Category Archives: Aviation

5 Weeks to Go!

February is winding down and winter is dragging on.  But the days are getting longer and we can see light at the end of Alaska’s long winter tunnel.  It is 10pm as I start typing this and Tanis woke from his couch nap with too much energy.  He is out snow blowing in the dark with our new snow blower in front of the neighbor’s hangar.  Hope Pat isn’t trying to sleep…

The past week,  we have seen some pretty cold temperatures for Yakutat.  Two weeks of nights getting to around zero,  with daytime highs scratching just under 20.  That is Fahrenheit,  for our friends over-seas…  Hard to complain too much with what is happening throughout the rest of the country right now,  except Florida…  Frightening to see what happens when Alaska weather hits Texas…  Our thoughts and prayers are with you down south.  You should burn more of your own oil for power and heat.

The past several days have been a lot warmer,  with temps getting into the low 30’s.  Had some rainish sleet on the 17th and 18th,  but back to snow now.  The ramp has a couple inches of fresh snow since the DOT plowed the pavement clear,  on top of a half inch of polished ice.  What a mess.  But no snow pile…  DOT keeps building it up,  then taking it down.  Last year,  we had so much snow that the pile knocked our internet out in early March,  not to come back again until late April.  “Fortunately” the fly shop was mandated closed,  so we didn’t have to process credit cards via the non-existent internet.  They are doing what they can to limit the impact on us this year and it is greatly appreciated.

So…  the river is frozen solid at 9 Mile,  with a thick sheet of ice as far up and downstream of the bridge as you can see from it.  We have about 2 feet of snow depth in the open,  with not much in the trees.  The road to the river is plowed and easily navigable,  so no real risk of that being an issue come April.  Or not much of a risk…  Because of the cold snap,  we have thick ice on the lakes now and getting an insulating layer of snow on top of that will keep the lakes colder even as the warmth starts to creep into the air.  Still not a lot of total snow,  but enough.

After saying it was looking like another warm winter and therefore early steelhead run,  we are now back to an on-time run with our current conditions.  March is just around the corner and we are definitely NOT at risk of the run showing up anytime soon.  We can breath a sigh of relief,  knowing whatever happens with the number of people allowed to enter Alaska from the outside,  their timing will be relatively in line with the fish coming in.  My guess is we’ll see a LOT of Alaskans coming this year after being forced to take last year off,  and out-of-state travel will be less than half of what we’d expect on a “normal” year.

Tanis has been busy with the snow blower ever since it arrived on ACE Air Cargo in January.  No snow,  but he was out practicing with it on bare pavement.  Now,  we have had some snow for a month to actually blow.  Keeping the path to the shop open by blowing all the snow into two piles in the parking lot that will undoubtedly still be there into May.  After the first real snow of the year,  he made a big pile about 40 feet long and 15 feet wide.  I already mentioned previously that some kids from town came out and helped mine dig a tunnel all the way through the middle from end to end.  Once night came,  they carved shelves into the snow and lit candles for a nice glow.

The second storm a couple days later brought a second big pile of white.  Tanis alone dig another snow cave,  but this time just made one entrance and hollowed out a big cavern in the center.  He insisted I had to spend the night out there with him,  but I politely declined,  as another storm hit that night with 60-70 knot winds blowing the entrance shut with more snow.  The sun came out the next day while he reopened the doorway and enlarged the cavern.  OK,  we put down a tarp floor and loaded it with pads and blankets.  Made a flap door with an old wool blanket and settled in for the night.  The first of the clear/cold nights dropped to 7 degrees.  Actually warm and comfortable inside!  With my old-man bladder (ya,  TMI…), I was up a couple times in the night.  The first time,  I poked my head back inside the flap and it was just as cold inside as it was out.  The second time,  I had accidentally woke Tanis,  so he lit a candle for me to see my way back in.  Opened the flap and my face was hit by an amazing warmth.  From ONE little candle!  What a difference!  It stayed lit for a while!

