I’d like to share with you the story of a young friend of mine called Louis Hamilton-Fletcher (the third), a specialist aviator running short-hop flights out of Dudinka. When I met him, he was paid a full time wage in gold bullion to run Narwhal fillets down to the the Czar’s summer domicile in Kazachinskoye. This was a risky job because eleven months and three weeks¹ of the year the air was so cold it would freeze the fuel in the tanks solid. Louis was fond of telling me this happened to him often, and he had realized this also froze the water in the clouds, which is where he landed when the weather was particularly nasty. Right atop a cloud, pretty as you please. Now, this gave me a wonderful idea because at the same time, and for reasons I cannot go into, I needed to rather urgently get out of Dudinka, and Russia, and basically the Northern hemisphere. Let’s just say not everyone admires a sandwich, and some Czars don’t know what’s good for them. But that’s another story.
So it was that Louis Hamilton-Fletcher III was the brave soul who helped me escape and begin my life anew in the great Southern Land, and I am forever grateful. We skipped from cloud to cloud, landing regularly for picnics (consisting largely of a lovely Narwhal gnocchi I was fond of at the time) and made it to my rendezvous with a contact in Nogliki who ran a little submarine that took me out into the Sea of Okhotsk… I’ve said entirely too much.
This scrapbook photo was the last I saw of Louis, beside his magnificent machine. Thanks, Louis – the bravest and most daring of us all. Salut!
¹ The other seven days of the year are gorgeous… if you’re a penguin. Or a polar bear. Or completely and utterly certifiably insane.
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