Colleen Mondor

On the morning of September 5, 2012, Era Alaska Flight 874 departed Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport for what was scheduled to be a 40-minute flight to Homer. The de Havilland DHC8 twin-turbine aircraft, more commonly known as a Dash 8, carried 15 passengers and a crew of three (two pilots, one flight attendant). At about 11 a.m., according to a preliminary report later filed by the National Transportation Safety Board, the aircraft “experienced an uncommanded left roll and uncontrolled descent during climb at about 12,000 feet.” The flight crew regained control at about 7,000 feet and the flight returned to Anchorage with no injuries or damage to the aircraft. More than three years later, The NTSB hasn't issued a final report finding a probable cause for the incident. NTSB...Colleen Mondor
Paul Claus' unusual twist on geocaching got its start in an unexpected way. As his daughter Logan tells the story, the Alaska pilot, guide and owner of Ultima Thule Lodge was hosting a friend from Switzerland several years ago, when that guest spotted a moose shed from the air and returned with a set of coordinates and a challenge: Could Claus locate the shed, too? The flight that followed inspired Claus to develop an annual invitation-only event that combines a treasure hunt sensibility with two of the best aspects of the state's aviation environment: stunning scenery and off-airport operations. The event is launched each spring from Claus’ lodge in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. It engages about a dozen invited competitors in two days of fun that mimics the popular activity of...Colleen Mondor
Have you ever waited for a plane to depart into the bush only to groan when a weather delay is announced? Do you vent your frustration on the customer service employees and the pilot? As a pilot, have you waivered in your decision to fly, only to have your mind changed by the people around you? These scenarios happen everyday in Alaska, but lately are receiving some increased scrutiny. The fall issue of the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation newsletter tackles the issue of pressure and how it can cause pilots to make unsafe decisions. According to Mark Madden, a professor with the University of Alaska Anchorage Aviation Technology program and a Master Flight Instructor, pressure can come from internal and external sources and be very difficult to resist: “Quite often,” writes Madden, “...Colleen Mondor
A new film from National Geographic, "Living in the Age of Airplanes," which includes footage filmed in Alaska, is showing at the Anchorage Museum planetarium. Director Brian Terwilliger and his crew filmed in 95 countries for the 47-minute film, which is narrated by actor and pilot Harrison Ford...
Colleen Mondor
On May 16, 1932, pilot Jerry Jones was in trouble. One of his company’s customers, a member of a climbing party on what was then Mount McKinley, was desperately ill in a tent on Muldrow Glacier and needed immediate transport. Unfortunately, the snow was gone in Weeks Field in Fairbanks. Jones needed skis to land on the glacier; but couldn’t take off with them. Someone suggested that the fire department turn their hoses, pump and water wagon on the airport and transform the dirt runway into mud, according to a Daily News-Miner report. The experiment worked, Jones was able to take off, the sick man was rescued. “His splasho return landing is probably the only one on record ever accomplished in a man-made mud pie,” Grant Pearson, who later became superintendent of Mount McKinley National...Colleen Mondor
As news broke earlier this month of a floatplane crash of near Iliamna that killed three passengers and injured seven others, some observers turned their attention to the plane. The Sept. 15 crash involved a single-engine de Havilland Otter DHC3, a model that's seen a series of high-profile crashes in recent years. In 2010, an Otter crashed into a mountain north of Dillingham , killing former Sen. Ted Stevens and four of the eight other people aboard. In 2013, all 10 people aboard another Otter died when that plane crashed on takeoff at the Soldotna airport , the deadliest Alaska aviation accident in decades. Earlier this year, an Otter flying cruise passengers on a flightseeing trip in Misty Fjords National Monument outside Ketchikan crashed, killing the pilot and eight passengers . And...Colleen Mondor
New Zealand photographers and filmmakers Richard Sidey and Aliscia Young visited Alaska last month and created this short video to share some of their experiences. Using a camera-mounted DJI Phantom 3 drone, they filmed in Katmai National Park, the Sawyer Glacier in Tracey Arm, Elfin Cove and...
Colleen Mondor
Confusion over the potential airspace restrictions during the President’s upcoming visit has presented a case study in how little understood Alaska’s aviation environment remains to many in the Lower 48. With little information coming from official sources at first, rumors about what might happen reverberated through Alaska's aviation community, fueling worries over how businesses and long-planned trips could be affected. And when more detailed information on the Temporary Flight Restrictions was released Wednesday, those worries turned to disappointment for many pilots and charter companies. This was in large part because it was decided that Palmer Airport would serve as a security checkpoint , or "gateway airport" for all incoming chartered aircraft and general aviation to Ted Stevens...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. After unloading their supplies and seeing Crosson taxi away, the climbers lost sight of the Fairchild 71 in the swirling wind and snow. They assumed he had taken off, but as he told them later that night, he only made it up to about 300 feet before a sudden downdraft forced him back onto the glacier. Conditions had rapidly deteriorated, destroying all visibility, so Crosson cut power to the engine to avoid hitting a ridge. After the aircraft finally...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. Ellis is uniquely positioned to show off the park; he grew up in the...
Colleen Mondor