The adventures of David "Buck"
A flightsim story
By Bryan Kirk
Buck taxied out to a safe distance from the Hyder dock and
pushed in the throttles while Junior was announcing their
departure on the Unicomm frequency. Taking-off north, the
Maule briefly entered Canadian airspace and flew right over
Stewart while Buck continued climbing and turning to the south.
settled at 3000' and followed Portland Canal at a nice airspeed
of 125 KIAS. Junior seemed to have totally recuperated from
his confrontation with Buck, and was now speaking non-stop.
"That's Raptor Lake",
he said while pointing to a small plateau in the middle of
the Rousseau Range. "Ol' Joe lives there year-round in
a small cabin. I usually fly stuff in for him. He's a hermit,
The young man also explained to Buck
that many cabins of the Forest Service were located deep in
the Tongass National Forest. "But that's for another
day was splendid. Unlimited visibility, a few puffs of clouds
here and there, limited wind. A perfect day in paradise Buck
told himself. It was probably the best way for him to get
things going. He was still somewhat buzzed by his busy day
of yesterday. After all, he had got out of bed in Wakefield
and got to bed in Thorne! But this is what he wanted. He already
had the feeling that things would never be routine around
here. It was a bit much to absorb all at once, but he had
been in places far
far worst then here.
They were approaching Maple Bay when Junior indicated they
would soon be turning in-land, towards the Peabodies. "You
can actually start descending. It's up to you, but you can
fly down the valley at a pretty low altitude."
As usual, Buck elected to play it safe
and entered the valley at 1800'. Once again, he let the scenery
sink in as the Maule cruised in between the tall mountains.
have to admit this has been quite the ride so far", he
finally told Junior.
"And it's just your first
Still cruising at over 120 KIAS, they
rapidly reached Marten Arm and then the Boca de Quadra. "I
have an idea, said Junior. Frenchie packed us some sandwiches.
Why don't we land in a bay and soak in some sun?"
Okay, this kid might not be too bad
"Any good spots around here?"
"Yeah. There's a nice cabin
in Alava Bay. It's very close to here. It's probably locked,
but we can just sit on the dock."
"Okay, sounds like a plan",
Buck said while turning to a heading of 330 degrees and starting
a slow descent. "We should have brought some sun tan
Now more and more familiar with the
Maule, David decided to try a steeper descent. The plane responded
flawlessly, and he quickly spotted the little cabin and beached
the Maule right next to the dock, on the small gravel beach.
"I hope you like chunky
smoked salmon sandwiches, 'cause you'll be eating many of
those around here! It's one of Frenchie's specialties. We
pick-up the smoked salmon in Hyder a few times a week in the
summer months." Not bad at all, Buck told himself while
wiping off some homemade basil dijonaise from his lips.
stayed at the Alava Bay cabin for 45 minutes, and Junior barely
stopped talking. At least, Buck now had a pretty clear picture
of the daily life at Misty's Place.
"My biggest job is the supply
run for Frenchie. I fly the Commander every Thursday morning
to Harvey Field, near Seattle. In the summer, I even fly there
twice a week."
"It's just north of Seattle.
Frenchie's supplier lives not far from there, in Redmond.
And it's a lot easier to get in and out of there than at KSEA
or Bremerton. It's a private GA field, but the Harvey's come
up to Misty's every summer, so they have no prob with us using
their strip. And they serve a damn good steak at the airport
restaurant! Basically, Frenchie's guy comes in with his refrigerated
truck and we stack everything in the plane. I usually leave
Misty's with a full load of fuel, and don't refuel at Harvey's.
Based on the winds, I sometime stop on the way back for just
enough fuel to get me back. Let's just say the Commander is
quite loaded when we leave Harvey!"
"That's sounds like fun."
"It's one of the only flights
Ms. Misty allows me to do. She says I can't offend fresh produce
and sides of beef and pork!"
They finished the sandwiches and decided
it was time to go. Although the weather was almost too perfect,
Junior reminded Buck that things change pretty fast in this
small part of the world. "And never get too comfortable!"
They pushed the Maule out to sea, and
paddled a hundred yards out before boarding and starting the
"Let's fly to the tip of
Prince of Wales Island and then up Klakas Inlet. I would not
mind having a look at the inside passage of the island, especially
with this visibility", explained Buck
"Fine with me. That's some
pretty straight forward flying."
climbed to 3000' and cruised at 110 KIAS, heading for Felice
Strait. "That's Annette Island", pointed out Junior.
