The Jeff Wise Blog

Terrible News

By the darkest of dark coincidences, I have just learned that the very evening I happened to put up a post about John Graybill he died, along with his wife Dolly, in a crash in bad weather near McGrath, Alaska. As I write this I have just found out the news and am in a state of shock. John was a controversial figure in his day but friend and foe alike were in awe of his flying abilities. When I met him in 2000 his outlaw days were behind him, and even his old sparring partners at Fish and Game seemed to think of him as a favorite uncle. I found him to be a natural-born storyteller and a kind, gentle soul. He and Dolly welcomed me into their lives with the warmth of family.

And yes, John was an amazing pilot. Spending a week with him, zipping over the Alaskan landscape at 30 feet, inspired me to get my own pilot’s license, and that in turn has changed my life in ways I can’t begin to tally.

Filed under: Aviation

4 Responses

  1. Todd Unruh says:

    How many times I have thought back to my great trip to John’s and another friends cabin over 9-11-01. Sitting at the very table you have pictured, listening to stories of the good old days and not knowing of the World Trade Center attacks. Getting to fly back to Anchorage with John and Holla when we were finally released to fly. I have always thought of that as the trip of a lifetime. Jeff, I still have the copy of your story of Last man flying laying on my desk. All I can say is that John and Dolly were together in the end. They will be missed.

  2. Jeff Wise says:

    Thanks, Todd, for sharing that memory.

  3. Mary Ann Thill says:

    We knew John and Dolly and thought they were wonderful people. My husband knew them better than I did. He visited them many times in their cabin near Lake Iliamna. I’m thinking that since it was obviously their time to go they were lucky that they went together and doing something they loved to do. They didn’t die in a nursing home after losing their dignity etc. They will be missed by their Kansas friends.

  4. Gary Fandel says:

    I, too, have known John and Doll for many years. We were nearly constant flying partners during the late 70’s and early 80’s. I just learned of their horrible crash yesterday and am still in a state of shock. I was in Anchorage this past Wednesday having my motorcycle serviced and thought of staying the night with them and reliving old memories, but they were not at home… little did I know they had already crashed that day and I would never see them again. A huge part of my heart goes with them. They are loved and admired by so many.

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Thinking About Fear & the Brain

If I find myself in a severe crisis, will I be able to keep it together? How can I control anxiety and panic? Is it possible to lead a life less bounded by fear? These are the sorts of questions that I'll be exploring in this blog, an offshoot of my book, Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, published on December 8, 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

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