Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Jay Hudson

Jay Hudson was interviewed on June 8, 2000 by Dave Krupa at the Hudson Air Service hangar in Talkeetna, Alaska. In this interview, Jay discusses growing up with his pilot father (Cliff Hudson), how he became a pilot himself, and the many changes he has seen in the air taxi business over several decades. He talks about the challenges of flying in the mountains and dealing with bad weather, landing on glaciers, and participating in rescue operations. He also mentions the relationships he has with climbers, and his thoughts about the consequences of intense use of Denali and the role of National Park Service management. Shortly after this interview, tragedy struck when Hudson Air Service pilot Don Bowers and his National Park Service passengers were killed after failing to reach basecamp in bad weather.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-17-15

Project: Denali Mountaineering
Date of Interview: Jun 8, 2000
Narrator(s): Jay Hudson
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.

Sections

1) Becoming a pilot

2) The planes he flew and the service provided by Hudson Air Service

3) An exciting airplane ride with his father, Cliff Hudson

4) How his father resolved the situation

5) Hunting as a boy

6) Hunting caribou with his father.

7) How the Hudson family arrived in Alaska after World War II

8) How his father learned to fly from his brother, Glen

9) His mother and about filling his father's shoes

10) The challenges faced when flying in the Denali area

11) The changing attitude of clients and flying to Kahiltna base camp

12) His special glacier landing techniques

13) Use of weighted bags to find a good landing strip

14) Warnings to other pilots about glacier landings

15) Problems that can occur other than wind

16) Some outstanding flying experiences

17) His relationship with the climbers and the National Park Service

18) Rescue operations with the National Park Service

19) His relationship with climbers

20) The differences between scenic flights and rescue flights

21) When the weather is too poor for a rescue flight

22) Military involvement in rescue flights

23) Military involvement in rescues

24) The consequences of intense use of Denali

25) The increasing problem of disposing of human waste on the mountain

26) The experience he makes possible for tourists and why he loves what he does

27) What to bring to Denali

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.

Transcript

Section 1: Palmer, AK\ Talkeetna, AK\ growing up\ flying\ father -- teacher\ flying -- solo\ flying -- legality\ father -- retirement\ flying -- instructor\ Fischer, Michael\ log books\ Hudson's Air Service\ business -- family|

Section 2: airplanes -- Cessna 185\ Cessna 206\ Cessna 172\ airplanes -- Supercub\ passengers -- number\ carrying -- capacity\ Cessna 185 -- workhorse\ supercub -- speed\ money\ clientele -- past\ Mt. McKinley\ climbers\ groups -- size\ people -- bush\ lodges\ caretakers\ mail -- delivery\ highway\ hunting\ fishing\ flights -- scenic\ industry -- tourism\ airport\ airplanes -- Beavers\ airplane -- floats\ landings -- glaciers|

Section 3: glaciers\ steering\ snow -- depth\ operation\ passengers -- capacity\ reputation\ air -- service\ flight -- experiences\ memories -- father\ flying\ Kashwitna River -- smoke\ State Trooper\ airboats -- fire\ disaster\ throttle -- linkage\ cowling\ situation -- dire\ glide|

Section 4: airplane -- engine\ power -- none\ flight -- level\ altitude -- decrease\ evacuation\ Parks Highway\ traffic -- amount\ concerns\ wires -- electrical\ landing\ King, Joe\ screw driver -- repairs\ throttle -- linkage\ ?, Fred\ State Trooper\ road block\ boredom -- hours\ moments -- terror|

Section 5: hunting\ same-day airborne\ meat\ village\ cows -- bearing\ chainsaw -- Mini Mac\ oil -- Wesson\ storage -- snow\ storage -- tarps\ birds\ transport -- airplanes\ trade -- potatoes\ trade -- carrots\ lifestyle\ caribou -- hunting\ airplane -- Supercub\ Caribou -- herd\ shooting\ rifles\ magazine\ chambers\ bullets|

Section 6: airplane -- Supercub\ take-off\ throttle -- speed\ fuel -- problem\ backfire\ caribou -- stampede\ fear\ stump -- log\ caribou -- shot\ bullets -- wasted\ father -- lands\ father -- angry|

Section 7: caribou -- distance\ caribou -- running\ father -- shot\ hunting\ caribou -- meat\ Nelchina herd\ Talkeetna, AK\ Mt. Baldy\ caribou -- hunting\ event -- exciting\ father -- piloting\ Hudson, Glen\ war -- discharged\ Fairbanks -- work\ father -- honorable discharge\ Granger, WA\ Yakima Valley\ letter\ fishing|

