Looking back on the accident I had a total of 282 hours flying time. The insurance company’s representative told me that statistics show that around that number of hours is when first-time accidents are likely to happen and are quite common. They also say that a major accident usually only happens once. Our cub had a 150HP engine and I know now that a 160HP is much better at high altitudes. I made sure that our next cub was a 160HP. They say you fly a cub by the seat of your pants; you actually feel or experience the plane. This is so true. I believe to this day that with my experience and a 160HP engine and doing everything the same but with a little more finesse in my reaction, I would not have crashed. Every year I found myself landing in areas that I wouldn’t have the year before because of my experience. Experience in your flying environment is the most important part of becoming an exceptional pilot.
It was about a month after the accident that Paul Claus, who was flying for us at that time, was flying me back to Chitina. He asked me when I was going to fly again. I told him I wasn’t sure. He said he thought it was time and landed on a sandbar on the Chitina River. He got out and said for us to trade places. He told me that he had had a few accidents and if the plane hadn’t caught fire I could have flown it out. He climbed in the back seat and said, “Let’s go.” I think that take-off was scarier than my first solo take-off. When I greased the landing at Chitina Paul said, “You’re ready.”