Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Alaska Adventure: Part 2

Alaska is very different from the lower states, obviously. First off, it is a huge piece of real estate. One can fly hundreds of miles and see no sign of civilization, but you will see some of the most spectacular scenery to be found anywhere on earth. A land of high mountain ranges, some snowcapped year-round. Mount McKinley is among them, being the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet. One feels so terribly lonely, almost as though on another planet.

 The thought kept rumbling around in the back of my mind that if I had an engine failure and went down in this vast timber covered country it would swallow me up without a hiccup and no one would ever find me.

Of course, as always when flying over such places, the engine goes on “automatic rough” and my ears are keenly tuned to detect the slightest variation of sound.

As I explained earlier I was hired to apply seed and fertilizer to sections on the Winter Trail. It had been rubbed raw by the Alaska pipe line consortium as they were building a very large pipeline from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

My boss, a youngish fellow named Ken Frazer, had gotten permission for me to use sections of the new road being built along the Trail for my landing strips. This route would take me many many miles up and over the mountains of the Brooks mountain range and on across the North Slope.

All I had to do was watch out for vehicles also using the road. And other critters such as arctic fox, mountain sheep, caribou herds, grizzle bears, road building crews and their equipment, low flying freight and passenger aircraft, as well as a few bush pilots.

I also found that I must keep an eye out for EPA inspectors strutting around letting us know that they were keeping a close watch on our activities. These turkeys were the worst of the lot. As an example, one morning, I was fueling my aircraft which entailed pumping aircraft grade gasoline from barrels into my fuel tank with a hand-pump. To make sure my fuel hose was clear I ran about a pint of gasoline through the hose and on to ground or road base, as it were. The god-like EPA inspector spied me doing this and officiously marched up and gave me to understand that spilling fuel on the ground was a federal offence because it contaminated the EN-VIRO-MENT. At first I thought he was kidding. I soon found that he was dead serious.

Our conversation went something like this:

"Young man, if you spill any more fuel on this ground I will write you up for a huge fine."

"Well now, do you really think a pint of gasoline is going to contaminate the EN-VIRO-MENT?"

"It damn sure does. Nature didn’t intend for that gasoline to be on top of the ground, not even a pint."

"Now wait a minute, Mr. Grand Federal EPA representative, don’t you think I am part of nature?"

He glared at me, a surprised look on his officious face and snapped, "You know it ain’t natural for that gasoline to be on top of the ground."

"Great-scot! Nature didn’t intend for this pipeline to be here either, or this road or these camps or any of this traffic and you are concerned about a pint of fuel? You do realize if we weren’t here you wouldn’t have a job. Not only that, my big fat friend, but I am part of nature and this specimen of nature thinks it is better to fuel your airplane with a clean hose. I run some fuel through it so as to remove any dirt and debris and if I got that stuff in my plane’s fuel tank I might crash and really mess up the environment with aircraft parts and my blood, guts and other body parts."

He couldn't think of a rebuttal but I didn't think he liked to be called fat. He puffed up like a big toad frog and gave me a good cussing and said, "If you do that again I will have you removed from this operation."

Anyway, I never saw him again and I continued to clean my hose the same way. In fact I chuckled as I ran a couple of pints through the hose just see if the sky would fall.

We moved on up the trail and were within about 50 miles of Prudhoe Bay when the weather turned sour on us, It began to snow and blow and the camp supervisor of the camp where we were staying came to us and said, "You boys had better leave before it gets any worse."

I got in my plane and headed for the pass through the Brooks Range. I didn't get far up the route. The cloud ceiling got lower and lower until there was no room to fly under it. I turned back and tried another pass. It too was closed by clouds.

I returned to the camp. where I was staying. The camp supervisor soon appeared at my room and gave me to understand that he was shipping me out anyway. He said in a very strong British/South African accent, "We need your beds for other workers. You will be leaving."

I explained that my aircraft did not have the necessary instruments to fly on instruments alone.

"Makes no difference, you will have to leave your aircraft in our custody and board the next commercial passenger plane that makes a daily run, landing at this camp each day. You can come back retrieve your aircraft when the weather permits... which may be next spring."

