Escambia County, Florida, USA – On any given “dark of the night,” international drug runner Freddie Crow would be in the location he most enjoyed: in the air, flying over international waters, but below the radar, a stolen plane loaded to near overflow with marijuana. That’s what got him into trouble with the law in the State of Florida- and how he made the acquaintance of a man of faith, Special Agent Supervisor Ed Hudson. Hudson would become, at first, Crow’s arresting officer, then his encourager to become an informant for the DEA, and, later, after Crow’s death, his biographer, penning the book that Crow had been thinking about writing before time caught up with him.
Along the way, Ed Hudson was also Freddie Crow’s spiritual mentor: Hudson ministered to Crow as he returned to faith in Jesus Christ- no small thing since Crow’s hunger for excitement was perfectly fed during his often dare-devil small aircraft flights to exotic places like Belize, Central America. Hudson outlines, often in comic detail, how Crow survived many near-misses with death and injury via overloaded planes, loss of “important goods” that needed to be left wherever they might land (once, in the limbs of a local tree), and other calamities in attempts to make the most profitable runs for his clients and team. Crow’s understanding of “customer service” trumped his understanding of his own safe passage: while he was paid only a base rate for his services as aeronautical “wheel man”- including keeping safe his life!- his clients could profit exponentially from whatever goods each successful air passage might yield. But the thrill was the thing. Shifting to a life of humble lawful service and away from a life of crime that provided an unparalleled adrenaline rush was no quick-and-easy thing. The reader will laugh and, perhaps, even cheer, throughout the retelling of the now-deceased Crow’s life that afforded narrow escape from death in so many risky situations. However, there’s a much bigger story being told here.
“This book is also the story of opposing sides coming together as if directed by God,” Hudson says in his introduction. As he describes, once Crow determined to quit his life of crime, Crow grew in his belief in Jesus Christ and the saving grace God bestows upon anyone- no matter what they have done- if they only ask.
Hudson goes into great detail about how, in bringing certain people back into his life, Crow found himself the perfect helpmate: his beautiful, inside and out, wife, Sandra. The reader will laugh as Hudson shares how Crow won Sandra over- despite her disdain for his prior life of crime. The reader will perhaps laugh even more as Hudson describes how Crow discerned the need for and went about his special practical jokes to win over Sandra’s mother, a God-loving woman who wanted no one with a background like Crow’s coming near her daughter, much less marrying her. Spoiler alert: as demonstrated by the unique bond formed between Hudson and Crow, God works in the most mysterious of ways!
The cover of Hudson’s book is beautifully decorated with a hand drawing of Freddie Crow done by his widow, Sandra’s son, Michael. Fittingly, in the background, Michael has also drawn in a biplane.
As the Crow Flies, we are told, is the story that Crow would have liked to tell, himself. In fact, he’d been encouraged many times by other people to “write that down,” and had been gathering writing references before his death by cancer so that he might undertake writing his memoir. At Crow’s remembrance service, others attending encouraged Hudson to pick up this mantle.
At once a memorial, a biography, and a true crime report made in the tone and with the words of an officer of the law, As the Crow Flies is a read that crosses many categories. Hudson’s work includes amazing accounts of Crow’s exploits, heart-warming stories about Crow’s turn of heart toward the Lord, and one absolutely unforgettable testimony.
As Hudson looks back on his time with Freddie Crow in his life, he shares the words in Romans 3:10– appropriate for anyone who might make judgment upon another person’s path to the Lord: “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Excerpts from As the Crow Flies: At page 23:
“With Freddie’s’ new interest in marijuana, he found that the faces of his friends began to change. Bobby Simpson, who earned a degree in education and became a teacher in the Escambia County School District,told Freddie that he couldn’t be a part of what he was doing with drugs, so they also separated from each other.
Freddie replied, “That’s okay. I don’t even know why I’m doing it. I know it’s wrong.”
Freddie started out small like all other people in the business, but his involvement soon increased. Through a friend of a friend, Freddie connected to a supply source in El Paso, Texas. His enterprise, which started with small baggies of marijuana, had evolved into hundreds of pounds of compressed marijuana bricks that were individually wrapped in the trunk of a car…”
and at Page 138-139:
“Grief may be handled in different ways, but in the South, it’s met with food. Tricia brought cakes. Cousin Linda brought boiled peanuts. Covered dishes came from all directions. It’s just a different way to say “I care,” and I love you.”…Decisions had to be made. Chris Golden, son of the Oak Ridge Boys’ William Lee Golden, and his cousin Ron Golden would provide the music and sing… Sandra also asked Ed to speak… Ed closed with the story of the prayer that he and Freddie shared just before he went to the hospice house and how, at the end, Freddie beat his chest with tears streaming down his cheeks saying, “I can feel God in me.” He told the crowded chapel that he took comfort in that, and he hoped they did as well…”
Text ©2020 Michele Caprario
Images supplied by author, Ed Hudson, and used with permission
As the Crow Flies: The Redemption of an International Drug Smuggler
A True Story by Ed Hudson
Storehouse Media Group
Kindle: $7.99 Trade Paper: $14.99