Tag Archives: flying

Busy Airport Season?

Fairbanks International Airport

Like the cruise industry, the air travel industry is also predicting more tourists into Alaska, and especially, Fairbanks in 2022. It should be noted here that Fairbanks is not a major travel destination for Alaska. We tend to be a bit of an afterthought, which is fine by most of us.

The Fairbanks International Airport announced that several carriers will return to Fairbanks after a 1-2 year hiatus. United Airlines will return with a non-stop flight to/from Chicago. Delta Airlines will add additional flights with Seattle and Minneapolis. Alaska Airlines will bump flights to Seattle to 5; and service to Anchorage will increase to 8 flights.

Sun Country will return with Saturday flights between Fairbanks and Minneapolis, and Condor Air will return to Fairbanks after two years, with direct, weekly flights to Frankfurt, Germany. Air North will once again be flying between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, YT.

The list of small airlines and charters flying into remote Alaska is extensive.

Unfortunately, one can expect flight costs to soar.


Getting Antsy


Cold Weather Concorde

The Concorde in Fairbanks, Alaska; February 1974

In the winter of 1974, the Concorde went through cold weather testing in Fairbanks.

Since WWII, Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Cessna, Eurocopter, General Electric, Gulfstream, Honeywell, Sikorsky and many other aircraft companies have tested in Fairbanks. With an 11.800 foot runway, which can handle any aircraft, an airport that rarely features a delay, and plenty of wide open air space, Fairbanks is ideal when the temp drops to -40.

It wouldn’t be a photo op in Fairbanks without a team of dogs


Holidaze Travel

The Aurora Winter Train, Alaska Railroad Depot; Fairbanks

I had several friends travel Outside over the Holidays, while I was quite content to enjoy the cabin life in Fairbanks. Getting out wasn’t the problem. It was getting back to Alaska which has proved challenging. Most friends had layovers in Seattle, which were long enough to officially be reclassified as detours. One had a detour in Anchorage; getting oh so close to Fairbanks, but yet divided by a mountain of snow.

Two friends attempted to travel from Arizona to Fairbanks. There was a detour in Seattle, followed by a last minute flight to Anchorage. A second detour was then encountered. All flights between Alaska’s largest cities were booked out for days. Determined to get home, they booked a ride on the Alaska Railroad. I was excited for them, probably more excited than they were. I have never ridden that set of rails in the winter.

Out of the blue, I received a text from them. They were in Denali Park. “How long is this ride?” they asked. I hesitated, but eventually told them it was a 12 hour trip. One way. The Alaska Railroad is not high speed travel.

Late on New Year’s Day, I get a call. Taxis from the depot are three hours out. It’s -35F, but I head out the door to provide pickup/limo service.

The locomotive did look good, all decked out in Christmas lights.


Denali by Alaska Air


Tundra Travel

Film Friday:

Newtok, Alaska

We were in the calm between the storms when I took this photo. It gives a good look at life on Alaska’s tundra. The airstrip for the village is in the background, with the hanger, housing the grader/snowplow, on the horizon. A plane had not been able to land for several days, and it would be several more before one came in. People were going about their business: walking or riding a four wheeler or snowmachine. Dogs roamed about, on their own personal business, as well. “Bear”, my seemingly constant canine companion, was sitting in the snow at my side, taking in all the action with me.

Camera: Widelux FVI; Film: Kodak 35mm, Tri-X400


Newtok Power

The village of Newtok, Alaska

Some regular readers may remember that I was out in the village of Newtok in February. I truly enjoyed my time there, and have great memories of the area, but especially the people.

Newtok is currently in the middle of a move. The village is under siege from the very water that gives it life. Due to the warming of the Arctic, ground is giving way, and Newtok is getting it from every direction. On one hand, the river is laying claim to huge chunks of land, taking homes with the shoreline. On the other hand, the ground is giving way to the melting permafrost, and water is filling in the gaps. In February, approximately one third of the population had moved across the river to the new location of Mertarvik, but it is going to be a long and complicated process.

Newtok made the news again this past week, when word made it around Alaska, that the generator that powers the village broke down, leaving the residents without power for an entire month. A month. In an age when most of us think about power very briefly, when we flip a switch or pay the electric bill, it’s good to remember that not everyone lives in such a situation.


Looking at the village from the air in the summer, it’s an entirely different world than when I was there in February. The contrast is stunning, so I thought I’d share a few more “winter” pictures of my time in Newtok.

Newtok on my flight in.

Walking the village of Newtok; Camera: Widelux

Newtok arrival

Will Rogers & Wiley Post

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Will Rogers & Wiley Post in Alaska

In August of 1935, Will Rogers and his pilot, Wiley Post, flew throughout the then Territory of Alaska.  Post, a well known aviator, would fly the Lockheed Orion-Explorer, while Rogers pounded out newspaper columns on his typewriter.

They left Fairbanks on August 15 for Barrow.  Encountering terrible weather, they managed to find a break in the fog, and landed their floatplane on the waters of Walakpa Bay, and asked some Inupiat hunters where they were.

“15 miles from Barrow.”

Post & Rogers returned to the plane, and took off.  At an altitude of approximately 50 feet, the engine died, and the plane nosed-dived into the lagoon.  The engine was driven back into the cabin, and crushed Post.  Rogers was thrown from the plane.  Both men appeared to die instantly.

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The wrecked Lockheed after the crash

Will Rogers was easily the most recognized and beloved celebrity at the time of his death.  His columns were read by an estimated 40 million people, and syndicated in over 600 newspapers.

Post was a famed aviator, and the two men had planned on flying across the Bering Sea to Siberia after their stops in Alaska.  A Trans-Siberian flight on to Moscow was also part of the agenda.

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Memorial to Rogers & Post at the Pioneer Air Museum

Two metal crosses were constructed to honor both Post and Rogers.

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The crosses were deemed too heavy to transport by air from Fairbanks to the crash site near the Walakpa River, and approximately 11 miles from the community of Barrow.

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The crosses are displayed at the Pioneer Air Museum in Fairbanks.

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A marker and monument that stand near the crash site

 

 


Water Scooper

Film Friday:

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Incoming

 

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Liftoff

 

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Heading back to the fire

Last summer, back in the days when I was volunteering to self-isolate, I was out at a lake cabin and happened to see a wildfire gets its start from lightning.

The following day, a pair of water scoopers showed up at the lake.  They would fly overhead, bank around the lake, skim across the top of the lake, picking up their load of water, then take off again to fly back to the fire.  The two aircraft made the roundtrip from fire to lake to fire, all day long.

Camera: Leica M3; Lens: Leitz 135mm; Film: Fujichrome, 35mm, Velvia100 

 


Flying PenAir

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PenAir’s Saab2000

I flew out to King Salmon on PenAir, also known as Peninsula Airways.  I’ve always liked PenAir and their Saab 2000’s, although the airline is now under the Ravn banner.  The twin engine turboprop usually offers a smooth ride out to some of Alaska’s more remote locations.

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The Alaska Airlines & PenAir terminal at King Salmon, Alaska

We landed in King Salmon, and drove over to Naknek.  This is fishing country, both commercial & sport.  Salmon is king here.  Anti Pebble Mine signs were everywhere.  No surprise that the fishing communities did not want to see the world’s largest open pit mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

We located our accommodations for our stay, only to find out that there was no heat in the building.  Only in Alaska would the proprietor think that heat was an option.  After scouring Naknek, we ended up back in King Salmon for our room & board.

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Inside the Saab2000

Sitting in the emergency row on the Saab2000 does not really offer much of an advantage.  It definitely cuts down on the view.