The weather was so bad with very low ceilings and it was nearly dark and gloomy. I was pretty sure no pilot in his right mind would be making a landing in a passenger airline type aircraft at this little airport which was located in the bottom of a large canyons. How wrong I was. A short time later I hear the engines of an approaching aircraft. I looked up the canyon, which was pretty much a tunnel about two hundred yards in width with rock walls on each side and a ragged cloudy ceiling of about two or three hundred feet. As I watched, a twin-engine turbo-prop Fairchild 24 burst out of the cloudy ceiling, flaps deployed, gear down and in seconds made a touchdown like he did this every day... which he did.

I climbed aboard, the plane was quickly turned around and we took off and within seconds we plunged back into the cloudy ceiling. In a very short time we broke out on top of the dirty scud in time to see a beautiful Alaskan sunset.

From that, I came to understand the skill and nerve of Alaskan pilots. My hat's off to the likes of them.

My return to the lower 48 was uneventful. So ends my little story of ag-flying above the Arctic Circle.

Photograph by Dale in 1974

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Alaska Adventure: Part 1

I was sitting there eating a peanut butter sandwich when the phone rang.

"Dale, this be Shoemacher."

"Yes, boss what’s up?"

"How would you like to go to Alaska?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, it being the first of September, our season is over so I thought you might be interested in a different sort of flying job."

"Can you supply more specifics?"

"Oh, heck yes, I am full of specifics," he chortled. "The person they wants has to be around 6 feet tall, weigh about 175 pounds, have good sanitary habits and steely nerves, be fearless, brave, and good looking, and also (by the way) he needs to know how to fly."

"Well, them specifics fit me to a tee, I reckon. Especially the good-looking part. What does it pay?" I asked.

"The figure they gave me was that the feller would need a tow-sack in which to carry the money home."

That got my undivided attention.

After I got all the (real) specifics I packed my ole travel-weary suitcase and next day took a commercial airline flight to Sea-Tac airport in Seattle Washington. From there I took another flight to Anchorage Alaska. There I met a young feller I will call Sourdough John, who represented a company called New Era Reclamation. These folks were under contract with a consortium of pipeline building companies that were in the process of building a pipeline from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. This company had been wrangling with the EPA for years and finally received permission to proceed.

But to gain this permission the EPA had specifics to be met. The most important one was that after the pipeline was installed, all the terrain had to be put back to its original condition. That is what New Era Reclamation was contracted to do.

Well Sourdough John and I took a commercial flight to Fairbanks, Alaska which is where I was to pick up the ag-plane that I was going to fly - a Cessna Agwagon. The Agwagon was an airplane built specifically for ag-flying work: dusting, spraying, etc.

Upon reaching Fairbanks I was introduced to several men employed by New Era Reclamation and was given a more detailed explanation of what was underway and what was expected of me. They gave me a history to date on the overall plan.

It was something like this: The first step was to build camps for workers along the proposed route of the pipeline. These were placed at intervals of about 75 miles and each camp was to accommodate around 300 to 400 workers. Keep in mind that there was no road or railway along the route. The building supplies had to be hauled in on huge trucks during the winter months when the ground was frozen solid enough to support them without damaging the tundra. 

They called the route the "Winter Trail."  At most of the camps there was a fairly good landing strip for aircraft.

The problem arose when spring came and the Winter Trail began to thaw. The cargo trucks should have stopped, but some continued up the trail and in a few places the tundra was damaged. To reclaim these damaged places New Era Reclamation hired me to fly arctic grass seed and then come back over the places with fertilizer. That brought me up to date.

I started at the Yukon River and worked my way northward. I used the newly graveled roadways as my landing strips. The seed and fertilizer had been stockpiled along the way at strategic points. My loading crew was Eskimo and Indians. They thought the whole thing was a joke and took far too much time loading the plane. Back in the lower 48 states a two-man crew could load the plane in about 5-10 minutes. These four-man turkeys took at least 35-40 minutes and sometimes longer.

It was a very interesting experience. I was not the only plane in the area. There were large two- and four-engine planes flying in and out of the camp strips carrying freight, passengers and mail. 

I had radio contact with the ground stations as well as the planes. It was funny sometimes - I could hear the conversation between the ground station and say, a large freight hauling plane. The ground station would caution the large plane to be aware of an EGGWAGON working the area roads. This usually caused a gabble of conversation amongst them. Or a response like, "What the heck is he doing down there?" 

