MY FIRST JOB WAS working for an air taxi, Cook Inlet Aviation in Seldovia in 1965, the summer I was thirteen. I was unquestionably the worst employee Bob Gruber ever had, but since my mother was his bookkeeper-slash-ground support, he couldn’t fire me.
Which was why I liked the idea of buying a house in the flight path of one of the busiest sea plane bases in the world. It feels like home to be working in the yard and look up to see Beavers and Cessnas and Super Cubs, all on floats and all on a short final into Lake Hood.
There are so many of them, and so many of them bearing the Rust’s Flying Service logo, that I got curious. I called up my friend, former pilot and fellow author Megan Mallory Rust, and said, “Where are all those planes going all the time?” and she told me to call her brother Todd, who runs the business nowadays.
Todd said, “Wanna go for a ride?”
Of course I did. I very nearly always do.
So one sunny Sunday morning in June, I climbed into the cherriest Beaver I’d ever set foot in, November 712 Tango Sierra, a dark teal fading to a darker blue paint job on the exterior and an interior that looked like it had just that moment rolled off the factory floor.
“So, you like flying Beavers?” I said to the pilot, a man named Hans Munich. I asked because Alaskan pilots seem to love Beavers almost as much as they love Super Cubs. “I like flying this one,” he said, and grinned. “It’s mine.” He looked too young to have thirteen years’ flying time under his belt, too young to have spent the last four of them flying out of Lake Hood for Rust’s, and entirely too young to have rebuilt the DeHaviland Beaver that was holding my behind seven hundred and fifty feet up in the air at the moment.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.