On a single hand, with two missing fingers, I can count the number of proper vacations my wife and I — and our kids — have taken in our nearly 23 years of marriage.
So a week on Oahu in Hawaii was just what the proverbial doctor ordered.
This trip was no exception. Among the four books in my backpack was “Flights of a Coast Dog” by Jack Schofield.
In retrospect, while seated in 29G on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 22 from KHLN to KSEA, I realize I should’ve packed much lighter. The only book needed — when not splashing in the lagoon or lazily floating the lazy river with my kids — was Flights of a Coast Dog.
Each of Jack’s chapters took me thousands of miles away to the islands of British Columbia of Canada’s western shores. The inlets and rivers and ports and operators are mostly unrecognizable to me, but the scenes painted by Jack’s prose are delicious.
A few of the backdrops to Jack’s stories include Minstrel Island, Discovery Passage, Campbell River, Shawl Bay, Sullivan Bay, and Port Hardy. There are more…many more.Just when you think you’ve met every “unique” personality from Jack’s years as a Coast Dog, another more colorful one appears in the next chapter.
Edward Emery Carder — known as Crazy Eddie — operated “Minstrel Air” and “also declared his occupation as that of ‘teacher’” at Minstrel Island rural school.
Jack recounts one story about Ed: “While carrying three passengers, Ed ran out of gas a few miles short of the seaplane base. Ed called nearby Island Airlines on the radio on his way down: ‘Send a boat to pick up my three passengers, and send over 10 gallons of gas!’ Ed’s plea for help was overheard by a visiting Transport Canada inspector, who himself delivered the gas — along with a suspension to Ed’s operating certificate.”
“Of all the characters I flew, none could hold a candle to Jerry Major,” notes Jack. His million dollar scheme to harvest decades-ago felled cedar trees and split them into shakes nearly worked — until it didn’t.
“If I were you, I would get cash for anything he buys,” stated an unimpressed Ursal Fox. “He’s crazier than a fart.”
A few chapters are dedicated to the harder days that included searching for fellow pilots. They offer a heartwarming insight of the camaraderie among fellow Coast Dogs.
Complementing the myriad stories are photos and illustrations that help bring the people and places into living color in my head.
Flights of a Coast Dog is one of a three-book series by Jack. The set of three books sell in Canada for $75, which translates into $56 USD. Washington and Oregon aviators should add $10 USD ($15 USD for all other states) to cover parcel post. Contact Jack Schofield at firstname.lastname@example.org to order the three-book set.
My dad and I used to joke that such books were bathroom reads — a story that can easily be consumed while visiting the restroom. While that is one way to fly along with this Coast Dog, I’d heartily recommend a warm island in the Pacific Ocean with a cold drink nearby.