Section 8: Civil Aviation Administration\ credentials -- importance\ experience\ career -- flying\ take-off -- first\ flying -- alone\ legality\ license -- pilot\ license -- driver\ Alaska -- theme park\ flying -- ride\ spur road -- construction\ air -- access\ railroad\ access -- boat\ Talkeetna, AK -- Athabaskan\ boats -- paddle\ access -- walking\ McDougal, AK\ Parks Highway\ Fairbanks, AK|

Section 9: mother -- Talkeetna, AK\ grandmother\ background\ family -- Native\ Athabaskan\ school\ piloting -- business\ license -- commercial\ FAA\ cargo -- hauling\ time -- build up\ instrument ticket\ rating -- float\ landing -- Christiansen Lake\ landing -- Cessna 185\ father -- role model\ float time\ passenger -- first\ practice -- time\ business -- taking over|

Section 10: mountain -- environment\ challenges\ aircraft -- light\ mother nature\ weather -- conditions\ weather -- information\ communication -- system\ Kahiltna Glacier\ Kahiltna International Airport\ Mt. McKinley\ North America\ climbers\ Mt. Foraker\ climb -- prestige\ Denali -- West Buttress\ trees -- Birch\ wall tents\ communication -- HF radio\ season -- climbing\ flights -- short|

Section 11: visibility\ pressure -- timeliness\ weather -- pushing\ Mt. McKinley\ weather -- systems\ Alaska Range\ weather -- changes\ route -- standard\ Kahiltna base camp\ Talkeetna, AK\ Mt. Foraker\ One Shot Pass\ Kahiltna Glacier -- Southeast Fork\ location -- shelter\ aircraft -- small\ take-off -- downhill\ area -- compression\ ice -- smooth\ crevasses\ speed -- lift off|

Section 12: problems\ snow -- conditions\ snow -- texture\ slush\ snow -- fresh\ snow -- sticky\ load -- limits\ areas -- unfamiliar\ area -- crevasse-free\ glacier -- sunlight\ waiting\ landing site\ visibility\ glacier -- color\ glacier -- texture\ surface -- proximity\ horizon\ depth perception -- loss\ landing -- "glassy water"\ nose -- up\ airspeed\ landing -- site|

Section 13: landing strip\ bags -- plastic\ weights -- food\ potatoes\ runway -- choice\ fly-over\ bags -- visibility\ bags -- indications\ snow -- conditions\ ice\ snow -- compressed\ wind -- direction\ angle -- horizontal\ landing -- position\ indication -- glide|

Section 14: techniques -- unorthodox\ pilot -- private\ procedures\ operation -- difficulty\ time -- experience\ money\ advice\ glacier -- landings\ area\ flying -- routine\ wind -- patterns\ wind -- variations\ weather -- changes\ wind\ aircraft -- light\ tail wind\ head wind\ sideload\ crosswind\ load\ flight -- difficulties\ problems -- wind\ Mother Nature|

Section 15: June\ glaciers -- freezing\ temperature -- night\ skis -- landing\ hardness\ landing gear -- system\ durability\ spring -- steel\ wheels -- bolts\ stress\ bolts -- cracks\ maintenance specifications\ landing gear -- inspection\ landing gear -- cleaning\ landing gear -- x-ray\ problem -- combat\ afternoon -- slush\ landing -- easier\ aircraft -- standard\ modifications\ airplanes -- Cessna 206\ airplane -- Supercub\ wheel-ski system\ hydraulics\ design -- durability\ design -- errors|

Section 16: odds\ limits -- established\ safeguards -- self-imposed\ stops\ rescue -- working\ limits -- pushing\ touring -- business\ flight -- scenic\ fun\ equipment -- endangered\ clients -- danger\ Denali -- flying\ communications\ people -- flying\ numbers -- concern|

Section 17: age -- mortality\ injury -- reality\ instructors -- excellent\ learning -- "hard way"\ learning -- "easy way"\ opportunity\ information -- sharing\ hardships\ helping\ danger\ community -- climbing\ contact -- relationship\ climbing -- sport\ sport -- international\ climbing -- world\ rescue -- pilot\ National Park Service\ rescue -- business\ communications -- platform\ weathership\ route -- location|

