Tag Archives: Alaska Warbird Museum

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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.

The Ambulance

As we approach Independence Day this week,  maybe it is a good time to reflect on the miracle of being born in this country and the freedom espoused in the Declaration of Independence.  And of the debt owed to so many who have fought so that that freedom remains after more than 200 year.

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From our propaganda collection

 

Sitting out in front of the hangar in our parking lot is an Army ambulance.  Not WWII era,  but rather a 1967 Viet Nam-era vehicle.  This ambulance came to Yakutat as surplus and served as our first official EMS vehicle.  As a kid,  I remember it parked in the brush just about 100 yards from where it sits now.  It unfortunately rotted away in the weeds for a long time and is far too gone to be restored.  Although it is a neat decoration for the hangar,  she is in a real sorry shape.

Last year,  there was a huge armory auction down in California.  Among the various Shermans and artillery was a 1967 Army ambulance exactly like ours.  They had estimated its value to be between $5,000 and $10,000.  I fantasized about buying it and secretly one night swapping it out with our derelict version and then wait to see how long it would take anyone to notice.  Unfortunately,  the bidding got out of hand and it ended up selling for a whopping $65,000!  Oh well.

Today,  I stumbled upon a find…  A nice drivable 1967 Army ambulance.  Not restored,  but preserved in relatively good shape.  It is OUR ambulance!  The seller wants $14,750 for it.  No idea how to get it from Virginia to Seattle for the barge trip to Yakutat…  Would make for a fun road trip and there are “bunks” in the back you can sleep in!

https://classiccars.com/listings/view/1083719/1967-jeep-military-for-sale-in-lynchburg-virginia-24501

Unfortunately this isn’t to be…  We’re still trying to get out from under the fuel facility debt,  so this year doesn’t have any extra cash for artifacts,  no matter how cool they may be.  Oh well.  Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm.  Although if anyone out there needs a tax deductible donation for their taxes…

Here are a few more of our original propaganda posters…  Tried to give you a variety…

Alaska Warbird Museum Posts

For those of you who would like to continue to follow what is happening with the hangar renovation and the Alaska Warbird Museum,  I’m separating that from the regular blog and it’ll have it’s own HomePage and blog.  Feel free to go to www.akwarbirds.org to stay in the loop with that.  You can easily subscribe to new blog posts and updates there.

In the meantime,  we are one week away from our 75th anniversary celebration and fly-in/air-show.  Commemorating the grand opening of the Yakutat Army Air Base.  They spent a year building it to be an advanced bomber base for a war we were not in and had their grand opening 3 months before Pearl Harbor…  What did we know and when did we know it…?

Tentatively scheduled to appear – Alaska Air National Guard,  a 1941 Navy Grumman Goose,  possibly 2 t-6’s giving rides and our Lt. Governor and weather depending,  we could see as many as 200+ aircraft flying into little ol’ Yakutat.  If that’s the case,  come see me completely melt down and collapse in a nervous breakdown!  If the weather is bad,  we could be having a quiet little family dinner in the hangar instead…

Events are scheduled to begin at noon Friday August 5th,  with hangar banquet dinner scheduled for 6pm.  Saturday morning starts early with Yakutat’s regular Fairweather Day celebration at Cannon Beach (home of our two 6″ Coastal Defense Guns).

Again,  new web site for the Alaska Warbird Museum is www.akwarbirds.org.

A HUGE Surprise about the Hangar!

I have been in this hangar,  tearing it apart and rebuilding for years now.  I thought In knew most of its major history,  but I was wrong!

