We arrived at the Baker airfield on August 19th. Dick, our pilot, who is an extremely nice gentleman escorted us to the plane which was ready and waiting next to the runway. It was a small Cessna – a nice, comfy little plane with great windows, not the regular super-charged turbo prop that was out of service for regular maintenance! We stowed our bags and fishing rods, hopped in and taxied out to the runway where the plane promptly stalled. This was not a good sign. Mr. Squash isn’t very keen on flying as it is, and a horse was looking real good to him at that moment! Dick very patiently tried several times to restart the engine, but it only coughed and sputtered. He wasn’t able to make anything happen, so he radioed back to the tower to call the mechanic. Unfortunately, it was early Sunday morning and the mechanic was nowhere to be found when they called him at home. We had no choice but to deplane and walk back to the waiting area from the runway.
Dick apologized profusely and said they would continue to try to reach the mechanic and let us know when the plane might be ready. An hour later and several more calls would not produce the mechanic. We aren’t sure to this day why, but the pilot called the high school kid who had cleaned out the plane from the day before – maybe trying to find the mechanic. He actually had a suggestion – maybe as he was cleaning, he could have accidentally bumped the emergency fuel valve and turned it off. Bingo! No mechanic needed! By this time the plane had been towed back to the hangar. Once situated back on the plane we promplty flew out of Baker. It was a glorious, sunny day and proved to get quite warm later in the day.
Now flying into the Minam has its own “issues”. It is always best to fly in and out in the early morning. The box canyon we fly into can get notoriously hot which isn't good for uplift when flying a plane. When you're coming out of a box canyon, you want all the lift you can get. Also, the landing strip doubles as a pasture and there is no real up-keep other than if anyone happens to be walking down to the river from the lodge and sees rocks of any size, they pick them up and cast them aside! Usually if there are deer, elk, horses, mules, the occasional cougar or turkeys on the runway they scatter as soon as they hear the plane.
The rest of our flight was mostly uneventful and we arrived in one piece. This is a video of landing at the Minam which we found on You Tube.
Stay tuned for Part 4 of Minam River Wedding!