I would usually pipe up and say, "I am flinging fertilizer on the road in places that you despoilers have messed up. I do this so the EPA won’t shut you down again." 

This usually brought a response like, "Carry on, buddy." I do believe I was the first ag-pilot to ply my trade this far north.

I'll write some more of my Alaska adventures in my next blog. 

Dale and his (slow) loading crew

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Nefarious Pea-Killer

Many farmers had fields of peas alongside a field of wheat. They were always nervous when an ag-plane was spraying the wheat for weeds because the chemicals that were used to kill weeds in the wheat would also kill peas. If the wind happened to be blowing from the wheat field toward the pea field, the drifting over-spray could do a lot of damage to the peas.

One day my friend Buck Erickson was spraying a wheat field with a chemical, carbine, that would kill wild oats. Now carbine will not harm peas. The wheat field that Buck was spraying lay alongside a field of peas. The farmer who owned the pea field, thinking that Buck was applying the common weed killer called 24D, became concerned that the overspray would drift over on his peas.

Mr. Farmer ran out into his field of peas and began trying to wave Buck off. Of course, Buck paid him no mind because he knew the carbine wasn’t going to harm the peas. In desperation, the farmer ran back to his house to call the headquarters of the spray company that Buck worked for to tell them to stop him.

By sheer coincidence Buck accidently struck the telephone line which ran to the farmer’s house, cutting it down. The farmer was so enraged that he jumped in his pickup and raced to the airport to blast the company.  

He stormed into the office and yelled that not only he could not wave the blanky-de-blank pilot off but the blanky-de-blank pilot cut his phone line down so he couldn’t call the office to stop him!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Don't Meet in the Middle

I was working for Arrow Aviation, east of Lewiston, Idaho, applying dry fertilizer to winter wheat. About 2 miles away on another make-shift air strip two of my friends were doing the same thing for a competitor.

I guess I should change the names to protect the guilty. One friend was Fats Hughes and the other was named Germania Gene.

When flying on dry fertilizer it only takes a few minutes to apply a full load of fertilizer if the field you are fertilizing is close by. So it was this day for my friends. As one pilot was out applying his load to the field, the other one was on the ground being loaded. As soon as the load was pumped into the plane on the ground, the pilot quickly swung the plane around and headed down the strip for a takeoff. Shortly after he was airborne he would head for the field being treated and usually pass the other plane returning for his next load. 

Nothing complicated about this, most crop-dusting crews did this regularly. Generally, you would hit the ground about every 15 or 20 minutes. Very monotonous. Up and down, back and forth, get a load, takeoff, fly it on the field and return for the next load, all day long.

The strip that my friends were working off was located in the middle of a pea field. It had a sizeable hump in the middle so much so that when you started your takeoff run you could not see the opposite end of the strip until you topped this hump. Still, it was a smooth strip and the hump presented no problem to experienced pilots. 

You started your takeoff going up-hill, you topped the hill and started downhill and were soon airborne. Same thing in reverse when landing. It was a steady rhythm. 

For some reason, Fats Hughes had a problem and came back to the strip early. He landed on the down-hill side of the hump. Germania Gene didn’t see Fats land. He received his load, swung around, and poured on the coals to the old Pratt Whitney and went roaring up-hill for his takeoff. 

You guessed it. They met at the top of the hump. 

Fortunately, each was off center of the strip, each was a little to his right. They passed each other and sheared off the upper and lower wings on the left side of both Stearman biplanes. Gene said they passed close enough that he could have reached out and slapped Fats as he went by.

Of course, they filled the air with the debris of chopped up airplane wings. Gene, who was taking off, had up a head of steam as they collided. His plane was going fast and before he could shut it down, it careened around to the left, making an wide circular path out through the pea field, and headed back toward Fat’s plane. 

Fats’s plane slewed around, went off the strip, and quickly came to a stop. Whereupon Fats, seeing the other plane circling and coming back in his direction, bailed out and started running. 

Later he explained, "Well, h***, he made one pass at me and I shore wasn’t gonna sit there and let him make another one." 

