Firebirds Hunt Ducks


In the summer of 1974 or 1975, Firebird navigator George Morrow and I went duck hunting on Montague Island in my PA-22. George, being from South Louisiana, was a great lover of duck hunting. When we spotted some in a quiet lagoon, there was a short strip on the beach with some fuel drums located at one end. As it turned out, it was pea gravel, a Cessna 180 with tundra tires had been stuck there a week. Our landing roll was about thirty feet. That's when I knew we were in trouble.

After ten hours of building a landing mat of driftwood that stretched fifty feet in front of each landing gear, I was ready to attempt a takeoff. It was night by then. An inch of frost covered the windscreen. George, and everything we could strip out of the plane, seats, battery, was left behind. Two hundred feet down the beach was a six-foot pine tree I was to use as an abort marker so I wouldn't fall into the creek fifty feet past it. I couldn't see anything on takeoff roll, George told me later that I cut a couple of feet out of the top of the pine. After takeoff, I couldn't see over the mountains between me and Anchorage so I climbed up to 12,000 and saw the city.

George was finally picked up by a Coast Guard chopper almost a week later. His comment was that if they hadn't come that day, he was going to shoot some of those ducks. George had COOL, he said he wasn't worried. He must not have been, he brought back all my stuff, even the battery!

Dan Brooks