It was after everything had gotten stuck in the mud that Cliff Sweat offered to fly me over the job so that I might be able to figure out a way to get things under motion again. That sounded like a good idea to me, at the time, so I said “let’s go”.
Cliff was a local man who had worked as an equipment operator throughout the entire job. He was a valuable man to have around, because he was a good operator, he knew the country and the people and I trusted him and his judgment. I should say that I trusted his judgment until after that airplane ride.
We had been drinking coffee in “Blackie” Lenox’s Restaurant, so we sat our cups down and went out to the little air field, at the edge of Onaway. Cliff pointed out a little Piper Cub that we were going to use, and we wheeled it out of the hanger. It was a real sharp looking plane that showed evidence of having had proper care, which made me think that Cliff also took good care of his airplane.
We took off and flew over the job for at least an hour, then returned to the field and put the plane back into the hanger. I think that it was when we were putting the plane away that I asked Cliff how long he had owned it. He said that it wasn’t his, that it belonged to a fellow that lived down in Detroit. He didn’t know what the man’s name was, but he was sure that he wouldn’t care if we used it. Then I told him that I didn’t realize that he had a Pilot’s License, and he said that he didn’t have one anymore. It had been revoked a few years before and he hadn’t tried to get it reinstated.
Cliff had an old, Army Surplus, 4X4 truck with a powerful winch on the front of it, so we took that out to the next morning and got it as close to the bogged down D4 Caterpillar as we could, and with the winch, the crawler and the 4X4, we got it out. Then, one by one, we winched the others out and got back to work again.