Section 18: helicopters -- Lama\ altitude -- high\ National Park Service\ contract -- Evergreen Helicopters\ communications -- work\ client -- finding\ client -- extracting\ mountain -- locations\ Anchorage -- hospital\ Humana Hospital -- back door\ center -- frost bite\ digits -- frozen\ center -- burn\ Denali\ relationship -- building\ flying\ mountains\ sport -- dangerous\ friends -- death\ falling -- crevasse\ avalanche|

Section 19: camaraderie -- special\ climbers -- gratitude\ life -- saving\ risks -- business\ air taxis\ scenario -- injury\ involvement\ occasion -- rare\ thanks -- personal\ thanks -- rare\ calls\ letters\ 14 camp\ call -- emergency\ response -- typical\ Park Service -- camp\ headquarters -- alert\ Talkeetna, AK\ scenarios -- discussion\ location\ weather\ extraction -- method\ Bowman Bag\ Screamers Suit\ landing\ operations -- different\ weather -- problem\ rescue -- business\ fall -- survival\ injuries\ nose -- broken\ face -- lacerated\ snow\ ankle -- broken|

Section 20: fuel -- load\ airplanes -- Cessna 206\ oxygen -- system\ turbo-charged\ altitude -- high\ wheel skis\ glacier -- landing\ weather -- good\ Bowman Suit\ God Ring -- hardline\ helicopter\ basecamp -- landing\ flight\ ABCs\ flights -- scenic\ flights -- routine\ guidelines\ flying -- rescue\ mode -- different\ problem -- weather\ conditions -- temperature\ conditions -- wind\ parameters\ rescue\ rules|

Section 21: client -- moving\ crew -- size\ weather -- improvement\ ice -- wall\ 14 camp\ Denali Pass\ Denali -- summit\ ground crews\ work -- hard\ self-rescue\ price -- high\ gloves -- lost\ helicopter -- CH47\ winds\ fingers -- freezing\ personnel -- National Park Service\ rescue -- coordination\ rescue -- difficulty\ chimney -- fall\ ankles -- broken\ partner -- downclimb\ glacier\ air taxi -- pilot\ area -- difficult\ thanks -- offered\ operation -- size\ basecamp|

Section 22: weather -- sun\ light -- duration\ overcast -- flat light\ Bowman bag -- landing\ basecamp\ Talkeetna, AK\ Life Flight\ Providence Hospital\ rescues\ military -- involvement\ army -- flying\ helicopter -- CH47 Chinook\ helicopter -- Black Hawk\ Coulis -- Anchorage\ National Guard\ hoist -- highest\ rescue -- 18.6\ climbers -- Korean\ duty time\ Lama -- contract\ climbing -- season\ military -- help\ flying -- hours\ month -- quota\ business -- rescue\ training|

Section 23: money -- waste\ flying -- hours\ training\ mission -- normal\ climbers -- mountain\ helicopter -- CH47\ crew -- mishap\ Talkeetna River\ white water\ North America -- longest\ consequences\ rafts -- small\ canyon -- floating\ canyon -- middle\ camping\ river -- level\ obstacle\ raft -- flipped\ water -- temperature\ immersion -- cold water\ ?, Stan\ headquarters\ park -- entrance\ radio -- CB\ helicopter -- Chinook\ position -- report\ pick-up\ bushes\ helicopter -- ramp\ person -- missing\ jet boat\ deceased -- recovery\ military -- availability|

Section 24: Kahiltna base\ Kahiltna International Airport\ issue -- use\ use -- intensity\ consequences\ National Park Service\ plan -- back-country\ climbers -- number\ success -- ration\ climbing -- community\ McKinley -- climbing\ equipment -- price\ glacier\ ice-axe\ problem -- waste|

Section 25: National Park Service\ waste -- human\ solution -- crevasse\ biohazard\ aircraft -- carrying\ feces\ bag -- plastic\ Talkeetna, AK\ disposal -- dump\ waste -- solid\ trash -- weight\ precautions -- fair\ altitude -- high\ trail -- stations\ altitude -- high\ problem -- waste\ bathroom|

Section 26: father -- promise\ help\ gratification\ rescue -- satisfaction\ tourists\ dreams\ terror\ fear\ nausea\ problems -- weather\ mountain -- visibility\ drought\ weather -- phenomenal\ cycle\ weather -- normal\ rain\ Talkeetna AK\ tour -- greater circle\ car -- rental\ headquarters\ Fairbanks, AK\ Tok, AK\ flight\ planning|

Section 27: hangar\ event -- wonderful\ film -- extra\ suglasses\ sunblock -- SPF 45|