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Olde but a goodie...


The story is told of an Alaskan bush pilot who contracted with a group of hunters to transport them and their gear to a remote lake. It was agreed that the pilot would return in ten days to fly the hunting party back to civilization. The pilot was as good as his word and ten days later he taxied up to the dock where the hunters had assembled their gear and trophies. Looking over the cargo the pilot announced, “you fellas have a problem here. I know I told you when I dropped you off that this is a one moose airplane. You’ve got two moose here and you’ll have to leave one behind.”

Having gone to the trouble to drag the two moose to the dock the hunters were understandably reluctant to abandon half of their trophies. They tried to reason with the pilot with arguments like, “They’re unusually small moose don’t you think?” and, “they were a matched set. We couldn’t take one without the other.” The pilot stood his ground. He countered, ”in the first place I’ll grant you that some moose are smaller than others but there’s no such thing as a small moose. I’m sorry about the matched set, but you were told that this is a one moose airplane. Now if you’ll just agree on which moose to leave behind, we’ll be on our way.

In an attempt to appeal to the pilot’s avarice the hunters said, ”If it’s a matter of money we’re willing to pay.”  “It’s nothing to do with money.” The pilot said, ”It’s a problem of weight and balance and airplane performance, the length of this lake, the obstructions on the shore, and a number of other things such as density altitude. All of which add up to one thing. Flying out of here with two moose is unsafe and I’m not about to do it at any price. Now if you’ll just pick the lucky moose that’s going with us we’ll get it into the airplane and be off.”

Not to be dissuaded, the hunters voiced the ultimate argument. “Oh all right. If you don’t think you can do it we’ll have to agree, but your friend Joe flew us out of this very spot last year with two moose that were bigger than these.” Knowing that Joe flew the same kind of airplane the pilot reconsidered his decision. “Joe flew you out of this lake last year?” Yep.” ”with two moose?” “that’s right and they were lots bigger than these scrawny things.” The pilot thought for a moment. “Load em up”, he said, “we’ll give it a try.”

 The floats were nearly under water as they staggered away from the dock. The pilot taxied the airplane to the downwind end of the lake and circled at full throttle, going a little faster with each turn. At last he headed for the far end of the lake and, at the last possible moment, the airplane crawled into the air. They flew no more than a foot or so above the water, in what I guess you would call lake effect, but the airplane didn’t climb. Presently the lake ended and they flew in lake shore effect until the airplane crashed into some low scrub growth near the tree line.

Everyone survived with minor injuries, but the pilot was knocked unconscious in the crash. He was attended by one of the hunters. As he came to, and, as so often is the case, he asked “where are we?” The hunter looked toward the tree line and then back to the lake. ”I’m not absolutely sure,” he said, “but it looks as if you got us about a Quarter mile further than Joe did last year.”