Fright Flight to Anchorage

The following is a letter sent to the FAA and NTSB following an aircraft incident. The letter is reprinted in original form and context. It is hoped by reading this letter, you may learn from others adventures.

It was pretty smooth flying and, except for the ice that seemed to be forming here and there, especially on the windshield, there wasn’t much to see. I will say that I handled the controls quite easily for a pilot with only 6 hours. My computer and pencils fell out of my pocket once in awhile but these phenomena occur sometimes I am told. I don’t expect you to believe this, but my pocket watch was standing straight up on its chain. That was pretty funny and asked my friend to look but he just kept staring straight ahead with a glassy look in his eyes and I figured that he was afraid of heights like all non-pilots are. By the way something was wrong with the altimeter, it kept winding and unwinding all the time.

Finally, I decided we had flown long enough to be where we were going, since I had worked it out on the computer. I am a real whiz at that computer but something must have gone wrong with it since when I came down out of the clouds to look for the airport there wasn’t anything there except mountains.

Those weather people sure had it wrong, too. The conditions were real marginal with a ceiling of about 100 feet. You just can’t trust anyone in this business except yourself, right. Why there was even thunder storms going on with the occasional bolt of lightning. I decided that my passenger should see how beautiful it was and how the lightning turned the fog all yellow, but I guess he was asleep, having gotten over his fear of heights, and I didn’t want to wake him up.

Any way just then an emergency occurred because the engine quit. It really wasn’t such a big deal and I wasn’t worried since I had just read the manual and I knew right where the ignition switch was. I fired up the other engine and we kept right on going. This business of having two engines is a real safety factor. If one quits the other is right there ready to go. Maybe all airplanes should have two engines. You might look into this.

As pilot in command, I take my responsibilities very seriously. It was apparent that I would have to go lower and keep a sharp eye in such bad weather. I was glad my passenger was asleep because it was pretty dark under the clouds and if it hadn’t of been for the lightning flashes it would have been pretty hard to navigate. Also, it was hard to read the road signs through the ice on the windshield. Several cars ran off the road when we passed and you can see what they mean when they say flying is safer then driving.

To make a long story short, I finally spotted an airport that I knew right away was pretty close to Anchorage and, since we were late already for cocktails and dinner I decided to land there.

It was an Air Force base so I knew it had plenty of runways and I could see a lot of colored lights flashing in the tower so I knew we were welcome. Someone told me that you could always talk to these military people on the emergency channel so I tried, but you wouldn’t believe the language that I heard. Somebody should straighten out these people and I and I would like to complain, as a taxpayer. Evidently they were expecting someone to come in and land because they kept talking about some stupid son-of-a-***** up in that fog. I wanted to be helpful so I landed on the ramp to be out of the way in case that other fellow needed the runway.

A lot of people came running out at us waving at us. It was pretty evident they had never seen an Aztec C before. One fellow, some General with a pretty nasty temper, was real mad about something. I tried to explain to him in a reasonable manner that I didn’t think the tower operator should be swearing at the guy up there, but his face was so red that I think he must have a drinking problem

Well, that’s about all. I caught a ride back home because the weather really got bad, but my neighbor stayed at the hospital there. He can’t make a statement yet because he’s still not awake. Poor fellow, he must have the flu, or something.

Let me know if you need anything else, and please send my new license airmail, special delivery.

Very truly yours,

Joe Pilot