A couple weeks ago,  a guy named Levi in Fairbanks contacted me asking if some photos from WWII he had were from Yakutat.  He e-mailed a batch and they were…  He acquired an album 4 years ago containing nearly 200 WWII photos most of which were taken here through the entire war.  One of them caught my eye as strange:

The completed ramp, Dauntless and PBYs and a hangar without windows

The completed ramp, Dauntless and PBYs and a hangar without windows

I LOVE the line of 7 SBD Dauntless Dive Bombers lined up in front of the hangar,  along with the two PBY Catalinas behind them.  But the hangar isn’t “right”.  I have seen photos during construction where the windows and siding were not installed,  but the ramp wasn’t paved at the time.  This photo shows all the windows from my office and the fly shop missing.  Later in the deluge of photos he sent,  there were two more showing a catastrophic fire that devastated this side of the building:

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I have never heard of any fire.  No one else I have talked to around here knew of a fire.  Renovating this side of the building has been easier because the walls were all covered with Masonite instead of the concrete/asbestos siding for the hangar bay and northeast side.  That is because this side had to be completely rebuilt a couple years after the hangar was erected.

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That must have been an incredibly intense fire,  to twist the “I” beams like they did and burn through the “unburnable” concrete/asbestos siding.  The damage lessens toward the fly shop end,  so the fire must have started right where the old ambulance is parked now.

Levi just received two batches of photos from a dealer in Massachusetts that are also from Yakutat.  The condition of these is pretty poor,  but remarkably both photographers took pictures of some of the same aircraft and events.  The album had come from Arizona.  I’ll be posting more of Levi’s collection shortly,  but the Great Hangar Fire was such a shock to learn about.  Figured I’d share that with you first…

B-24 on the Yakutat Airbase ramp

B-24 on the Yakutat Airbase ramp

Navy PBY with the hangar in the distance

Navy PBY with the hangar in the distance

My favorite plane!

My favorite plane!

A B-17 lumbering into a parking spot

A B-17 lumbering into a parking spot

Tools from the Past

Received a random box in the mail yesterday.  It had some old tools in it.  Reading the letter that accompanied it…

“He was a very generous man.  He said he would not need these tools and gave them to me later that year.  I used those lots and now feel they should be given to you as I think Doug would have given them to you if he knew what you were doing now.”

A small wooden box with some faded letters scratched into the lid

A small wooden box with some faded letters scratched into the lid

These are some aircraft tools my dad gave to the DC-3 pilot who brought N91314 up to Yakutat in 1982.  I’m reading his long letter and getting obviously a little emotional over it,  when a group of guys staggered into the shop yesterday.  I had to compose myself and pretend not to be a blubbering baby and talk fishing…  This has been quite a week!

"MILLER" scratched into the wood...

“MILLER” scratched into the wood…

Aircraft cable tension meter and three specialty wrench heads - and a lot of emotion

Aircraft cable tension meter and three specialty wrench heads – and a lot of emotion

My dad was a DC-3 mechanic in the Air Force (among other things) and passed away from cancer in 1986.  He gave these tools to Tom in 1980.

We’re Famous!

Well,  sort of…

"OOOH!  Look at the spinny thing up there!"

“OOOH! Look at the spinny thing up there!”

A friend came in on the morning flight from Juneau bearing the latest issue of the Capital City Weekly.  It features as the cover story – our museum efforts!  Woo,  hoo!  It is also available on their online site,  if you care to read it.  Or,  come see our “1 1/2 warbirds” sometime!  Here is the article link:

http://www.capitalcityweekly.com/stories/042915/new_1246292026.shtml

We’re a 501c3 non-profit as well,  so feel free to donate a WWII era plane,  or enough money to buy one any time the urge moves you…

Sig’s Passing

Sigurd Edwards passed away last night around 7pm Alaska Time.  This was not unexpected,  as he had been struggling for some time.  He passed at home,  with family and friends.

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Sig was Yakutat’s last remaining WWII veteran,  although that was but a tiny blip in his long life.  He had wanted to make it to his 90th birthday,  a feat he achieved by about a week.

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Rest Sig.  You leave a rich legacy behind and a large loving family.  The world was better because you passed through it.

Sig and Tina Edwards,  waiting for their Honor Flight trip to DC last spring

Sig and Tina Edwards, waiting for their Honor Flight trip to DC last spring