Colleen Mondor

Aviation has been closely associated with Mount McKinley for decades, and the perils of flying there have been considered from the very beginning. When Joe Crosson made the first landing on the mountain in 1932, he intended to drop off his three climbing passengers at the 5,600-foot level and quickly depart. Things did not go as planned...

Colleen Mondor

In this National Park Service video, pilot Lynn Ellis flies through Wrangell-St. Elias Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the U.S., providing a deeply personal narration along with views of truly stunning scenery....

Colleen Mondor

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the recent crash of a sightseeing flight in Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan that killed the pilot and eight passengers.

But that report is only the beginning of an extensive investigation. It will likely be a year before a probable cause for the accident is determined, and during that period the NTSB will conduct a staggering amount of research into the circumstances surrounding the crash. This is familiar territory for the agency and also, sadly, all too familiar for Alaskans as well...

Colleen Mondor

81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska's Frozen Wilderness

By Brian Murphy; Da Capo Press; 2015; 264 pages; $24.99

On Dec. 21, 1943, a B-24 Liberator on a cold-weather training flight departed from Ladd Field in Fairbanks and disappeared. The aircraft’s last reported position was 10 miles east of Big Delta; 81 days later, the sole survivor walked out of the Bush. First Lt. Leon Crane’s incredible story, along with that of a modern journey to the wreckage of the Iceberg Inez, is shared through Brian Murphy’s new book, “81 Days Below Zero.” As survival tales go, this one is epic, which makes it all the more surprising that it is so little known in Alaska...

Colleen Mondor

On Sept. 9, 2013, pilot Alan Foster disappeared while flying a Piper PA-32-260 from the Southeast Alaska community of Yakutat to Merrill Field in Anchorage.

It was the final leg on a cross-country journey that began with the acquisition of the plane, bearing the tail number N3705W, in Atlanta. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Foster, who was flying under a visual flight rules flight plan, fueled the aircraft in Yakutat and departed around 3:30 p.m. He contacted Juneau flight service soon after departure and asked for updated weather conditions, indicating he would stop at Cordova if necessary...

Colleen Mondor

In March, a state Senate committee led by Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, submitted a proposal that all state funding for public television be cut. The House had already passed a budget that cut state funding by about $1 million; the new proposal removed the remaining $3 million as well.

In a short interview, Dunleavy stated that the cuts were “not about whether a program is a good program or not.”

The funding was later restored, but not before response from those opposed to the cuts focused immediately on one very recognizable and award-winning program that often comes up when the issue of cutting public broadcasting surfaces in budget talks...

Colleen Mondor

In late 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration quietly opened a new Flight Standards District Office in Wasilla. Technically a satellite office of the Anchorage FSDO, Wasilla has nine employees, seven of whom are aviation safety inspectors.

This is the first satellite office for the FAA in Alaska, a step in the agency's efforts to move beyond its traditional bases of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. In September, two Juneau inspectors were placed in Ketchikan as a "virtual office" and two inspectors from Anchorage are now rotating through Bethel on four-day shifts, providing a presence at the busy Southwest Alaska hub seven days a week...

Colleen Mondor

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released a long-awaited list of redundant or under-utilized instrument approaches that the agency proposes eliminating in the continuing transition to the NextGen satellite-based air traffic system. The plan is to reduce the cost of maintaining unnecessary aspects of the ground-based navigational infrastructure while still providing a viable VOR-network in the event of GPS system failure. The list of 736 VOR and NDB procedures nationwide the FAA proposes to eliminate includes 28 in the state of Alaska...

Colleen Mondor

In April, the National Transportation Safety Board released the public docket on its investigation into the Nov. 29, 2013 plane crash of a Hageland Aviation aircraft outside the Southwest Alaska village of St. Marys. The crash, which killed four people, and the resulting investigation, reveal troublesome lapses in operational oversight from both the company and the government agency tasked with regulating them.

The St. Marys docket release includes interviews with company personnel and management, survivors, first responders and Federal Aviation Administration personnel assigned to inspect and oversee the airline, as well as extensive analysis of the wreckage and weather around the time of the crash...

Colleen Mondor

The Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation will host its annual Seaplane Seminar at the Loussac Library in Anchorage on Saturday, April 25. The all-day seminar includes a variety of topics and guests addressing an array of topics for area pilots and aircraft owners.

The agenda includes a presentation on avoiding mid-air collisions by Millicent Hoidal with the National Transportation Safety Board, a maintenance panel discussion entitled "Preparing your Aircraft for the Float Season" and, in a topic addressed in an article last summer , "Tips for a Successful Search and Rescue" by two members of the U.S. Coast Guard...

Colleen Mondor

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