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July 18, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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July 18, 2014
 

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Watson From page 1 al Film Festival. Later that year, KCET-TV in Los Angeles, the nation's largest independent pub- lic television station, built a whole pledge drive around the film and sliowed it a dozen times. To make a long story short, which is probably what you want anyway, I've been invited to ap- pear at next month's "Celebrity Lectures" at the WMOF (I can't wait to see who the celebrity is!) and show parts of the film. Up un- til now, if you wanted to see what I looked like in real life, you had to take the three very dissimilar thumbnails of me that the Islander alternates weekly with my col- umn, add them all up and divide by three. The show starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 16, at Louis Zamperini Field, 3315 Airport Drive, Red Baron #3 in Torrance. The program will last about one hour or until I put the last person to sleep. Funny I .should bring up our seaplane history, because that's exactly what this week's column is about. Or, more specifically, the One day, a Goose-load of passengers was patient- ly waiting for their pilot on the tarmac at the Long Beach Airport for a trip to Catalina. That pilot was Kilgour who eventually showed up land took a seat in the passenger compartment rather than the pilot's seat ... After a few minutes of sitting there, Kilgour finally turned to the other passengers and asked "Doesn't anyone know how to fly this thing?" zany history of some of the antics, that were considered quite nor- practical jokes and unintentional mal--would leave most members mishaps from the seaplane days, of the Age of Litigation and Politi- some of which will make cal Correctness drop- your hands tremble and jawed. your blood curl. In order to spare ........ People under the age some embarrassment, of about 30 will have I am intentionally ed- trouble believing that iting out some of the some of the following names of the involved events could have actu- parties and even air- ally taken place. How lines. Some of the fol- could a world filled with lowing stories appear a bunch of old folks be so in my film, some not. harrowing and adventur- Jim Watson Let's begin with the ous?, they might ask. Columnist wild adventures of the But it was a different "cigar smoking pilot": world back then. I'm Back in the 1960s, not saying it was bet- most seaplanes took ter or worse, it was just different, off and landed out at Pebbly The things that people got away Beach. To get in and out of the with "back in the day"---things water, they used the ramp that still Please help Catalina's Bison!- Protectthe Bisontromthedroht.o. Catalina's iconic bison are in danger. Catalina Island is in the grips of an extreme drought and the bison are getting hit hard with low food and water supplies. We have set-up an emergency relief pro- gram to import feed to the herd and placed water troughs around the Island. Shipments of feed are costing $8000 each. Please donate today to help our beloved free range Bison herd get through this drought. Many thanks, ,   ,  exists about where helicopter pad is today. One fine day, a Grumman Goose (the preferred amphibian of the day) was having trouble taking off for its trip back to the main- land. Turned out the nose of the plane was a little too light. To remedy the situation, the pilot had his helper bring up two or three 5-gallon cans of gasoline from the rear of the plane to put in the compartment in the nose. This seemed to work, so the pi- lot and his full plane of passengers took off and headed across the channel. About halfway across, the pilot and passengers began to notice the distinct smell of gasoline wafting through the cabin. Fearing an imminent explo- sion, the pilot--who had a lit cigar in his mouth--landed the Goose in the middle of the channel and cut the engines. He then proceeded to climb out onto the nose of the plane, open the compartment and dump all of the gasoline into the sea. While he was doing this, he CONTIN- UED PUFFING AWAY ON HIS CIGAR. Once the offending gasoline was over the side, he climbed back into the pilot's seat, took off and flew to Long Beach without inci- dent. The pilots were known for be- ing pranksters and the practical jokes they played on the ramp agents, their passengers and even each other were legion and legend- ary. Former ramp agent and station manager David L. Johnston, au- thor of "Knights of Avalon" (Ho- rizon Line Press, 2005), once told me a story about pilot "Wild Bill" Kilgour. Watson, Page 9 i! SANTA CATALINA Ir ISLAND COMPANY 31o.51o.741o VisitCatalinaIsland.com 8 i Friday, July 18, 2014 : THE CATALINA ISLANDER