Scratch Mitchell [0:00:00]: It was at this purple hour as the sun was setting, and I saw Mount Baker in the distance. I said “Okay, boys, just tighten it up,” as we flew transits fairly loose, “tighten it up…I’m gonna take us over by Mount Baker.” The white snow was turning a light hue of purple. We apexed over the top of the mountain and slid, as a toboggan would, down the glacial moraine of Mount Baker in perfectly still air. We had enough energy accumulated that we slid out the base of the mountain over to Abbotsford as the sun continued to set. We pitched out without a breath of air or a bump.
There was something magical and so supple about what was going on that I pitched it out in almost perfect silence with the engines retarded. As we pitched out we split up in three groups of three, landed, and there was such perfect synchronicity amongst the nine pilots that day as if we were all in the same airplane. There wasn’t an inch of movement. There wasn’t one pilot that wasn’t moved by that, to the point where I got out of the jet and I walked over to my number two pilot and he said “that was one of the most amazing flights of my life.”
Here we do all these crazy things — in front of crowds and whatnot — and a simple flight with perfectly still air, at this purple hour, sliding down Mount Baker towards Abbotsford connected us all in a magical way in those airplanes. Those were the moments that I recall the perfect coalescence of team and craft; man versus machine, man versus himself all came together in that exact moment and that flight. It was absolutely beautiful.
We open our interview with Scratch Mitchell with his moving description of this once-in-a-lifetime flight. It’s just the beginning of a fascinating discussion of his life as aviator, actor and producer/director. (header photo: RCAF-ARC)
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