Now the rain this week has made the fort a couple feet shorter,  but the tunnels haven’t collapsed.  Can’t say I’m eager to spend the night out there again,  but it was a blast to camp in the yard with my little boy again,  even if he is 21 now.  Haven’t truly winter-camped with him since he was about 7.

We also had a great visitor – the Ozark Air DC-3.  They were bring the plane back up from Montana where it spent the past couple years after their last visit.  She was supposed to do some tourist flights down in the real world,  but then the world ended and she just sat.  On her way home to ANC,  she had some mechanical issues in Sitka,  so spent a couple months there getting fixed up and back in the air.  On their way over Yakutat,  the weather was going down in Anchorage and getting dark,  so they turned around and overnighted with us.

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This is a beautiful plane with passenger config,  galley and lav.  They are planning to do flightseeing tours around the Anchorage area as Golden Era Aviation,  in period uniforms once they get the FAA stuff all set.  Their website isn’t ready yet,  but I’ll let you know when it is…  These photos I stole from their preliminary site…

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OK,  Tanis just came back inside…  About 6-8 inches of new snow since 6pm when DOT left for the day.  Tomorrow is going to be a mess outside.  Glad to be working INSIDE tomorrow,  mudding and taping the holes in the downstairs bathroom ceilings.  Had to cut out access holes when I needed to replumb the water system with PEX several years ago.  Yes,  PEX can burst when it freezes,  contrary to what they say…  Getting a little more done on the hangar…  Trying to do SOMETHING every day,  no matter how piddly.  You eat an elephant one bite at a time and this hangar is like eating an entire herd.  Several herds…

Loss of a Legend

Olivia de Havilland passed away yesterday at the age of 104.  She is indisputably one of the greatest actresses of all time and one of the most beautiful.  Winner of 2 Oscars and roles in such great films as Gone with the Wind,  she is probably most famous for two things…

  1. In the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood,  she gets to ride Trigger,  before he became Roy Rogers’ costar and sidekick and…
  2. She visited Yakutat in 1943 touring Alaska military bases.

Her loss ends the great era of Hollywood.  No one left now.  And yes,  she was a relative to Geoffrey de Havilland,  founder of the de Havilland Aircraft Company-maker of the Mosquito, Beaver, Otter and many other great planes.

A Fresh Report from the Cabins

Good morning!  Just chatted with three guys who flew into the Forest Service cabins this week.  They did a LOT of hiking,  still had quite a bit of snow around and didn’t see any people at all the first couple days,  two driftboats on the 3rd.

They said the run seems a little weaker than what they are used to.  They only landed one chromer,  all others were dark over-winter fish.  Flows are still up around 300 CFS even after a week of hot sunny weather,  but not much spawning activity.  They saw a few fish paired up on the gravel flats,  but not many.

They flew down from ANC in their own plane and so had no contact with the community of Yakutat,  besides buying fuel from the self-serve pumps here at the airport.  That is legal.

They concurred that the run seems to be pretty late and a lot of good fishing is still ahead of us.  I’m supposed to put down the screw gun and pick up my fly rod tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Official State of AK COVID-19 Response

I should have uploaded this on a previous post…  Sorry for forgetting…  This is the official news release from the Governor’s office about what stems the State of AK is taking to restrict commerce…  I mean restrict the spread of COVID-19…

In PDF:

SOA COVID-19 Health Alert 9.1 and 9.2

TransNorthern Landing at Tsiu

Great video of the TransNorthern Super DC-3 landing at a very flooded Tsiu River.  Enjoy:

June 5th

I’m down in Sitka right now getting the annual done on the Cessna 206.  Was supposed to be done yesterday,  but we had to change out a cylinder and realign my rudder.  Otherwise,  everything else went smoothly.  But I’m still stuck in SIT.  Wasn’t planning to bring my laptop,  but with the D-Day events happening,  ya the laptop came.

