Sunday, April 23, 2006


"Bob" in a "Barrel".........

Pilots and Aircraft Engineers are an "ingenious" bunch, and there are thousands of stories about "exploits" that have taken place over the years. The early situation in "bush" aviation in Canada was that there was no "blueprint" for how to do anything, whether it be landing a floatplane on grass, landing floats on snow, or launching off of a dolly, etc.. A lot of the practices still in use today came from some "fertile" minds years ago, who had an idea, and refined it through trial and error. Well, the other day I posted a video entitled Steve's Video Of The Day: Another "Dolly" Takeoff!, and there was a comment left on my Blog. Yesterday you met Bob Ostrom, who flew the "Canadian bush" for a number of years. He was the author of the comment. Well, I read it twice, and "laughed my ass" off. The mental picture I received after reading the comment was astounding. I could picture myself in the Econoline, the "barrel", or the airplane, depending at what stage of my career I was at. Here is his comment from my other Post. Watch the video again, then come back and read what Bob has to say.


I don't want to be sitting in the back of that truck if something goes wrong.
I thought that the way we used to do it when I worked for Superior Airways in Thunder Bay Ont. was thrilling enough. We had a set of dollies (2 separate ones, each with a tail wheel and automatic brakes that came on once the weight was off) that we used for Beavers, Otters, and Beech 18's. The aircraft was hoisted up, the dollies put under each pontoon, and a stinger bar attached to the a/c tail wheel fitting.

We had an old Ford econoline van, (flat front) that had a 45 gallon barrel attached to the front bumper. The guy with the short straw got to stand in the barrel and hang onto the stinger and steer the a/c until rudder control was established. It was very important that the van driver accelerated at the same rate as the a/c or the barrel man got speared or stretched arms.

Usually things went okay, but I remember one incident (I was in the barrel) when we were launching an Otter and the pilot lifted the right hand pontoon up before the left one. The brake came on, the right dollie started going left at about the same time as the left pontoon cleared its dollie, and the dollies collided. Both of them cartwheeled end-over-end down the runway creating gouges in the surface and finally destroying a couple of runway lights before coming to rest on the grass. It cost our company many loonies to repair the damage done. I had a close up view of all the action and was praying that the van driver would keep his cool. Otter, dollies, and both of us in or in front of the van survived to tell about it. By the way, the Otter pilot was Pete Taylor, originally from BC, who was married to the daughter of the company owner, Roberta Wieben. Any relation?
Keep up the good work. This old bush rat checks your blog every day.

Bob Ostrom
Corpus Christi TX

Well, I tell you, what a story. "Green" pilots can sure get a quick education in this business. Tremendous tale, and there are many others. Great lifetime memory, to be able to sit back and reflect 30 years down the road and remember the incident vividly, as if it had just happened yesterday. Keep them coming, Bob.......

(the Ford Econoline van with the 45 gallon drum attached to the front should have gone to the "Bush Flying Hall of Fame"........)

After the completion of another eventful day "flogging the bush", the stalwart "Canadian Bush Pilot" mounted up, and went home.............. Posted by Picasa

My internet service has been down for a couple of days and I was really surprised when I ha a chance to check your site today. It was all about Bob. Thanks much for sharing my memories. Also thenk you for putting my web site link on your site. As my memory gets jogged by your comments, I will forward more old war stories to you.
Bob, thanks for sharing your memories with "us". Great stuff! Look forward to more "war" stories as they come to mind.........


Post a Comment

<< Home