Todd said, “Wanna go for a ride?”

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.

Alaska Traveler Chatter

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I grew up flying with my dad in his ages-old tail-dragging Taylorcraft. Gas gauge gave up the ghost, so while he scouted for one, he stuck a wad of aluminum foil on one end of a piece of coat-hanger, and stuck the other end into a nice chunk of cork. Gas cap into his briefcase. Floating Gauge into the tank, and off we’d go adventuring for the day. It was my job to let him know when the gauge disappeared, because we’d need a place to land and tip in some fuel. Mother disliked flying, and according to family legend, I was a handful, so our adventuring days were good for all. Well, maybe all but the poor Judges’ clerks who were occasionally handed briefs smelling suspiciously of gas! Oh, if the weather looked like rain, we’d rent a Cessna 150, even after a new gauge was found, because the T-Craft leaked like a sieve!

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