The awards dinner concluding the Seventh Bahamas Flying Treasure Hunt was nearly as aerial as the event itself, thanks to Hans Groenhoff's cultivated concern with the menu. The guests, all well fueled with the bartender's equivalent of av-gas, enjoyed Shrimp Spitfire and Filet Mignon Concorde, Satellite Vegetables and Salad Red Baron, topped off with Parfait Whirlybird and Coffee Phantom. Only the wine—a Bordeaux Saint-Emilion—was non-aeronautical, but it had subtle wings of its own.
The winner of the first prize treasure, a lot on Long Island's Stella Maris Resort, proved to be Hal Roberts, 47, a lumber baron from Camden, N.J., who had been flying a Cessna P206. "I got 14 of the clues," he said in his slightly slurred acceptance speech, "and my wife Jerry got one and my brother-in-law got another one. That makes 16, hey? I won this race and I'm gonna stay here all night if you want me to."
No one actually wanted him to. After all, the real prizes of the Treasure Hunt had been collected long before the last plane touched down at Nassau—gathered at the nerve ends in high-G turns over Rudder Cut and Tarpum Head, or during those long, swift slides down the wind toward Hawks Nest Point or the Sail Rocks. The real first prize was a return to the wonder of flight, obtainable only in a light plane over beautiful but dangerous terrain. One thinks again of Saint-Exup�ry packing the airmail through the Andes in 1930: "He felt at ease up here, snugly ensconced. He passed his fingers along a steel rib and felt the stream of life that flowed in it; the metal did not vibrate, yet it was alive. The engine's 500-hp bred in its texture a very gentle current, fraying its ice-cold rind into a velvety bloom. Once again the pilot in full flight experienced neither giddiness nor any thrill; only the mystery of metal turned to living flesh.... So he had found his world again...."