrageous behavior on the part of an otherwise stalwart and dependable little flying machine . . . .
I thought for a moment that I might glide to a little dab of a sandbar dead ahead of us, but we were gliding downwind and I knew almost instantly that we wouldn’t remain in the air long enough to make that spot.
Dead ahead, too, were two large spruce trees, conspicuous in a world of stunted willows. The thought flashed through my head that I could fly between the two and wipe both wings off. That should slow us down a bit. I instantly pitched out that idea, since I’d rather be flying a silent and powerless airplane than riding a wingless arrow. I thought, too, that I should maybe use the primer, since it appeared to be a case of fuel exhaustion for some unknown reason. I passed that idea up, too, though years later I would wonder whether I should have tried that . . . .
I decided that it might be better to make the emergency landing into the wind rather than with it, and, with the help of the Aeronca’s incredible wing span, had enough time to make the shallowest of turns to swing us around 180 degrees for the landing. Throughout that turn, my mind was running through the lessons I had learned about such times. Like the one that cautions against these near-the-ground turns, for instance.
I settled the little yellow Chief into the eight-foot willows. The forward movement couldn’t have been more than two feet! The landing gears broke apart and slammed straight up on either side against the doors, effectively locking us both inside the tiny cabin. The Ruger Blackhawk .357 Magnum I had laid atop the baggage compartment lid behind me want sailing past my left ear and right on out through the plexiglass side window. Bud’s left knee broke off the ignition key with the jolt. And that was the end of it. Except for the terribly sad sound of dry willow leaves settling down across the huge expanse of the little Chief’s motionless wings. I would make my last bank payment against that little ship the following Monday. The airplane wasn’t insured, either, so you know where that left me: like a cowboy without a horse, I was walking again.
|Product dimensions:||8.34(w) x 5.68(h) x 0.35(d)|
About the Author
Mort Mason has written about Alaska hunting, sport fishing, and backcountry flying for more than twenty-five years. Mason flew for 18,000 plus hours in the formidable and unforgiving outback of the Alaska bush country. He and his wife, Peggy, started the successful periodical Alaska Outdoors. His first book, Flying the Alaska Wild, has become a favorite among pilots and non-pilots alike. Although he is semiretired, Mason occasionally tows banners along the golden beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.