Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Passing of Cliff Hudson, Talkeetna Bush Pilot

The Anchorage Daily News story today about the life and times of Talkeetna bush pilot Cliff Hudson covers only part of what made Cliff Hudson irreplaceable.

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century enmeshed in the web of our cell phone devices and digital links to the virtual world, the passing of a man like Cliff Hudson is a reminder that at some point our lives are both enriched and dependent upon those quiet, self-possessed people who find their niche and live their lives just doing what they find needs to be done without hoopla or fanfare.

A mere 15 years ago, in the days when CB radios were the sole shaky link between the homestead and the outside, Judy's mom had a heart attack in Virginia. We received word within hours of the hospitalization through a phone call from a family member in Virginia to a Talkeetna friend who then contacted Hudson Air Service. Despite the fact that it was the busy Denali climbing season when every flyable moment is booked solid ferrying climbers on and off the mountain, an orange-painted Cessna piloted by Jay Hudson was soon circling above the cabin. We fired up the CB and received timely word of the family crisis. While today (assuming the cell towers are functioning) a digital message might be transmitted in seconds; in the real world it was always comforting to know that Cliff and Jay Hudson were out there flying cover for those of us who lives take us to the backwoods of Alaska.

Whether it was making a weekly mail run to Gold Creek or lending a helping hand to the down and out, Cliff Hudson always just did what needed to be done. He will be sorely missed.