Monday, February 1, 2010

Aero Sleighs on Drummond Island . . .

as told by George A. Litchard

To give you a better idea of how our winter fun worked, it went like this: We carried two of three hounds with us and we would circle one of the smaller islands (in Potagannissing Bay) and look for fresh coyote tracks. (Coyotes frequently travel over the ice) Finding tracks, we would turn the hounds loose and run the sleighs out about half a mile offshore (usually 2 or 3 sleighs), shut down the engines and wait for the hounds to drive the coyotes out onto the ice.

We then chased down the coyotes in the sleighs and shot them. The real fun was the waiting. Frequently it was 20 to 40 degrees below zero with a nice gentle breeze out of the north at about 40 knots. (We didn't know about "chill factors" then. If we had, we probably would have all frozen to death.) After a refreshing wait of half an hour to an hour, you beat your brittle little frozen body some more by launching yourselves across rough ice at speeds approaching Mach-1. No, the sleighs did not have heaters, and frostbite was something that only a sissy got.
The fact that we were actually killing quite a few coyotes (for which the state paid bounty) and, the general population was still of the opinion that all coyotes, wolves, foxes, and birds of prey should be exterminated by whatever means necessary, must have kept the Department of Conservation from locking everybody up when this stuff was published all over the country. After I became a Conservation Officer, I learned that they, the Conservation Department, had quite a "file" on me, as well as on our particular idea of winter sports. I was frequently reminded of it, too.
The Wing Aero Sleigh was designed & built by Blain Wing in St. Ignace, Michigan in the 1940s
More photos of these amazing machines can be found at this link:

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