Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Rudy Repairs Beaver C-GJJG's Float!

"The wind in the wires, made a tattle-tale sound, as the waves broke over the railings.....And every man knew, as the Captain did, too, t'was the witch of November come stealing..............."! Gordon Lightfoot's masterful piece about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald played on the radio as I gazed out the window towards the Float Base in the late evening. The irony was not lost on me as the wind had picked up from the west-southwest, and was now starting to howl. The waves were crashing over the fixed crib dock, and the 2 airplanes (Cessna 180 CF-LDW and Beaver C-GJJG) and floating docks undulated wildly. "Wind" vs. airplanes is bad enough, but "wind and water" vs. airplanes can be catastrophic. It would be a long night, checking the airplanes and the mooring ropes periodically.

It was summer, 1987, and we had been receiving some awful thunderstorms. They would build southwest of Lake Winnipeg over the prairie, churn across Lake Winnipeg picking up more moisture and intensity, and head inland, sometimes flattening anything in their paths. The evening in question, they came howling through the Little Grand Rapids area like the "Tasmanian Devil" on "earthquake pills". The best we could do was make sure the airplanes were secure, and keep the floats pumped, and get wet. We monitored the planes until 2 AM, then the wind backed-off somewhat, and we retired for some needed shut-eye. Murphy's Law was at work, though, and at 5 AM, the storms attacked us again like a "marauding horde of Mongols". Awakened, we headed back down to the docks on our meager 3 hours of sleep. 2 hours of battling, and the storms finally broke. Weary and soaked, we surveyed the airplanes. Both were still upright and floating, but JJG had crumpled her float against the dock. "Shit!" Still, better than sitting at the bottom of Family Lake.

The airplane remained afloat, but the rear compartment on the left side was badly damaged. I guess I would get an unscheduled trip to Riverton, as our Contract Maintenance was done by Rudy Eastman, a Lake Winnipeg fisherman and long-time "Bush Mechanic". The old Bush Mechanics had many skills that you don't see in the industry today. Anyways, I called Rudy and he said to bring the aircraft to his hoist on the Icelandic River in Riverton, Manitoba. We shoved a rag in the damaged float, pumped it out quick, and I was airborne!

I made Riverton in about 40 min., and taxied into the boat launch as Rudy prepared his hoist. JJG would come out of the water for this repair. We hooked her up, and lifted her out. Rudy went right to work!

Riverton, Manitoba

Rudy, and his son, Michael "Crowbait" Eastman, work on JJG!

I pose beside JJG's damaged float. Crap, I was uglier then than I am today!

JJG's damaged float up close.

Hot, sunny day, float repair accessories.......

Rudy has the damage cut away, just like a surgeon........

Repair under way........

Fine work!

Just about done! Then, evening descended on us, and it was time to call it a day. "Crowbait" ran to the "Vendor" for a 24-pack of "liquid intellect". We enjoyed the evening, the water, and some other friends joined us, and it turned into a "riverside party"!

The party continues, as JJG and my old 1970 Dodge look on, as a boat cruises down the river in the background. There is just something about "being by the water".............

The next morning, Rudy finishes off the repair. I was in town procuring a load to fly north with. Within a couple of hours, I was back at home base, unloaded, and airborne again, winging some fishermen out to a cabin in the bush.....Just another memory from the "jumbled volumes" of memories from my "mental library".........

Till next time,


(PS - My good friend Wayne Letkeman, General Manager of Thunderbird Lodge And Outposts sent me an e-mail and a photo today, and here they are:)

To: otterflogger@yahoo.com
Subject: Photo
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 10:40:32 -0500

Saw your photo of shadow image in your website. Thought you might like
to see the attached photo. Pilots will often see such images but
passengers seldom do. The photo was taken from my aircraft by Mr. Bill
Seniuk. The photo was taken over Headleaf lake with a layer of fog

Wayne Letkeman
General Manager
Thunderbird Lodge & Outposts Ltd.
P.O. Box 129
Lac du Bonnet, MB R0E 1A0
Ph. 1-204-345-0188
Fax 1-204-345-0189

Email- tbird@lincsat.com
Web - www.thunderbirdlodge.com

Fine photo of Cessna 180 C-FSAE shadow outlined by a rainbow!

Thanks for the photo, Wayne!

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