Did Whiskey Fox keep South Florida safe from Hurricane David in 1979?

Storm clouds on Las Olas beach

This is a lovely story. A little bizarre, that’s true, but cute nevertheless. On August 31st 1977 Bill Freedman, a government hurricane hunter, logged eleven flights across the eye of Hurricane Anita – a 165 mph storm. He described it as ‘a piece of cake’. Bill loved being in the eye of a hurricane to the extend of saying to his wife ‘when I die, make sure you scatter my ashes in a hurricane”. No-one had flown in hurricanes as often as Bill – four hundred flights over a twenty year career – and his code name was Whiskey Fox.

In 1978 Bill died, just a few days after the start of the hurricane season. His boss and long-time friend, James McFadden, waited for the right hurricane. Amelia, Cora, Ella, Greta and Kendra all swept by but Mc Fadden didn’t consider any of these hurricanes wild enough for his friend.

The following year, he studied Anna, Bob and Claudette but they weren’t right either. Then along came Hurricane David. With its 150 mph winds, Mc Fadden considered it to be suitable for Bill’s final hurricane ride. In the early hours of August 31st, 1979, he took the urn containing Bill’s ashes to a bar and had a beer. “It was my last drink with Bill” he said “He was a beautiful person”.

A few hours later an Orion P3 aircraft took off from Miami Airport to Puerto Rico where the hurricane was in full flight. It went to the eye of the storm and underneath the plane, a box was opened that swirled the ashes of Bill Freedman into the eye. Aboard were friends and colleagues to say goodbye. Later they called Bill’s widow to tell her that all had gone well and she said that she felt safe now and that her husband’s ashes would protect her from the storm that was heading straight for Florida. Evacuations were taking place and devastation was expected.

On Labor Day, 1979, David slid up the Florida coast but caused no mayhem in South Florida. Experts said that they couldn’t explain why the hurricane had veered away from its course. Mrs Freedman could – she was sure that it was her husband’s ashes that had kept South Florida safe.

Posted by Las Olas Boulevard in : History News,

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  • LAS OLAS BOULEVARD

    Las Olas Boulevard - there's no other place quite like it. Las Olas offers you the very best in dining, antiques, shopping, fashion, the arts, history and much more.

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    Las Olas Boulevard is located just seconds from the beautiful Fort Lauderdale beach and enjoys the wonderful South Florida weather. When you visit us on the boulevard, why not come by boat? The Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi will bring you right here.

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    We have lots of special events which take place throughout the year and some of the nicest people you'll ever wish to meet are right here. If you're planning a destination wedding, there's no better place.

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    The boulevard has a lot of history too. Stay at the Riverside Hotel - built in 1936, or visit the Stranahan House Museum and see where Fort Lauderdale itself began. Enjoy breakfast, at any time of day or night, in the historic Floridian diner. See the Elbo Room, the place featured in Where the Boys Are - the iconic Spring Break movie made in 1960.

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    Las Olas Boulevard has something to suit all tastes, all ages and all budgets. Dance the night away or enjoy a quiet drink in a relaxing bar. Experience fine dining in one of our many restaurants, or grab a pizza, sandwich, panini or salad. Enjoy cuisine from all over the world right here. And don't miss the treats we have for you - chocolates, ice creams, frozen yogurts, candies, pastries - all made right here on Las Olas. Eat at a sidewalk café, people-watch, visit our world-class museum of art, take the kids to the science museum for a day of fun, sit and watch the water traffic go by on the New River ... there's so much to do.

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    Shop for the finest goods - and bargains too. Our stores sell everything from diamonds to dresses, from gowns to garlic bread!

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    We have all your needs taken care of on Las Olas. We have a pharmacy, dry-cleaners, a deli, dressmakers, gifts, quality cigars ... in addition to pampering services if you're looking for a massage, a manicure or a magnificent haircut. We even have our own Sunday farmers' market.

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    We haven't forgotten the business traveler. If you're in Fort Lauderdale for business, you'll find every service you need on the boulevard and what better place to work? Many of our restaurants have free wifi so you can check your email and write your blog as you sip an Italian coffee and enjoy a snack in a sidewalk café.

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    We'll look forward to seeing you on Las Olas!

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