An Alaska Airlines 737 arrives behind a Cessna Skywagon. Fairbanks is one of the very few major airports where you’ll find a water runway immediately adjacent to a paved one. Sharp-eyed enthusiasts may have also noticed the nose of a DC-6 below the 737 – it’s mounted atop Pike’s Aviator Greenhouse & Sweets, and is one of several you’ll encounter exploring the area.
When you chat about Alaska with aviation enthusiasts, there’s no shortage of things to talk about; perhaps the mind-boggling volume of east-west cargo flowing through ANC, or the the world’s largest floatplane base next door at Lake Hood. Military buffs will know about the goodies at Eielson and Elmendorf, and civil aviation folks will lament the recent demise of Alaska Airline’s combis on the fabled milk run.
An Everts Air Fuel DC-6A getting loaded at Fairbanks. N7780B was built in 1957 and spent its early career hauling oil drilling components for the Hughes (yes, that Hughes) Tool Company. 63 years later, it spends its days hauling fuels, mostly diesel, to rural communities in Alaska.
What if you’d like to get a little farther off the beaten path? What if you’d like to see dozens of DC-6s in America’s northernmost boneyard? What if you’d like to spot seaplanes operating alongside commercial airliners? Well, you’d need to visit Fairbanks, of course! If you can’t make it up yourself, follow along as I share my recent journey.
Big network expansion out of LAX for American, with eight new destinations all starting June 2
On June 2, American commenced a major expansion of its route network, with 21 new nonstop routes this month. This includes 10 new destinations just from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), marking the largest expansion ever at LAX.
Thursday saw the largest number of inaugural flights, with eight ribbon-cutting ceremonies in Los Angeles that day, something the carrier had never done before in its history. I was invited to be part of the festivities and join the entourage, which included Jim Moses, the Managing Director (MD) for American at LAX. What does a day full of ribbon cutting ceremonies look like, you ask…?
My Alaska 737-400 Combi in Juneau, AK
For the past six years, I have gotten up early and headed down to Alaska Cargo, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, to welcome the first Copper River Salmon of the season. It has always been one of my favorite yearly events, but I was hoping to do something different this year.
When I was invited to fly up to Cordova, Alaska to catch a ride with the first Copper River fish of the season, I said “yes!” When I was asked if I wanted to fly a “milk-run” to Cordova on the unique Boeing 737-400 Combi, I said “hell yes!” I had never flown on a Combi before and I wanted to get onboard before they retire from Alaska’s fleet.
My adventure would take me from Seattle (SEA) to Juneau (JNU) to Yakutat (YAK) and finally to Cordova (CDV). Bring it!
This is the reason that most of us fly, being able to look down at the earth below us.
Flying around the U.S. is something that so many people do on a regular basis. The process used to be much more stressful. Having to track down a travel agent or even buying your ticket at the counter, hoping that there was a seat available. Today, we are able to book our tickets online, months in advance and can have increased confidence that we have a seat on the plane. But even in today’s hi-tech aviation business, there are still times that almost make it feel low-tech and high-stress. I experienced one recently on a flight to Las Vegas. That weekend in Vegas may have been fun, but for this AvGeek it was extremely stressful and I am not even sure if it was worth it.
There are many people who have airline benefits and have the ability to fly for free around the world. I have flown on these “buddy passes” before and previously, and it was not that bad of an experience. However, this trip to Vegas has seriously made me reconsider ever using one again.