Fats was a tobacco-chewing feller and said it was enough to make him swaller his chaw!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fog vs the Bossman

Back around 1963 or so, I was flying for American Dusting Company of Chickasha, Oklahoma. My unit was based in the town of Pecan Gap Texas. Pecan Gap consisted of a small restaurant, a service station, a feed store and about fifteen private residences. The town was surrounded by thousands of acres of cotton fields. 

My airport was owned and operated by a man named Weldon Briscoe who was also my boss. The landing strip was in the middle of his 160-acre place. Being a carpenter in the off season Briscoe asked me to build a hanger for him, which I did. It was large enough to hanger two planes - both Stearman biplanes that were once military trainers and had been converted to ag aircraft.

For the benefit of the unlearned, commercial aircraft, even crop-duster types, have to be inspected every 100 hours of flying time by a federal authorized mechanic. To get this inspection each time I reached one hundred hours, I had to fly to Chickasha where American had their headquarters and did all the maintenance on the planes.

One morning Boss Briscoe said, "Roberts, your time is up. Take the plane to headquarters and get the danged inspection."  Whereupon I looked all around and observed that there was pretty heavy fog enveloping us. Briscoe allowed that we were located only a few miles from the Red River, and fog forms along the river at this time of year. "If you can take off, you will be out of the fog very shortly since it just hangs along the river area."

The fog wasn’t very thick, I noticed, because I could see the big red ball of the early morning sun through the fog.

So I mounted my trusty steed and, keeping my eye on that big red ball, departed for Oklahoma. Sure enough, I soon came out of the ground-hugging layers of fog and viola! It was a beautiful clear day on top of the fog. 

I continued to climb, thinking if I got high enough I could probably see that the fog was just local. I climbed and climbed and climbed. At ten thousand feet all I could see in all directions was the brilliantly white cottony fog; no holes, no openings anywhere.

I wasn’t too worried though, I figured I would take up a heading to Chickasha and no doubt would leave the fog behind after a bit. As I said, it was a beautiful spring morning and I was enjoying the flight thinking how lucky I was to be flying on such a glorious day. 

I flew for about an hour and very slowly two thing began to crowd into my consciousness. One, the fog was not any local thing at all and two, my fuel gauge was getting nearer and nearer to the empty point. The fuel tank located in the top wing of the biplane directly in the middle of the center-section. The fuel gauge was a glass tube attached to the bottom of the tank directly in front of my eyes. It was placed there for a reason.

This airplane was originally designed for a 225 hp Lycoming engine which consumed about 10 or 12 gallons per hour. The tank held about 46 gallons of fuel which would give one about three and a half hours of flight. But...when the plane was converted to crop-dusting configuration a 450 hp Pratt Whitney engine was added. This engine burned about 20 gallons of fuel per hour of flight, meaning I only had about 30 more minutes of flight before I ran out of fuel. 

Still no sign of the ground anywhere. I became alarmed and began to make desperate plans.

I decided I would have to go down through the fog. I would slow the plane to the slowest speed that it would fly and still have control, and take whatever came, be it good or bad. Just before I did this suddenly I saw a small hole in the white layer below me.

As I circled the hole I could see the ground and there was a strange pattern on the earth. I could not imagine what it was. Whatever it was, I was about to find out. 

I rolled into a tight turn and cut my engine back, beginning a corkscrew descent into this cloudy well of an opening. Nearer and nearer came the ground. When the altimeter showed that I was only about a hundred or so feet above the surface suddenly - I was in the clear. Thank God, there was a clear space between the bottom of the fog and the earth! 

The strange pattern I had seen was a fish hatchery. It was a small lake with dikes running parallel across it, spaced about twenty feet apart. I had not remembered this landmark though I had flown this way several times in the past.

Of course, I rolled out of my tight turn into level flight and stopped my descent. However, I was still as lost as a goose. I took up a heading to the northwest anyway and figured, "At least I can land in a pasture or field."  

Then I suddenly came to a highway. "That is where I will put this flying machine down," I determined. I turned so I was flying along parallel to the pavement, expecting to hear the engine stop any moment. Then up came a sign that said "Duncan 10 miles." This was going to be my first fuel stop. Within minutes I was on the runway and taxing into the gas pit.

