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Posts Tagged ‘aviation gas’

To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

A barreling truck heading into our landing path
forced Donny to pull the plane up into the thick white soup blanketing
the mountain sides through which we traveled. Our visibility could be
measured in feet. I knew we were about to crash and asked God to kill us
off instantly. I wasn’t in the mood to suffer broken bones and in and
out of consciousness for several days, wolves and bears until somebody
found us. The dying didn’t scare me. The suffering did.

Donny found a clearing against a mountain side. He circled us there parallel
to the slope just above the tree tops waiting for the sky to clear.
Normally I would have become sick with the tight continuous circling,
but I suppose knowing there were no other options, my challenged vertigo
cooperated. We circled for some time before the mountain passage
cleared enough for us to rise into scattered cloud cover. We could
finally see the terrain around and below us. But the Al-Can highway was
nowhere in sight.

“Where do you think the road is? Donny asked —
the first and only time he would seek my help on our journey.

“I think it’s that way,” pointing behind me.

“I think it’s that way,” Donny said pointing in the opposite direction. “We’ll go your way.”

He unfolded a topographical map, knowing our approximate location
somewhere south of Fort Nelson (see April 20 entry for map). We studied
the map and the terrain below us matching creeks, hills, a cabin here or
there and finally found our location. We were once again, however, left
with a near empty gas tank.

When we landed at Fort Nelson with
minutes left of flying time in the gas tank, I told Donny, “I think I’m
now loving the smell of Av (aviation) gas.”

(to be contintued) copyright Tamara Ann Burgh all rights reserved

Al Can highway below

Somewhere along our journey. Possibly the Al Can highway below.

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British Columbia Map

British Columbia Map

To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

Our trip was rather uneventful the next day or two
until we entered British Columbia. We gassed up the plane in Dawson Creek under a clear blue sky. We were in the Rockies again and it smelled like home. I grew up in Illinois and Colorado — Rifle, CO being my birthplace. My
father’s work moved us many times between the two states, so I am both a mid-westerner and mountain girl. My most formative years were in Colorado, consequently I feel the Rockies to be my home base. I would be happy in a home anywhere between Santa Fe New Mexico and Anchorage
Alaska. I love the smell of the Rockies.

Aviation gas, however, has a disturbing smell. It reminds me of commuter bus fumes. Commuter bus fumes remind me of some lonely Saturdays in Junior High school. I
had a friend, an acquaintance actually, in Jr. High. Her mother called my mother one day to ask if I would like to take skiing lessons with her daughter. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! My father found me some used blue wooden skis, poles and lace boots — the laces were actually
black rubber bands that looped around the silver latches.

Every Saturday for some six weeks mother or dad drove me to a ski shop in west suburban Denver, gave me a sack lunch and $5 (lift tickets were $3.50/day back then!) and watched me haul my load through the bus fumes and icy air to board a greyhound bus that would take me to Loveland
Basin ski area. The first lesson was horrible but I knew, with perseverance, I could and would be a competent skier. My “friend” was not so determined. I didn’t see her again after that first trip.

From then on, my parents would drop me off among the clouds of exhaust
fumes and I would spend a lonely day swallowed up in the giant bus seats, a lesson
with a group of young strangers, alone with a sack lunch and an
afternoon up and down the slopes by myself. But I did become a competent
skier. The more I progressed the more enjoyable it became. It was a point of
pride for me to be the only skier in the family. Eventually my two
brothers and one sister learned to ski. We had many enjoyable and
memorable Saturdays on the slopes together. This experience probably
formed a spirit in me that said, alone or no, I can do this — and
“going for it” may not only benefit me, it might benefit others too.

I might have been the brave one in Jr. High, but when I first smelled
the aviation gas, I was transported back to the snow packed parking lot
where buses spewed their acrid fumes. The smell made me feel pangs of
loneliness.

“I don’t like the smell of av gas,” I told Donny who was up a ladder
with a hose filling the airplane tanks with gas.

“I love the smell,” he said. “It keeps me in the air.”

(To be continued) copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, all rights reserved

Loveland Ski Area

Loveland Ski Area

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