Dick Hunt's Blog

February 3, 2013

Flying Emergencies In Winter.

Filed under: Current — Tags: — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 9:05 am

Flying Emergencies In Winter.
by Dick Hunt, February 3rd, 2013.

When my younger Brother, Bill Hunt was living alone on a Ranch in eastern Alberta one winter in the early 1950’s, his horse slipped on a patch of ice, fell on Bill’s right leg and did extensive damage from the knee down. He was able to take the saddle off the horse, turn the horse into the feed stack and then crawl to the house and let himself in. His foot swelled to massive size, he had no phone and was totally house bound.

He had a neighbour family, the Cody’s, within line of sight five miles to the south east. When they saw no sign of life around Bill’s house for five days, one of their boys rode his horse over and found Bill in desperate straights. The snow was very deep. The nearest phone was in a hamlet called Cessford, 18 miles away as the crow flies. It was a full days ride away, through the deep snow so the next morning Jack Cody started off early, arriving in time to phone our Father in Calgary.

Dad phoned Chinook Air Services in Calgary early the next morning and had them send a ski equipped plane to pick Bill up and fly him to Calgary. He was taken by ambulance from the Calgary Airport to Holy Cross hospital and the staff found it hard to believe that Bill was still alive, or even human. He hadn’t shaved or had a haircut all winter (it was then early March), he hadn’t had a bath for months and his leg looked so awfully black and huge that they doubted they could save it. He was in the hospital for a long time but Bill had nothing but praise for the excellent care and attention he received. And he was able to leave the hospital with a fully functioning leg. The pilot who flew him to Calgary was a College friend, Eustace Bowhay, a pilot with Chinook Air and he flew him back to the Ranch, letting him take the controls on the way home.

Long before they arrived at the ranch, Bill was fully convinced he would have his own plane and learn to fly as his top priority. He bought a two place, Aeronca Champion aircraft with a 65 H.P. Continental engine and was airborne after less than four hours instruction. He flew it home, built a sturdy hangar facing south east to avoid the worst of the prevailing North Westerly winds and settled down to Ranching again. In the meantime arrangements had been made to hire competent staff to look after the Ranch and the livestock.

I was pressed into service to build a new house for Bill that year as his original house had burned to the ground the previous year and he had been living in a converted garage when he broke his leg. The little plane was great to make trips in a hurry, check the livestock, make sure the fences were intact to control the movement of Bill’s stock and the neighbour’s. Bill soon became aware he really needed a larger plane and traded the two place for a Aeronca Sedan four place which was powered by a 145 H.P. Continental Engine.

He made great use of that one until he finally sold the Ranch and moved to the Home Ranch founded by my Father. He never got a Commercial License but was frequently pressed into service to fly patients to hospital, especially in the winter months. He had Radio Telephone by that time and people from eastern Alberta used to tell Bill their wives were expecting a baby at such and such a time and please be available. And he was always remembering the time he was so in need of a plane when he was in such agony with his broken leg. He was in need for spotting prairie fires too and flying crews to fight them. He was a fine pilot and I loved flying with him. It was with regret that he finally sold the plane as he no longer needed it for business.

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