"The BFU guys have there home base over at PANT. There
not my best friends, but I have to admit they did quite a
nice job at fixing up the old airport. On your side, it's
Duke Island. And right ahead, it's the little Percy Islands."
They were now flying over the Clarence
Strait, when Buck spotted an incoming Cessna 185 on floats
that was also flying towards the tip of Prince of Wales Island.
"He's probably going to
the Fleet Bay dock. That's where many of the fishing boats
go for parts and supply."
"Let's go take a look",
proposed Buck, while descending in direction of the Cape Chacoin
They followed the C-185, and flew right
over the base. Buck noticed that there was indeed quite a
number of fishing boats in the bay, something he would have
to remember if he ever needed to land in the area.
They then turned due north, in direction
of the inside passage of the island.
"There's a lot of air traffic
around here in the spring and summer. Just over there is Hunter
Bay Cannery. Darn good food there. It's hot spot for fishermen.
Most bush pilots avoid it 'cause they don't want to mingle
with the 'fish heads'. I don't mind them. And they have some
"Sure are a lot of small
islands down there! It's gotta be dangerous to land?"
"Hank has the place all
charted out. You just need to know which ones NOT to land
close to. Over there is Klinkwan Fish Camp. That's the spot
I told you about. Ms. Misty is part owner of the place. We
fly people in and out of there every week. Believe me; you
can do some SERIOUS fishing around here! The runway is a bit
tricky to approach, but once you get the hang of it
flying north, now over Klakas Inlet, Junior proposed that
they climb a bit in order to clear the mountains between the
inlet and the south arm of the Cholmondeley Sound. Buck was
still looking in all directions, trying to "memorize"
as much of the landscape as he could. He was actually happy
to have Junior at his side. Maybe the kid was not strong-minded,
but he had 'local knowledge' and that was priceless. They
were just clearing the last mountain top before reaching the
"South Arm" when Junior pointed at the bottom of
"I guess you can't see it,
but Dan Ridgeway's summer place is down there."
"Dan Ridgeway? THE Dan Ridgeway?",
Buck asked with a puzzled look.
"The Redskins quarterback
and prodigal son of Ketchikan! He had that place built for
him a few years ago. He's not a pilot, but he owns a private
jet that brings him to PAKT, and he his huge boat is in the
harbour. I've been to his "hideaway" of few times.
He gets Frenchie to prepare him some special meals when he
brings a 'friend' over to spend a few days", he explained
while laughing out loud.
Hank's head was deep inside the engine
of THE Beaver when Misty walked in the hangar. Leaning on
the non-functioning Coke machine and wondering if Hank would
be able to work his usual magic on her dad's old plane, she
was contemplating how to approach her old friend.
"So, will it ever fly again?",
she said to break the silence. Hank looked up, and knew right
away she had something on her mind. "I told you it will.
I've basically rebuilt the entire engine. Got some parts arriving
next week, and then we are all set. I want to get it done
before the business picks up in the spring."
"We need to talk Hank. I know you
don't agree with it, but you'll have to get over the fact
that Buck is the new chief pilot. Damn, he's been here for
just a day and I already feel you want to rip the guy's head
The old mechanic rose slowly, but avoided
the stare of his boss. "Why Misty? Just tell me why?
Just from the top of my head, I can think of at least 20 guys
around here who would've been great for it. And that's not
even counting Junior. Last thing we need here is a city slicker!"
"You know better than that. We
have a good business now. I am making good money
are making good money. Any bush pilot can do the routine stuff,
but we need something more for the Fly'n Dine. People skills
have never hurt anyone."
Hank knew better than to lose his cool
with Misty. But then again, he just could not get over her
latest business decision. "Why all the hush then? All
we know is his name, and that he arrived here like a knight
on a white horse ferrying a Scout." Good point thought
Misty. "That's up to him to discuss. Maybe if you actually
took a few seconds to at least say "hi" to him!"
Sensing the discussion would go nowhere,
Misty decide to give it a rest, for now. "Just give the
guy a break Hank. He's here to stay."
"Whatever you say. Anyways, I have
some work to do." And on that, Hank's head plunged back
to its favourite place: the inside of a plane engine.
The Maule had just reached the junction
point of the south and west arm of the Sound Arm when Junior
pointed to the northwest. "Head for that mountain. We'll
follow Rock Creek to reach Polk Inlet. There's a nice place
there, called Goose Bay Cabins. It's owned by my uncle and
aunt. It's dead quiet in the winter, but they live there year
"You want to go say "hi"
to them? I would not mind trying a tight landing."
"Sure. Aunt Mary will be
happy to see me!"