I pull up to the fuel pump and shut the engine down. Needless to say I was a bit sweaty. The small airport fuel boy came sauntering out and looked at me and then up at the low ceiling, shook his head and said "What in God’s name are you doing flying in this stuff?" I wondered the same thing.

The gas boy filled my tank and it took 45 1/2 gallons. As I said, the tank was a 46 gallon tank. 

Moral: I was stupid for taking off in the fog no matter what the bossman sez.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Into the Jungle with Tarzan

After arriving in Panama City (see my last blog entry) Lee and I spent a few days with a young missionary couple. "Joe" was a pilot and would be flying the plane that we had brought down from the states. He had not flown this type of aircraft before so we spent a few days checking him out on it. Then we decided that it would be best if we and Joe traveled up the Pookarue River to the newly created landing strip where the plane and pilot would be based. 

This was a wonderful adventure.

First we had to fly to a village at the mouth of the river. There we were joined by a young missionary name Johnny. He was wearing only shorts. No shirt, no shoes, just shorts. Period. All he needed was a knife in a scabbard on his belt and he would have looked exactly like Tarzan - and that is what I called him. He lived at the village where we were headed and had come downriver to meet us.

The river was the only means of reaching the Indian village deep in the Panamanian jungle. The river current was about five mile an a hour. It was not the muddy stream I expected, although it wasn’t completely clear either.

We traveled in a large dugout boat made of a single log about twenty-five feet long. It was powered by a modern outboard motorboat engine of some twenty-five or thirty horsepower. Going upstream against the river current we could make about ten or twelve mph. The boat was heavily loaded with supplies for the missionaries who live with the Indians some fifty miles upriver as the crow flies. Of course the river doesn’t travel as the crow does, but weaves and winds through the jungle. We spent the better part of the day getting to the village.

The engine was handled by an Indian native named Santiago who spoke only Spanish, but Tarzan also spoke fluent Spanish and could interpret for us. The weather was hot and muggy and we encountered several showers which soaked us. We didn’t mind because it cooled us a bit.

About mid-morning after two or three hours of traveling Tarzan said, "How would you fellows like a cold coke?" We all agreed that would be nice, not thinking for a minute that it was a possibility. 

We began to smell a very bad odor. Rounding a bend in the river, there was an Indian village of about two dozen dwellings. The huts were made of bamboo and were built on a bamboo platform about four feet off the ground. The roofs were of thatch. Most of them had no walls. The village had no sewer system. One relieved one’s self by going to the edge of the platform and doing your business. Consequently with the frequent rains the entire area was covered in a fine ooze of human excrement. 

Tarzan didn’t seem to mind, pulled the boat up, and tied it to a stump. Then he went paddy-footing barefoot into the village. We followed, holding our noses.

He took us to a bamboo structure with outside walls. Inside there was a ancient Coca Cola icebox full of ice cold Cokes. It was cooled by a propane refrigerated unit. I could hardly believe my eyes. But it was sure 'nuff good ole Coke. We often found this theme in South America - the mix of ancient and modern.

In late afternoon we arrived at the village of our destination. This was where Tarzan and his beautiful wife lived. There was also another missionary family living here as well. The missionary man was the very opposite of Tarzan. The Indians had tagged him “El Raton” which translates “The Mouse.” This seemed to fit him so that is what we called him.

As soon as the sun went down the entire population went to the beach of the river and bathed, which seemed like a reasonable thing to do except for the fact that everyone - men, women, and kids - stripped off all their clothes and went to the water buck-naked. Everyone except us bashful Norte Americanos. No one seemed to be self-conscious. Tarzan explained that it was their custom and they thought we were odd because we didn’t join them.

We spent the night with the Tarzan family sleeping in hammocks.

Next day we went out and inspected the landing strip. It was obvious that the people had put in many days of back-breaking labor to clear a strip in the jungle long enough to land a plane on. Some of the trees were huge and they had to be grubbed out, roots and all. 

Anyway we pilots pronounced it adequate and we went back to Panama City so Joe and Lee could take the plane into the new strip. They said it was a bit bumpy yet, but would soon be smoothed out and covered with grass. 

The little village would soon be connected to the rest of the world by something other than a dugout canoe. Now if anyone became seriously hurt or ill, in a short time they could be in a modern hospital under a doctor’s care. For this, the missionaries and the Indian were very thankful.

