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Colleen Mondor

After proving itself in the mid-1920s conducting surveys of Southeast Alaska, the airplane found itself unexpectedly increasingly useful to the burgeoning fishing industry in the state.

This came as a surprise to many, as it was a largely untested mode of transportation and the region’s weather was so problematic. But as soon as the first flight was made across the Gulf of Alaska in 1925, the numbers were impossible for even the most nervous passengers to ignore...

Colleen Mondor

Holiday shopping can be daunting, but take heart if you have a pilot, aircraft owner or aviation aficionado in your life; there are lots of things big and small that can be wrapped up for under the tree. Here are a few suggestions, starting with stocking stuffers.

Winter flying means you need a flashlight, especially a heavy duty one that can take some hard knocks along the way. But just as important is a small accessible flashlight that a pilot can easily reach if something goes wrong. Get one at any outdoor shop that clips onto a flight bag or zipper so your favorite pilot won't waste precious time looking for it...

Colleen Mondor

Last month the Federal Aviation Administration canceled the contracts for five weather stations in Alaska. The move will mean pilots will no longer be able to receive reports from Farewell Lake, Merrill Pass West, Manley Hot Springs, Nabesna and Chandalar Lake. Now, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is trying to determine how pilots in Alaska were utilizing these stations in their flight planning.

The closed stations were part of the A-PAID Program whereby local residents are trained and certified by the National Weather Service to make a series of daily weather observations. The weather service announced in 2011 that the national program would be phased out...

Colleen Mondor

In 2008, Alaskan Troy Hamon set out to fly his newly purchased airplane, a 1951 Piper Tri-Pacer, from Ohio to his home in King Salmon. This decision was fraught with particular difficulty as Hamon had yet to even take his first solo flight. Enlisting the assistance of his brother Quinn, a freight pilot who is also a flight instructor, they embarked on a two-week adventure flying across the western U.S. and Canada. Along the way, the brothers encountered good weather and bad, got a little bit lost and saw some spectacular scenery while Hamon worked, again and again, on his landings. He also kept a diary of the trip, which he used while writing “14 Days to Alaska,” a thoroughly engaging and often humorous look at what cross-country flying is all about...

Colleen Mondor

One of the clear points made at last week's National Transportation Safety Board public meeting on the Alaska State Troopers helicopter accident last year near Talkeetna is how quickly inadvertent flight under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions -- or VFR into IMC -- can result in a crash. The loss of Helo-1 on March 30, 2013, which resulted in the deaths of pilot Mel Nading and two passengers, followed a flight of only seven minutes....

Colleen Mondor

The Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation will hold its annual fall safety seminar Nov. 15 in the Z.J. Loussac Library Assembly Chambers in Anchorage. The special focus will be on flying under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions with two speakers visiting from Outside: Dr. Bill Rhodes from Aerworthy Consulting and Dale Wilson, aviation professor at Central Washington University...

Colleen Mondor

A chain of events that included fuel starvation, loss of engine power and an aerodynamic stall caused the crash that killed two people at Merrill Field in August 2013, according to a National Transportation Safety Board probable cause report released Thursday.

Investigators with the NTSB said that Cessna 150 pilot Robert Lilly was dealing with an extreme low fuel state when he was instructed to go around by the air traffic control tower. Lilly, who did not communicate his situation to the controller, was killed in a subsequent crash at the field along with his passenger, Jessi Nelson...

Colleen Mondor

The Washington Post recently reported on efforts to update Alaska maps to modern standards. The piece highlighted the efforts of one Anchorage company, in particular, and -- to illustrate the importance of such maps -- the article pointed to a fatal 2006 plane crash in Mystic Pass...

Colleen Mondor

According to a formal notice issued last month by the Federal Aviation Administration, all individuals holding mechanic certificates with airframe or powerplant ratings (or both) who were tested by Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME) Marty James Simmons of Anchorage must be re-examined. Simmons' DME designee status was terminated after investigators conducted interviews with "numerous" airframe and powerplant mechanics who received testing from him. The interviews presented compelling evidence raising doubts as to the adequacy of the testing, according to the agency....

Colleen Mondor

Floridian Amber Nolan arrived in Alaska last month in a very unique way -- she hitchhiked in an Aerotrek from Wisconsin with Palmer resident Glenn Johnmeyer. The two met at the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where the writer was looking for a ride north as part of her two-year effort to visit every state in the country traveling only by catching rides on general aviation and private jet aircraft. Her travels so far are documented on her website JetHiking , and she has future plans for a book about her adventures.

Alaska is one of Nolan's last states (only four remain on her quest), but as could be expected, it posed some specific challenges...

Colleen Mondor

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