Monday, December 06, 2004


Tales from the Cockpit-Sasaginnigak Lake Lodge

Hey folks, me again. Another story just came to mind, so bear with me.

I live in an area where a lot of the geography is only accessible by air, so air transport to some people is like city people getting in a taxi. Anyway, the two stars of the story are Lloyd Leveque and Rhoda Pascal, an aboriginal couple from the local Little Grand Rapids Indian Reserve, 65 miles from our base. Lloyd, a friend of mine, is the male in the couple, and he has a trapper's cabin at Shining Falls, at the south end of Family Lake, and the headwaters of the Pigeon River. Anyways, here is how I remember the tale.

It was the morning of May 16, just after the ice had departed the more southerly lakes. It was a morning of shit weather and wind, not untypical for the time of year, and the fact we were operating off Lake Winnipeg, from a base at Pine Dock. My friend and fellow pilot, Jim Johnson, had picked up Lloyd and Rhoda at Sophie's, a local motel, restaurant, and watering hole. They wanted a Cessna 185 trip to Shining Falls. Needless to say, the trip was delayed, so Lloyd and Rhoda exercised their lips and elbows all day at the bar. Five flights were cancelled that morning, as the weather stayed poor. There were also 8 guests booked into Sasaginnigak Lake Lodge at noon, the Sullivan group.

As the weather improved slightly, and Lloyd and Rhoda deteriorated rapidly, we decided to tempt the elements. I would load 8 people ( Sullivan group ) into the Otter with gear, and go straight to Sasaginnigak and back. Jim would take Lloyd and Rhoda with their gear and excess gear for Sasaginnigak Lodge, go to Sasaginnigak, then Shining Falls, then back to base. As there was excess gear, Jim decided to use the Beaver.

Finally, both aircraft were loaded. Jim was in the office so I loaded Lloyd into the right front seat of the Beaver, and Rhoda behind him. I then said, "See you, Lloyd, have a good flight!" I then closed the doors and proceeded to the Otter. I told the Sullivan group I would be taking all 8 of them, and for some reason they all seemed tremendously relieved. As I loaded them in the Otter, a couple of them milled around me, and finally one guy asked, "Where is Lloyd going?" "He has a trapper cabin at a place called Shining Falls", I replied. "Oh, I see", the gentleman said. I told them their gear in the Beaver would be dropped at Sasaginnigak before Lloyd went to Shining Falls. They stared at me in disbelief! "Has Lloyd worked for your outfit for a long time?" an older gentleman queried. "No", I said, "his camp is private and has nothing to do with our operation", as partial bewilderment started to invade me. "Does he fly here often?" was the gentleman's next question. "Yes, numerous times during spring and summer", I replied. "In that kind of shape?" the gentleman raised his voice. "Yes, Lloyd is usually half in the goose by this time of day", I said, wondering what this guy's problem was. "Doesn't he ever crash?" the gentleman said, his voice up an octave and quavering. "What?" I said,a stupid look on my face as this guy had totally lost me. "Lloyd, doesn't he ever crash?" the man wanted to know. I'd had enough! "What the HELL are you talking about?" I asked the gentleman. "Lloyd flying an airplane in that condition!" he said. Now I clued in and burst into laughter! I said, "My buddy, Jim, the other pilot, is flying the plane and dropping Lloyd off. He is in the office. Lloyd and Rhoda are just waiting for him." "Good Lord!" the gentleman said, "I was really beginning to wonder." At this point in time, sheepishness had invaded his very being to the point that I thought I could see wool stubble growing on his chin. He climbed the ladder into the Otter with his slice of humble pie and I closed the door, shaking my head and grinning. Some people sure can have a misconceived perception of normal, everyday events, as when I said good-bye to Lloyd and closed the door, the group I was transporting thought Lloyd was the pilot.

Anyway, we made it to Sasaginnigak, although we should have been wearing hard hats, it was so rough. Jim managed to find Shining Falls and drop off Lloyd and Rhoda. We both returned to base, and at the end of the day, we had some great laughs about some people's misperceptions, and downed some great Canadian Whisky!

The Sullivan Group always preferred the Otter, especially if Lloyd was flying the Beaver.....!! Posted by Hello

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