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Elmendorf tower said something large just fell off your airplane
September 21, 2012 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Freight Dogs are cargo pilots, often flying under less-than-ideal conditions. An audio interview with the author Michael Walker.
posted by exogenous (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was a "freight puppy" for a little while. Flying stripped out Cherokee-6s filled with photos to be developed (this was the 80's) and bank checks up and down the California coast. There's something about flying alone at night with just the stars and the occasional controller voice for company that I miss very much.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 12:05 PM on September 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


That article rules. Thanks!
posted by resurrexit at 12:14 PM on September 21, 2012


exogenous, if you can pop in the URL for the second link, I'll edit the post to fix it (it's currently broken, bad copy/paste)
posted by mathowie at 12:18 PM on September 21, 2012


The audio interview link is broken. :-(

Another great book on this subject is The Map of My Dead Pilots by Colleen Mondor. It's mainly about Alaskan pilots, but they carry some crazy cargo -- sled dogs and dead bodies come to mind.
posted by alicat at 12:19 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice article, but it ends just when I expected to get to the meat of the matter. Is there more?
posted by hat_eater at 12:38 PM on September 21, 2012


Thanks, mod(s) for fixing the link to the interview.

On one of the Uncontrolled Airspace podcasts they interview a pilot who transported a dead body in a Cessna 172. Unlike a Cherokee Six there is no room in the back for a corpse so the body was put in the front seat. Anyway it was a dark and stormy night and the

Also, I guess with modern banking there isn't really a need to fly checks around overnight anymore, which removes a lot of entry-level pilot jobs.
posted by exogenous at 12:42 PM on September 21, 2012


...I mean, besides other very interesting posts on this blog...
posted by hat_eater at 12:43 PM on September 21, 2012


hat_eater: "Nice article, but it ends just when I expected to get to the meat of the matter. Is there more?"

Dang, that didn't occur to me. The original source is no longer online but I found the complete article here. It continues with the experience of the author flying a simulator.
posted by exogenous at 12:48 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks! I didn't really expect there'll be more.
posted by hat_eater at 12:55 PM on September 21, 2012


Anyway it was a dark and stormy night and the

The what?? The WHAT????
posted by 40 Watt at 1:05 PM on September 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Aw geez I need to get off the computer today - sorry everyone!

It was a dark and stormy night and he was flying a body for a funeral home. The plane was a little Cesna 172 so there was no room in the back - the body was in the front seat next to the pilot, in a body bag. MeFi's old ColdChef can probably elaborate, but apparently the recently dead can sometimes move or make sounds in their own. Suffice to say the pilot was more than a little frightened.
posted by exogenous at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


the rain fell in torrents, obviously.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2012


exogenous: Are you sure that you don't mean a Cessna 152 rather than a 172? The older 172's had a bench seat in the back which would be perfect for a living-impaired American but the 152 is only a 2 seater with no room at all for such cargo in the back.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 1:36 PM on September 21, 2012


the rain fell in torrents, obviously.

Surprisingly, people in the 90510 had a clear night.
posted by tilde at 1:45 PM on September 21, 2012


I'd have seated the stiff in front so as to keep an eye on him.
posted by hat_eater at 1:58 PM on September 21, 2012


Podkayne of Pasadena: "exogenous: Are you sure that you don't mean a Cessna 152 rather than a 172? "

Apparently I can't write anything here without making a mistake today. Henning was on Pilotcast #62, not Uncontrolled Airspace. It was a 172 in the story (starts at 8:00) - sounds like the body had to be flat (rigor mortis?) so I guess the seat back was down.
posted by exogenous at 4:04 PM on September 21, 2012


I remember the day I passed my private checkride... there was a huge thunderstorm brewing and the usual assortment of airport bums were sitting on the benches outside the FBO, looking at the storm. One of them was a freight dog heading in that direction, so he was grounded. Feeling good about myself ("I'm a pilot!") and idly considering a career change to aviation, I started asking him about his life.

He got paid 25 cents a mile, flying cancelled cheques at night in a ratty old Piper Navajo that looked in extremis. He slept on FBO couches when he could, and ate whatever the vending machine had. "But I just got an apartment!" he said proudly. He -- with thirteen other pilots -- rented an place in Denver, so any time any of them were in the area, they could sleep in an actual bed. Oh, and he had a girlfriend who was also a freight dog -- they saw each other about once a month or so, if they happened to be in the same city.

Perhaps being a professor is not that bad.
posted by phliar at 4:48 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did a small amount of "freight puppy" duty back in the mid-60's during college- one trip with a body in the back of a Cessna 206 from Fayettevile, Ark. to Kansas City, Mo. was solid IFR and bumpy, at night, and I kept expecting organ music....
posted by drhydro at 9:34 PM on September 21, 2012


dog hangouts like the Petroleum Club in Alamaty, Kazakhstan; the Cyclone in Dubai; Sticky Fingers in Hong Kong; and the legendary Four Floors of Whores in Singapore

I've been to three of those, I used to drink at cyclone fairly often before it finally got shut down for having too many hookers. Freight guys are good fun, but as the article says, slightly crazy.
posted by atrazine at 2:19 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the great treats of the Web is discovering the Pprune sticky thread in the Freight Dogs forum about the strangest freight you've ever hauled.
posted by Devonian at 3:38 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Deadly Express is the Miami Herald investigation mentioned in the first link.
posted by mlis at 5:41 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


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