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 rideÂ 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!
A TWA Boeing 707 freighter on Runway 25R at LAX – Photo: Jon Proctor
Here’s a little background about a wonderful encounter I had with racing legendÂ Andy Granatelli in the late 1970’s. Â At that time, I flew for Trans World Airlines on theirÂ Boeing 707 and 727 aircraft.
In April and May of 1978, my regular assignment (trips for the month) was to fly a 707 freighter from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. Typically, we would launch very late in the evening around midnight, and arrive in Indy at around 6:00 am local time. A day-and-a-half later, we’d fly a return flight to Los Angeles at 6 pm. That gave us a 36-hour layover in Indy. Â On our first trip of the month, I got to the airport quite early, as I had been on vacation the previous month and had lots of accumulated paperwork to attend to. At about nine in the evening, I bummed a ride with a TWA mechanic from the hangar to the TWA cargo facility on the other side of the airport – probably the most harrowing part of my three-day trip.
As we arrived at the air freight terminal, I noticed two large box vans – both painted with the legendary STP logo. The TWA mechanic and I walked over to the vans and looked inside… one was filled with tires, crated engines, tool boxes, and other motor racing equipment. Â The second van had two Indy 500 race cars inside!
A Rendition of what a Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777F will look like – Photo: Lufthansa Cargo
Two years ago an interesting order was placed with Boeing. One that might have slipped under the radar for most.Â This order didnâ€™t really make all too many waves in the AvGeek world and to be honest, IÂ didn’tÂ even realize it myself till I was tipped off by a fellow AvGeek.
In March 2011 Lufthansa Cargo put in an order for five 777 freighters and this spurred a large amount of curiosity since it did not seem like the ideal choice to replace their aging fleet of 18 classic MD-11 aircraft.