Lady on a Pedestal
Gordon Bartsch

"I just finished 'LADY'. I read every word and every log book entry and every photo. It was a wild ride with you through the storms, snow and ice and -40 degrees. Every page greeted me with a new adventure. By the end, I could feel the emotion that compelled it's writing At first I thought it was a sad ending, but now I think it's an enduring story with no end." Ed J


Why I wrote the book...

Lady on a pedestal
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Dawn

"Don't ever doubt for a second that strong emotional ties can develop between airplanes and their pilots. When Dawn and I first saw CPY on her pedestal, we felt she recognized us. She seemed to be waiting for us as we left the terminal building and slowly turned as we passed in front of her, still looking at us as we left the airport. Days later,on our return, she was again waiting for us and as before, followed us to the terminal building.  The strong emotion Dawn and I felt was as real as the tears in our eyes. I knew a book would have to be written before her rich history was lost.

It took twenty years of thinking about it before finally getting serious, but the actual writing was fun with a lot of reliving the past. The book began as a story and history of a special DC3 but expanded as the tale unfolded to include the adventures of a young girl and her determined efforts to be a pilot in a male dominated profession. Finally----it didn't start out to be a love story either but the more I got into the story about Dawn, the DC3 and our lives together, the more detail that I didn't want to talk about had to be told as well. As Michael Gates headlined his Yukon News column "History Hunter",  An aviation love triangle.

All the story's and events actually happened and are factual. We had saved letters, journals, news letters and our pilot log books as well as aircraft log books. Dawn's mother had saved all the letters Dawn had written to her while she was learning to fly. The fun part came when we would be reminiscing  about a trip or event and Dawn would suddenly remember a comment or another little event and I would then go back and add the tidbit into the story."  

Gordon Bartsch

Footnote: A Young Joe...

At the book signing event in Calgary last November (2013) several of us were hangar flying as all pilots do when they get together. Stories about fuel hauling and DC3's were being told and what had happened to JWP. The last I had heard of her was that she was stored, wings off, behind the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame hangar in Wetaskiwin. Joe McBryne, better known as Buffalo Joe of Ice pilots tuned in to the conversation telling us that he now had her in his Red Deer hangar and could be made airworthy again if needed. Joe continued with his story which I found close to home and wished I had known when writing about "The Great Lake Salvage and JWP". (P116).

A young aspiring pilot, 16 year old Joe McBryne was being mentored by Chuck McAvoy. As related in the book, Chuck salvaged a DC3 that was sinking through the spring ice of Great Slave Lake and I flew her from Yellowknife to Calgary for her overhaul. When the aircraft was lifted out of the water at Sawmill Bay and loaded into a barge, young Joe sat in the cockpit for his first "pilot in command" DC3 trip and proceeded to get air/sea sick during the rough crossing. When we loaded up the salvage crew with Chuck McAvoy in the right seat, Joe was waiving us goodby and tells me he still has the pictures of our take-off for Calgary. Six years later, Dawn would hire the young Joe as a GNA DC3 pilot, proving once again, aviation is a small world.