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.