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JUNE 30, 1997

Business

'Redhook saved my life'

Redhook ESB

Three Redhook ESBs.
Photo by Andrew Walgamott/Northwest News.

saved by beer by Andrew Walgamott
It's a good thing three friends didn't drink all their beer on a recent Colorado fishing trip because they needed their last three Redhook ESBs to land their plane when it developed landing gear problems last week.They didn't use the beer to drink a final round before crashing, but to pump the failing hydraulic system full of fluid.
   "I think it was the most unusual use of beer in the world," pilot Ben Cahan said afterwards. "Hydraulic fluid is one thing; beer is another."
   "Beer is a very versatile beverage," Redhook Marketing Director Nelson Jay confirmed.
   Cahan, a 33-year-old Los Angeles software company owner, and his two friends had spent a few days fishing at a high mountain lake near Boulder without much luck. Wednesday afternoon, they tossed their gear and a nearly empty cooler into their Cessna 210 and were returning home when their landing gear refused to go down.
   Radioing in the trouble, the trio circled the airport for an hour or so while mechanics on the ground wondered what to do. A belly-landing might've torn the propeller off and killed the passengers. Ambulances, sheriff's deputies, and fire engines gathered for the landing attempt.
   "It was a serious situation," Cahan said.
   Finally, a mechanic asked if they had any fluids in the plane. Cahan and friends remembered the three bottles of Redhook Extra Special Bitter in the cooler.
   "We looked like the Three Stooges in there," Cahan said, recalling his friend Tim pouring the ESBs into the hydraulic reservoir, while he hand-pumped the system. The other friend, Ben, was "scared out of his mind," Cahan said. "I would have thrown a case [of beer] in there," Cahan said.
   But by dint of beer, furious pumping, and a little luck, the nose gear came down just enough to attempt a landing. "I cut the engine, killed the master switch, and went for it," Cahan said.
   And the beer worked. The landing gear was far enough down that the propeller didn't catch and flip the plane. The three landed safely and the plane was only slightly damaged.
   "It was a streak of luck to have that beer," Cahan said.
   "We're thinking of giving the guy the MacGyver award," Jay said, after the resourceful TV character.
   Jay added that there were many uses for Redhook Ale Brewery products, including watercoloring and pancake mix.
   "We're going to add Cahan's story to our sales training manuals," Jay said.
   Redhook seems to have a customer for life.