Category Archives: Aviation

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

 

Visitor Today

The weather lightened up today,  making it possible for Alaska Air Fuel to fly in and take on a load of diesel for Icy Bay.  They parked in front of the hangar while Delta Western pumped fuel into their big internal bladder.

A gorgeous classic Douglas DC-4,  N96358 was built in 1944 and delivered to the USAAF in WWII.  Couldn’t really glean too much about her history on my brief search,  other than she used to serve as a fire bomber/tanker in Utah.  A real beautiful plane!

And here is a DC-4 in Yakutat during the war…  Probably 1943 or 44.

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Back when I was a kid,  they would occasionally bring in a DC-4 to Dry Bay to fly fish out to market.  Usually a DC-3,  but on rare occasions a DC-4.  My memory seems to think it would have been mid to late 1970’s.  My DC-3 came to Yakutat in 1982 to fly fish out of Dry Bay.

Alaska Warbird in Smithsonian

A friend of ours lives down in Florida,  who’s grandfather served in Alaska during WWII with the RCAF.  She has a great blog that honors her granddad as well as the other men who fought and served during the Aleutian campaign.  Her link has been on the right side of my blog for several years under the “WWII Web Sites” box titled “Florida Beaches to the Bering Sea“…

This morning,  Karen e-mailed to say she had helped to find the true identity of the P-40 hanging in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum…  It was her grandfather’s plane!

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The Smithsonian just posted a story about the plane and its history on their website:

https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/unknown-history-curtiss-p-40e-lopes-hope

All I can really add is that I hope they repaint it someday to her original colors,  to honor the men who actually flew her instead of someone who didn’t…

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Overcoming Reputations

Yakutat is a truly incredible place.  Incredible fishing,  incredible mountains,  incredible glaciers…  even incredible surfing and many other “incredibles”.  But it is far from perfect.  One of our shortfalls has been in aviation and the services available here at the Yakutat Airport.

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Teen and I started Yakutat Aviation Services as a means to change our local reputation as being a black hole for services.  We have a reputation within the aviation community as a place to avoid and we have been lugging this rep around for decades. It isn’t any one business’ or person’s blame,  but a build-up of a lot of horror stories and dissatisfied pilot visitors.

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That said…  tonight we had a “Queen Air” stop in for fuel.  The pilot said he was planning to fly non-stop from Ketchikan to Homer without refueling,  but another pilot in Ketch told him what we are trying to do here and he decided to stop in and support us.  Bought 140 gallons of fuel that would not have been sold here had we not started YAS.

A year ago,  there was an article in AOPA Pilot magazine about flying the coast from Anchorage to Juneau.  They did NOT stop here,  but most of the photos illustrating their article were taken within the Borough.  OK,  they definitely stopped several times in Yakutat,  but they avoided the airport and didn’t spend a dime here.  In the “letters to the editor” in the following issue,  someone wrote that he understood how they wanted to avoid buying fuel in Yakutat…

I don’t want to point fingers at the old traditional supplier,  but they are principally a wholesaler and not a retailer.  They don’t provide retail “service”.  But that is what we are doing now.

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On my flight down to Juneau for my heart test,  the Alaska Airlines pilot came back to our row and handed me a magazine that featured a cover article he wrote.  Burke Mees is a neat guy,  although I don’t know him well.  He flies the CAF BT-13 up in Anchorage most weekends for tours in their great old WWII trainer.  I first met Burke a few years ago when he and another pilot burned through some of their ground time and walked over to the hangar from the AS jet.  I told them about what we were planning to do with the hangar and museum,  etc.

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This past spring,  Burke flew with the owners of an experimental “Gweduck” up to the Anchorage Airmen’s Show.  They stopped in at Yakutat for fuel briefly.  The Gweduck is basically a modernized kit Grumman Widgeon with all composite parts,  so landing in saltwater doesn’t corrode the hull.  Really neat plane.  Their stop in Juneau was featured as the headline front cover story on the Juneau Empire at the time.

Burke said he mentioned us in the article,  but to my surprise,  he does a LOT more than mere mention…

“YAKUTAT

For those of you who have made this trip,  you’ve probably avoided landing at Yakutat because of the imposing Mount Fairweather-sized gas prices that loom large on the horizon and cast a long shadow on the coast route.  I can report that this is no longer a problem.  Bob Miller recently started Yakutat Aviation Services,  and now prices are considerably lower for both 100LL and Jet A.  Bob is a local entrepreneur who lives with his family in the old WWII hangar on the field,  and he also owns the 1941 DC-3 in the hangar.

This airplane is a piece of history;  it started out as a military C-47 and saw wartime service in North Africa,  Sicily,  and over Normandy on D-Day.  After the war,  it spent a lot of time flying commercially in Alaska,  including with Cordova Airlines,  which later merged with Alaska Airlines.  The airplane’s story is written on its airframe in patched German bullet holes and corrosion from making Alaska beach landings.  Bob plans to use proceeds from the fuel sales to get the plane flying again.  If you’re in Yakutat you should make a point to check it out.”

How’s that for cool?!?!  Granted most of you have probably never seen or read Water Flying magazine (I know I hadn’t…),  but it is the bimonthly publication of the Seaplane Pilots Association and a really nice/interesting magazine.

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Nice to see we’re starting to make a difference.  Yet another weird risky thing Teen and I are doing in little ol’ Yakutat.

Here we Go Again

Although our 10 inches of rain from Monday to Wednesday didn’t happen,  we did get between 4-5 inches in the first round,  had a gorgeous sunny day today and now we have a new front moving in to dump another inch or more overnight.  They are calling for the rains to subside by mid-morning,  but we’ll see what actually happens.  It just started raining a few minutes ago,  to match the driving blustery winds we have had for several hours.  Here is the front moving in about an hour ago:

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We had 70+ degree temperatures all day today,  with a heavy muggy feeling.  The hangar bay dripped and sweated all day,  making everything drenched inside,  while it was gorgeous outside.  The tile in the bathrooms were sweating.  Tonight about 8pm,  the temp began dropping and we went outside to watch the front move in quickly.

The 9 Mile Gage stopped broadcasting at 830p tonight,  with a flow level still way up at 970 CFS,  down from over 1,200 this morning.  One sunny day doesn’t dry the ground out,  so tonight’s rain will definitely bring the rivers up high.  The (not good news,  but) better news is that it will dry out tomorrow and we’ll just have showers for the rest of the week.  If the forecasts are right and what are the odds…?

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It was a weird,  uncomfortable and anxious feeling day today.  If this was the mid-west,  it would have seemed like tornadoes were on their way.  Well,  at least we don’t have to deal with that stuff up here…

In the meantime,  I was supposed to send my mom some fish last month for her to take to my grandmother. They were planning to have salmon for lunch and I…  forgot.  OOPS!  So in honor of them and their missed lunch,  I made myself a fresh roasted sockeye fillet sandwich with my pesto sauce on it.  Yum!

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This is what they missed…  Extra sharp white cheddar and avocado slices topped it off.

And a little over a week ago,  we came back from Juneau in the 206,  with a DC-3 parked on the ramp.  Tanis kept asking me if he could take ours out of the hangar over and over and I told him NO.  What did he do???  OK,  just Trans Northern with a passenger flight.  He got to fuel it though and pull our DC-3 tow bar out and put it to use.  Here it is leaving the next morning:

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Trans Northern parked on the ramp with their similar color scheme to our N91314

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Waiting to taxi out,  with the Alaska Jet coming off at Alpha

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Ours is safe and sound in her bed

 

Well,  need to be up at 330am as usual,  so that’s all for tonight.  Stay warm and dry tonight.