Flight Training - August 2014 - 30

FLIGHT LESSON

By Anthony T. Catanese
FLIGHT LESSON offers the
opportunity for pilots to learn
from the experiences of others.

ASHES IN THE WIND

A FINAL REQUEST GETS MESSY

T

his occurred 30 years ago, but I remember it as if it was
yesterday.
In 1984, I was a 37-year-old pilot with a 1970 Piper
Cherokee 140. I was the youngest member of the Saturday
morning free-coffee-and-donuts FBO club at Westchester County
Airport (HPN) in White Plains, New York.

30 /

FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

as the priest was saying the benediction, he presented Tony V with the urn
filled with Ray's ashes for Ray's final
request.
Into Tony's new 182 went two other
pilots and the urn, with Tony flying.
Two other airplanes, including my 140,
flew formation for the event. Out over
Long Island Sound at 3,500 feet, and
about 50 miles from the field, Tony had

WE WERE ON A DISCRETE FREQUENCY,
AND ALL I HEARD WAS TONY'S MAYDAY
CALL AMID A LOT OF COUGHING.
one of the men open the side window
to give Ray his last wish.
When they started to dump out the
cremains, the slipstream blew all of
Ray's ashes back into the cabin. We
were on a discrete frequency, and all I
heard was Tony's Mayday call amid a
lot of coughing.
Blinded by the ashes, Tony was start-

tell us. Twenty years later, Tony
developed cancer. When I went to
visit him I brought along an empty
Electrolux bag. He almost laughed
himself to death just thinking
about what happened in the spring
of 1984.
His final wish was that he was to be
buried in one piece.

SARAH HANSON

Our group consisted of about six
old-timers (aged about 60, so who
knew-that was old, then), all with
airplanes programmed to find the $50
hamburger.
One of our group was Ray Duie,
a well-known and respected aerial
photographer. Ray was then about
70 and an expert with a Hasselblad
camera for in-flight and topographic
shots. Ray would ride with one of
us and take photos as we tried to find
the perfect $50 hamburger every
weekend.
Ray became ill and passed away
a few months into 1984. He was
cremated, and his wish was to have
his ashes scattered over Long Island
Sound on a Saturday morning. Only
one of us had a Cessna 182 with a side
window, so our fellow pilot Tony V
accepted the task.
On a bright Saturday morning,
Ray's family met us at the airport.
Ray's widow came with a priest, and

ing to lose control of the 182 when he
put on the autopilot to level the wings.
I was off his right wing and could see
he was in trouble, because the entire
inside of the cabin was the swirling
remains of Ray Duie.
After a bit, everyone calmed down,
and we managed to return to the airport. I asked for an alternate runway
that would take us to the other side of
the field, away from Ray's widow and
family.
Once down we hightailed it to the
nearest FBO on the opposite side of the
field. When the 182 door opened, we
saw that the interior of the cabin and
all three pilots were covered in Ray's
remains. Luckily, the FBO had an old
Electrolux vacuum cleaner handy, and
as Tony and crew cleaned themselves
off, I proceeded to vacuum up what
was left.
Almost an hour later we finally had
the inside of the 182 and the crew
cleaned.
The cremains were now in an Electrolux bag sitting on the cabin floor of
the 182. We taxied back to our FBO and
the waiting priest, family, and friends.
Tony and the others were still too
choked up to speak, so I told everyone
that Ray was in a better place. After lots
of tears and hugs, everyone left except
Tony and me.
I never did find out what Tony did
with Ray's ashes, for he would never


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Flight Training - August 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - August 2014

Contents
Flight Training - August 2014 - Cover1
Flight Training - August 2014 - Cover2
Flight Training - August 2014 - Contents
Flight Training - August 2014 - 2
Flight Training - August 2014 - 3
Flight Training - August 2014 - 4
Flight Training - August 2014 - 5
Flight Training - August 2014 - 6
Flight Training - August 2014 - 7
Flight Training - August 2014 - 8
Flight Training - August 2014 - 9
Flight Training - August 2014 - 10
Flight Training - August 2014 - 11
Flight Training - August 2014 - 12
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Flight Training - August 2014 - 19
Flight Training - August 2014 - 20
Flight Training - August 2014 - 21
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Flight Training - August 2014 - 25
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Flight Training - August 2014 - Cover3
Flight Training - August 2014 - Cover4
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