Walleye Caper: Page 5

"My co-pilot who has perfect vision reports unusual sightings. I'll drop to minimum altitude and take a look." "Wing one, we see many objects on the ice which weren't there previously." "Go ahead, Popeye. What do you see?"

"Wing one we see what appears to be thousands of large fish lying on the ice. Some show signs of life, but most look as if they are frozen solid."

"Roger Popeye, return to base and avoid Schnapps tonight."

Upon landing at Bemidji, the tower advised that a telephone caller wished to speak to me in Shorty's office. After checking our aircraft for damage and finding none, I went to Shorty's phone and, as you suspect. The Comish was the caller.

"Hello Wing one, how was the stress test?" asked the Comish.

"Well Mr. Commissioner, we have demonstrated that the rugged C-130's should be able to sustain the hard knocks expected on the ice cap." ( The conclusion later proved to be faulty.)

"I viewed the action from the West bank of the lake and it was the most phenomenal sight I have ever witnessed," said the Comish. "Within a few seconds of your aircraft dropping on the ice, the lake erupted with a massive spewing of fish the length of the lake. Thanks for saving our fishing season," he added.

"Mr. Commissioner, our business is flying, we're not interested in fish. If you received some benefit from our operations, that is a plus for us and Minnesota. By the way, I take off for home base this afternoon. I expect to be in Greenland tomorrow. We have a long-range commitment there and I need to coordinate with our hosts in Sondrestrom. I hope we meet again soon."

I haven't heard from the Commissioner directly since our exciting test, but I know he was inducted into the Minnesota fisherman's hall of fame. I was invited to the ceremony, but had to decline; we were scheduled to be in Antarctica at the same time. So we bade good-bye to Minnesota and took-off for home base. As we climbed to flight altitude and set a direct course to SYM, I heard a voice on the inter-com which sounded precisely like that of my true Love, Kay. I turned to my co-pilot, Jim, and asked, "did you hear a message from Kay?" "No, but Chicago Center says, climb to flight level 27." But I still heard that familiar voice, and this time with a degree of urgency. It seemed to report an unusual flight control message which said, "this is the last call for dinner."

As the door to my study opened wide, my beautiful wife was standing there with a quizzical look on her Sweet face and asked, "why haven't you come to the dinner table, I've been calling you for some time."

How could I come to dinner when I was still flying at 27,000 feet? "You mean you were on one of your imaginary flights," she asked, "where this time? New Guinea during WWII? Maybe Vietnam, Greenland, Antarctica, Germany, Panama, Greece, Palestine, Norway- all those Exotic places?"

"No my love, none of the above," I replied, "I've been to Minnesota and I've solved a great puzzle; do you want to hear about it?"

"NO! I heard all the flying stories I can take at the Firebird reunion," she replied.

And so Jerry, this ends the tale of the great Walleye caper to which our obnoxious reporter must have referred. I hope you have the facts now and you will be prepared to handle the ever-inquisitive news media as professionally as you have your flying career.

Just a few more bits of information, Jerry: Your appointment lasts until the next Firebird reunion. At that time you may select a replacement from the hundreds of eligible candidates. Two possible and highly qualified people would be Jerry Livingston and Charlie Teed to whom I have sent copies of this letter.

In closing, Jerry, I want you to know why you were selected for this honorable position: At the reunion, You impressed many guests with your skill as a teller of tall tales, especially tales about champion table tennis players. On a rating scale for tall tales you were rated the max- a plus 10 in all categories. Furthermore, it was agreed that you, an expert in telling exciting tales, should also be able to recognize when your friends are telling you tall tales about flying, fishing and other important subjects.

We know you will always be able to tell the difference between fact and fiction.



Good luck and happy landings-







Jerry Livingston




Charlie Teed



Story written by, and courtesy of, former 61st Troop Carrier Squadron Commander, Col. Wilbert "Will" Turk in 1998.

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