They were still flying pretty high when
Junior pointed ahead. "You see that smoke rising over
there? It's there place. You might want to start descending.
Don't worry, the bay is pretty deep and there's no hidden
"Just sit tight. It's time
to find out what this Maule can REALLY do!"
Junior obeyed without a word, but admired
how Buck was handling the plane. Descending at a steep rate,
Buck banked to his right while extending the flaps. The plane
took a sudden drop while he kept it lined-up with the dock
that was approaching quickly. Junior was holding on tight,
and obviously enjoying himself. Buck touched the water a few
hundreds feet in front of the dock and manoeuvred the plane
to the moorings.
At the same time, a small man ran out
of the main building, shaking his head and waving his hands.
"What the hell was that? You want to kill yourself?!...
Junior? Is that you? Did you just do that hot shot landing?"
Uncle Bob! That's Buck Wilson. He's the new chief pilot at
"You won't stay there long
if you always fly like that! Hank is gonna kill you!"
"Relax Uncle Bob! I can
tell you this guy is one heck of a pilot. He reminds me of
And on that note, Junior launched in
a long explanation of the exploits of his uncle; a retired
Navy pilot and legendary bush pilot now grounded because of
his ever deteriorating vision.
Buck could see that the old man was
not too comfortable with all the compliments.
"This is a nice place you
have here sir", Buck said, interrupting the monologue.
"We've been here for more
than 20 years. We're not as big as all those new places that
are opening up all over the area for the tourists, but we
have some regular patrons that come back every year. As long
as the fishing stays good, people will come. It's that simple!!"
Since Uncle Bob had been outside doing some maintenance on
his truck, the trio sat on the front porch of the main cabin.
After 30 minutes of talking and yet
a few other cups of coffee, Buck and Junior told Uncle Bob
they had to head back to Misty's.
Walking towards the dock, Buck noticed
that the clouds were slowly starting to come in from the north.
"Yup, time to leave Junior. I had a feeling the weather
could not stay this nice for long." They said goodbye
to Uncle Bob, and promised to come back for some home cooking
when Aunt Mary would be back from visiting her sister in Vancouver.
"We are just a few minutes from Misty's anyways Buck.
We won't catch any of the crap that's rollin' in."
For yet another time today, they paddled
a bit to line-up the Maule before starting the engines. "Time
to head back home. Ms. Misty is probably gettin' nervous that
we have been gone that long", noted Junior.
"Really? She doesn't seem
to be the 'nervous' type to me."
"You'd be surprised! Once
you become part of her 'family', she can get pretty maternal!
But by the way she was looking at you this morning; maternal
might not be the good word!!"
Buck wisely decided not to comment on
that, and instead started to plan his take-off while looking
at Junior's topo map. "Winds are pretty calm, I guess
we can just fly due north across Kasaan Bay and then to Misty's."
"Yup. The only major elevation
is Kasaan Mountain, but we'll fly west of there. We'll radio
in once we're 10 miles out to check the weather."
So for the 4th time today, Buck pushed
in the throttles and the Maule quickly lifted off the water.
They climbed to 2500' and, once again, Junior broke the silence.
am really sorry about this morning. It's just that there have
been a lot of things going on recently around here
"I already told you to forget
about it! I'll handle the 'situation' when the time comes.
I'm not here to make enemies
but to fly and earn a decent
living. Like I told you: like or not, I'm here to stay!"
Thorne Bay was already in view, so the
conversation ended on that. Junior was already on the Unicomm
and talking to Ms. Misty. "Winds are calm
There's some pretty bad stuff coming in so land on 12 and
roll her in the hangar."
that. Winds calm, land on runway 12."
In just a few minutes, the Maule was
flying above Misty's Place and Buck gave it a good visual
inspection. All seemed in order, so he started a slow descent
while turning base and lowering the flaps.
"Traffic Motel Motel One,
this is Maule November 126 Motel Golf on final, runway 12."
the Maule slammed hard on the grass runway, Junior wondered
if Buck decided to land a bit "hard" just to piss
off Hank, who was watching from his hangar. He waved at them
and guided them towards it. A few minutes later, Buck and
Junior were stepping down the plane, both with a big smile.
Jumping out of the airplane, Buck gave
a sarcastic wink to Hank and then started walking towards
the lounge, while Junior approached his mentor to debrief
"Well, what happened? He
sure doesn't look rattled to me!"
"We need to talk boss. We
are dealing with one cool jock here
TO BE CONTINUED
And we wish it could be continued, but "That's all there is Folks!"