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When Resilience Mattered, But Had No Name

The User's Profile George Galpin December 24, 2022
17
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It was early January 1967, and we were trying to make our way to Watson Lake in the Yukon so I could catch the Canadian Pacific DC-6 flight back to Vancouver. This was the end of a 2-week Christmas wolf hunt and introduction to winter trapping. The flight from Dease Lake about 150 miles to the south had been uneventful under dull grey skies with an overcast layer a few thousand feet up and the usual great visibility. But 10 miles out, we encountered a snowstorm and clouds below 500 feet.

Dal looked it over and turned the Super Cub into the thick of it. “We’ll try the back door”. The visibility dropped to less than a half mile in the snow, about 15 seconds at our speed, and we had dropped down to maybe 300 feet over the treetops. A few minutes went by, just trees and scrub brush passing below, and then suddenly a road and a handful of log cabins. “That’s our alternate!” Dal yelled over his left shoulder. Nothing but trees and scrub brush again for two more minutes, then Dal made a left turn of almost 90 degrees and just a few seconds later the side of a ridge loomed out of the snow immediately off our right-wing tip. Another minute, then about 10 degrees to the right.

We passed over a road and a couple of buildings and a car below. Another small course correction, then more rooftops and a few more lights.

Dal backed off on the power slightly, pulled some flaps and I heard him throw the lever for the carburetor heat as he eased the nose down. We were on final approach. Somebody’s rooftop passed about 50 feet below our skis, some willow bush and then all white as the nose came up. A few seconds later the skis settled into the snow on Y lake in the middle of town. I was going to make my flight if the weather improved enough for the DC-6 to land at the airport.

Dal

If you fly a plane, don’t try something like this. You will likely end up dead. But Dal was not an ordinary pilot. He was one of Canada’s great pioneer bush pilots and had flown almost everything used as a bush plane from the 1920’s on, even training U.S.

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Top Comment

What A Fantastic Read!
George - great writing, great stories and what a life!
You were drawn to adventure and took it.
I didn’t know it then, but...
Anonymous Author by cmartenson
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