Monday, August 11, 2008

Aviation Alaska-Style

After nearly two weeks in Alaska, I have realized the reason so many Riddle students head north once they graduate. To rack up their experience hours. There's just one helluva lot of general aviation going on up here in a state where the capital cannot even be reached by road. Remember, only 10 numbered highways (actually 11) in the 49th; you've heard of Nome ... of Barrow? No such thing as a road or railway heading in their direction. Boat, yes. Plane, the fastest route. Usually a single engine puddle jumper.

Often it's what's called a float plane up here in the land of much water (back in Jax, we called them seaplanes, but I doubt that these pilots would or could land in the rough seas hereabouts very often). Fairbanks Intl. Airport features a lagoon almost as long as its jet runway for the large numbers of these planes to land and berth.

This picture was taken at a flightseeing facility near Talkeetna; such planes may be chartered to get a view of Mt. McKinley (Denali) on those rare days when the cloud cover breaks. More likely they will carry tourists wanting to see the elusive grizzly bear. Below, another float plane charter business.

And what do those planes do in winter, when there's very little open water? Probably what they did in the old days -- trade in pontoons for heavy-duty skis.

Yesterday the SIL took me and the granddaughter out into the countryside to see the aeroplane graveyard. But first, we stopped across the road where the cheap tie-downs invite several line-ups of private planes (below). Note the spare set of pontoons.

At first, we didn't realize that the drive we were on led to a runway and we had to quickly move out of the way for this machine heading for a take-off.

Among the planes at the tie-down was this carcass and the former flyer below, in the midst of weeds. I'm guessing that there still was a future for them, since someone was probably paying the rent. Of course, perhaps the parts were being salvaged.

I wonder how often the gas-guzzler above unfolds its wings to take to the skies ... as a former US Navy plane built for aircraft carrier landings, it should work well in the Alaskan bush with its many small airstrips.

Once every useful part has been scavenged from yesterday's planes, here's where they might finish their days -- as hollowed out husks.

12 comments:

Catalyst said...

Granny J - I really appreciate these pictures and I'm sure my friends who formerly lived in Juneau to also. Thanks!

Catalyst said...

Or "do"! (When will I learn to proofread???!!!####)

Granny J said...

cat-A -- you suffer from the same problem as I!

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm on vacation with you guys! Great post!

Virtual vacationeer,

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

anon av -- and it's practically over; only two more days & then the long flight, if we don't have another volcanic ash cloud.

Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

The graveyard/s depicted herein are a far cry from those in in the Ariz. desert. I trust that your flight back will be uneventful--unless you wing your way over an active (tho not overly) volcano.

Hermano

Granny J said...

bro -- I presume you're speaking of that federal graveyard for military craft down, where?, by Tucson? As for the volcanos, they're all some 7-800 miles west of here, all three of 'em.

meggie said...

They seem rather sad, those old skeletons of once proud planes.
I dare not say too much about pollution?

RV-boondocker-explorer said...

Isn't it strange how interesting a plane looks with its snout missing!

Granny J said...

meggie -- all those modern husks and bones are somewhat sad, but what fascinates me is how those airplane remains have been completely hollowed out. Pollution? I wouldn't worry -- what's left is perfectly good metal that will return to ore someday.

boonie -- Agreed; the skeletons make a much more interesting subject than the complete, working machine.

Margaret Cloud said...

Great pictures, the one photo looks like a plane exploded, airplane grave yards are never pretty, just stopping by to say Hi.

Granny J said...

cloudy -- these graveyards, fortunately, were not full of wrecks, but of remains of planes past, which had given up parts and furnishings to help keep other planes in the air.

 
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