We considered our mission completed and soon were on our way home via commercial airlines. And so ended that adventure.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We Speaka Da Spanish... Sorta

I have been often asked, "What do you do in the off season, when the crops are harvested and the bugs are on vacation?"

Well, one of the things I did to occupy my time and get my mind off of chasing bugs was to ferry aero-planes from one place to another. Say for instance, from a lil ole village in Nebraska to the out-back in the jungles of Panama in Central America.

I happened to be acquainted with a missionary pilot type name Lee German. Lee had been a missionary pilot in the Philippine Islands for some twenty years. He wife became ill and he had to move back to his home in Nebraska. So he was asked by the missionary organization to head up a aviation department. 

Lee immediately went to work on this and established a home base where he collected aircraft of one sort and another, did some repair work on them, and trained young fellows in this type of flying and ferrying airplanes from the base to where ever they were needed. 

He called me about the time my ag-flying season ended in Idaho one day and asked me to accompany him on a trip to deliver a Cessna 185 to a missionary pilot in Panama. The missionary pilot down there with the help of the natives had just completed a new airstrip deep in the heart of the jungles of Panama near the border with Columbia. I decided this would be a useful way to spend my time in the off-season. 

I packed my battered bag and took a flight on the airline down to a commercial airport near Lee’s home base. I had worked with Lee in the construction of his home hangers, etc., and we flew some together so he knew I was a reasonably experienced pilot.

When I arrived Lee laid out his route that we would follow including gas stops, hotel, border crossing stops, and so on. He made sure my passport and visa papers were in order. The Cessna had a belly pod strapped under the fuselage for extra baggage and freight. We filled the plane full of a lot of stuff that the missionary needed but couldn’t get down there in Panama. Then we cast off one fine morning and headed south. 

We got to the Brownsville port of entry too late to clear customs so we had to spend the night and take care of customs the next morning.

Then we pretty much followed the Gulf side coast line all the way to Veracruz, Mexico. Lee had asked me if I could speak Spanish and I told him a little bit. He said he could speak a little too. When we got to Veracruz I called the tower in English. No answer. So I tried out my Spanish. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Torre de Veracruz, es Cessna 5432, 10 millas al norte. Solicitar permiso para entrar en patron de trafico. (Veracruz tower, this is Cessna 5432, 10 miles north. Request permission to enter traffic pattern.)

The tower came back at me with, "Bla de bla de bla de bla, Estan habilitados para entrar entra en trafico."  All I got was that I was cleared to enter traffic pattern.

I fell in line with the other traffic. Lee said, “Did you understand all that?”

“Heck no, but I’m pretty sure we are cleared to enter the pattern.”

We made the downwind leg and turned to the base leg. I heard my number called by the tower and something like, "Blab blab blab, se borran a la tierra, blab blab blab." I was fairly certain he meant, "You are cleared to land."

I made the final turn and Lee said, "I hope they aren’t sending the Federales out to meet us!"

I landed without incident and taxied up to the parking area and a gas truck came out to meet us. I guess no one was interested in my semi-Spanish. The young boy who ran the gas truck looked at our Cessna with the bulging belly pod and said, “Et looks likey et is goin’ to have some sons.” Lee laughed and told him it was definitely pregnant.

We got something to eat and cleared customs. Lee called the tower on the telephone and tried to explain that we had very little Español. I guess one of the tower persons understood a bit of English. Lee said his reply was a mix of the two languages - but mostly it seemed that they were all laughing at us. 

I asked for permission to depart. “Blab blab blab blab, número cuatro, blab blab."
I took that to mean we were number four to take off. We pulled into line and when I heard, "Número 5432 Cessna, se borran para salir (you are cleared to take off)," I poured the coal to it and we took off headed southwest across Mexico to the Pacific coast. Next stop Guatemala City.

As we flew along Lee said, "Roberts, your Spanish is about as sorry as I have ever heard."  

I retorted, "Well it got us in and out of Mexico without being shot or arrested. And by Montezuma’s whiskers, yours is worse than mine."

"Naw, naw, mine is fluent compared to yours," he insisted.

"The heck it is! I heard your so-called Spanish when you talked to the tower on the phone. You said, 'We no speaka de Spanish mucho good.' Ha!"