I still have a few minutes of June 5th left way out west in Alaska.  The 5th was when those amazing young punks jumped out of thousands of C-47’s to secure roads,  bridges and approaches to the Normandy Coast to save the world from evil.  I already posted about the C-47 “Liberty” and have been following her flight from Denver to England.  Well,  it is the 6th now in Europe and “Liberty” is in France.  Here is a screenshot of her tracking since she arrived in England…

Liberty

A few days ago,  they flew down to the southern coast,  then back to Dukford Airport.  Yesterday when they should have been loading up paratroopers for the drop,  they flew around the local Dukford area.  Apparently,  the weather was terrible,  so they had to postpone the jump – not unlike the weather 75 years ago!  This morning,  they were in France at Caen.  Boy,  do I wish I was there with my other plane,  instead of here with the Cessna…

This has been a productive trip though,  as we have been discussing a plan to get our C-47 back in the air with my mechanics.  A year late,  but maybe this time it’ll happen.  They suggested a Go-Fund-Me page,  but I have no idea where to begin with that.  Anyone out there with some experience,  give me a call!  I need help with that.

A friend has been feeding me photos from the D-Day events and if it is OK,  I’ll post some below:

From the WWII Airborne Demonstration team from a FB post yesterday.

Overlord Update—75 year-ago-redux. If you’ve watched Band of Brothers you know the phrase, “No jump tonight.” That was the situation then and it was our situation today. Rain and high winds on the drop zone. And, so, we’re waiting. And, while we wait, we train! We turned today’s disappointment into a dress rehearsal for tomorrow, putting on our parachutes, adjusting our gear, practicing our safety procedures, going up on flights, and then adjusting to see how we can do it again even better. Things happen for a reason—if you’re willing to give them one. And, so we’ve done just that. Tomorrow’s forecast? It’s tough. And, it’s changing by the moment. If you’re a person of faith, we invite you to join us in prayer for dry calm conditions tomorrow with a high cloud ceiling. If prayers are not your approach, we welcome any good thoughts. Thank you for being with us through this. We’ll report tomorrow as soon as we know our status! Photos are of just a few of our members today. By Max Ipinza, Like Sharrett, and Andrew Kristopik #overlord19 #dday75 #daksovernormandy #DDay #Veterans

From the FB page for That’s All Brother Commemorative Air Force

“No livestream today, but there was this….a sight not seen for maybe 75 years…(photo by John Cyrier)”

No updates but I’ve seen where they have crossed the channel 3 hours ago. I’m sure this afternoon I’ll have some pictures and possibly videos to share.

I watched a video where somebody on the demonstration team said that the weather may be too bad for jumpers but they’ll still fly over the memorial at Normandy. Not sure what is going on at the Moment.

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Wow!

D-Day 75th

Well,  so much for me taking time off from the blog…

I can’t let this one go though…  The 75th anniversary for D-Day is coming in two weeks.  I have been following the “Daks Over Normandy” events and it is a little heartbreaking to see our actual D-Day survivor trapped in the hangar.  She deserves to be flying to England right now!

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Original June 6th newspaper from the collection…

“Daks Over Normandy” (https://www.daksovernormandy.com) will see about 50 DC-3’s and C-47’s gathering in England,  then on June 5th,  they will load up 250 round chute paratroopers and deliver them over the original drop zones.  More than a dozen planes are enroute right now from the US with stops in Goose Bay  Canada,  Narsarsuaq Greenland,  Reykjavik Iceland and Wick in Scotland.  Many of them are just DC-3’s with no war history,  while N91314 sits here in Yakutat…

Legend Airways “Liberty” is a C-47 delivered to the Army Air Force exactly one year after our baby began her service.  They served side-by-side in Oran,  Algeria with ours arriving at the base March 22nd,  1943 and “Liberty” arriving August 17th,  1943.  They both served together in North Africa,  Sicily and Normandy.  They are truly “sisters” in every sense,  so “Liberty” is the plane I’m living vicariously through…

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N25641,  serial number 9059 built in Long Beach and delivered to the Army February 11th,  1943.

