Cessna

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I planned to cook oatmeal after I finished that first coffee I mentioned, but Margie and Lynx still slept, so I decided to go to Abby’s instead – under my own leg power. Enroute, this Cessna passed overhead. My own little Citabria was still whole and in good flying condition the first time I set out to photograph the Cross Island bowhead hunt of the Iñupiat Iñuit of Nuiqsut. The Citabria is not an IFR plane and I had to land south of the Brooks Range to wait out bad weather. By the time I finally reached the coast, the hunters had just struck and killed their last whale. I landed at Prudhoe Bay’s Deadhorse airport, found a fellow willing to sit in the backseat of the tiny Citabria and then flew out over the ocean and found the whalers about 20 miles out, towing the bowhead to the island. I dropped down very low over the boats and the whale and then, each time I would make a pass over, had the fellow in the backseat hold the stick while I took pictures. “Cheated death again!”he muttered after I got him safely back to Deadhorse. I went on to publish a 96-page essay on Nuiqsut in Uiñiq magazine that included the aerials and the aftermath of the hunt, plus a lot of other stuff, but not the Cross Island hunt itself. Last September, 20 years later, I finally returned and covered the hunt start to finish. This is why I had planned to go to Nuiqsut this week – to photograph the Nalukataq – the whale feast. Then that guy rammed me with his big Ford truck and put the whole shoot into question. This is @billhess posting for @burndiary from Wasilla, Alaska. #airplane #wasilla #alaska

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