So…  a friend of mine sent me a link to the GPS tracking page as “Liberty” flies to Europe.  Hope it is OK if I post this publically David!

https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/legendairwaysdc3

“Liberty” is resting tonight in Iceland and will be in the UK tomorrow.  I took some screenshots of the flight path earlier today,  as they were exactly half-way between Greenland and Iceland.

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Started in Denver a few days ago.  Had to spend a few nights in Iowa City when the left engine began backfiring and they needed to do some repairs.  Glad that didn’t happen out over the empty North Atlantic!!!

Well,  I’ll be keeping her on my screen throughout the next couple weeks and then for her flight home.  Keeping her and the others in our thoughts and prayers,  as they honor one of the pinnacle events of the 20th Century.  Honoring those brave men (and a few women) who went to war to battle true evil,  so that we could live in freedom.  We owe them so much.

Here is one of our posters from the museum collection:

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One of our posters from the museum collection…  Seems appropriate with the artwork showing a C-47 dropping paratroopers.

Rough Day Around Here

Started off busy with plane after plane needing fuel.  Two float planes down at the harbor that we needed to pick the pilots up,  drive them to the airport,  fill their jugs,  then take them back.  Unfortunately the second plane flipped over on take-off and is now upside-down in the bay.  No one was hurt,  but what a terrible day.  Gorgeous sun.  That’s Yakutat’s 3rd crash this year.

And with all this bright sun,  I imagine the fishing is a little slow.  Water is now dropping to the point of thinking we need some rain already!  No fresh reports today,  since the fly shop is closed this year on Sundays,  but someone a couple days ago on his way out said it was the best trip is group has had in 4 years.  Considering what last year’s run was like,  that’s a pretty awesome report.

DC-4 Follow-up

My uncle sent me an e-mail after I posted the DC-4 photos:

Saw your Blog on the DC4. Your Dad was a crew chief on DC4s in Germany. Talked to childhood neighbor Bill Peterson last week. He said that Doug told him that the DC4s still had coal dust from the Berlin Airlift.

I wasn’t sure what aircraft my dad was in in these photos,  but now I know it is a DC-4.

My dad passed away when I was 17.  As a punk kid,  I had no interest in history,  so I never ever asked him about his time in the Air Force.  Bummer,  since now I’m the president of a WWII museum (in the making).  Nice to get little glimpses into the past now,  since I missed my real opportunity to learn more.  Thank you Ron,  for sending me neat info like this.

Through this terrible sockeye season,  I had more hangar tours than fishing customers through the shop.  I had been hoping to get our DC-3 airworthy again in time for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day next June,  but it is looking like I’m about a year behind in doing that.  Oh well.  She is a D-Day survivor and deserves to be airborne for that.  Maybe the 76th instead…

A Wild Night for Horizon Air

So…  a couple hours ago,  an employee named Rich stole a Horizon Q400 at Sea-Tac and went for a joy ride flight.  He took off,  did a loop,  realized fighter jets were coming after him and so he nose-dived the plane into the water.

Teen and I met at Sea-Tac working for Horizon Air.  She spent 7 years,  I spent 6 years working there.  Me as a ramper,  Teen at first as a ticket agent,  then she moved to the ramp to spend more time with some guy…  Then she got over that and moved into Operations.

I fondly remember my first night shift.  Loading a Metro III for Pullman,  a box split open and white powder started leaking out.  I was about to mention it to my trainer when I saw that a box of lab mice also split open in the plane.  We just closed the door and sent the flight on its way.  Let them deal with the coked-up mice in Pullman.

Rod,  our pilot friend who ferried the DC-3 up to us flew for Horizon,  as did my brother-in-law.  My mom also worked for Horizon for a couple years at corporate.  I can’t imagine a suicidal moron stealing a Q400 and crashing it 50 miles away in Puget Sound.  Unbelievable.  Close to home…

Here are a couple articles,  oddly enough from the UK…

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/11/seatac-airport-seattle-plane-takes-off-without-permission

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1002039/seattle-airport-airspace-closed-seatac-airport-washington-usa