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Colleen Mondor

B-25J Sandbar Mitchell Center Section Disassembly Time-lapse

The Warbirds of Glory Museum has released a video showing its progress on the restoration of a B-25 bomber that crashed in 1969 while operating for the fire service, but which was recovered in 2013 near the Tanana River and has become known as the "Sandbar Mitchell." Museum founders Patrick Mihalek and Todd Trainor spearheaded efforts to remove the plane from the its remote location and have since been working with a group of volunteers to restore it in their shop in Brighton, Mich.While the video highlights some of the hands-on work accomplished since the aircraft was transported to the Lower 48, Mihalek stressed in a recent phone conversation that even more significantly, the museum now has tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) public charity. That means donations are tax-deductible, which he hopes will spur contributors to help fund their efforts."Our biggest challenge is fundraising," explains Mihalek, "which is crucial because our current location can not accommodate the rebuild of a B-25 and we will have to relocate the museum soon."There is a larger airport nearby that will suit the aircraft's space requirements both for the current rebuild and future flight. It will also allow the museum to be open to the public throughout the restoration process, which is a significant part of Mihalek's vision. Though they are currently also working on a recently donated World War II Link Trainer for display, there isn't adequate room to allow many visitors. The museum needs a solid endowment to finance the transition to a fully open and working facility that highlights the bomber, which will soon be undergoing the first steps to return it to its original condition."Our next job is to rebuild the top section," said Mihalek. He believes the original section was removed by scavengers sometime in the 1990s and his frustration over the damage done by this removal is palpable."If they had only cut it a little higher we wouldn't have the problems we have now putting the new section in place," he said. The new section comes from another B-25, but some metal fabrication will have to be done to bring the two parts together. Because the museum is determined to bring the Sandbar Mitchell back to airworthy status, that fabrication, like every other facet of the restoration, won't be cheap."The project has taken off in ways I never dreamed of," said Mihalek, whose plans for the Mitchell and the museum to showcase it stretch back more than 10 years. "So many young people have become involved and are such a valuable part of what we are trying to do here. It's amazing."All of those young people came to the museum after finding about it on their own, and have proven critical to the disassembly process, he said. Of the 14 volunteers in the video, 10 are under the age of 20, a fact that is especially impressive in the midst of so many doomsayer articles from the aviation industry about the aging population of pilots and mechanics."We just want to keep working on the plane and the museum and have this project be as open to the public as possible," Mihalek said. "There are only about twenty B-25s flying in the U.S. today; the Sandbar Mitchell is an important part of Alaska and aviation history and we look forward in continuing to get it back in the air."Keep up with the Warbirds of Glory Museum's efforts to fly the Sandbar Mitchell again at its website. Patrick Mihalek is also happy to speak with anyone about the project and their efforts to save this legendary aircraft.Contact Colleen Mondor at colleen[at]
Alaska Dispatch News

Moose calling in Fairbanks, Alaska

Though many Alaskans -- either knowingly or unknowingly -- live within close proximity of moose, only some have ever actually heard a moose call.Karen Wilken with HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks has, after she found three moose feeding in her yard this past week. One was calling out loudly to the others, maybe chatting about the 40-below-zero temperatures.
Tara Young

The Wash Off !

When it comes to extreme sports, vertical skiing, BASE jump, kite surfing, paragliding and an assortment of others spring to mind.Fishing?  Not so much. Lean back, launch a lazy cast, pop open a beer, await a strike. But the Australian anglers of an outfit called MorningTide Fishing are changing that, landing big fish from a treacherous rocky shoreline Down Under while fending off waves in a surf that never quits.“We would watch fishing shows on TV and compare them to the way we fished,” said MorningTide angler Aaron Briggs of Barmah in New South Wales. “What we found was it would never add up.“We're trying to catch tuna, mackerel, and other pelagics from the rocks and we’re constantly getting hammered by waves and hooking solid fish ... Basically our average days fishing were so much more exciting then a whole season of the best fishing shows on the telly, so a light just went off in our heads and we said we gotta make a fishing show.”They fish the east coast of the continent from New South Wales to Queensland, landing yellowfin tuna up to 35 pounds, sharks, cobia and other fish.“To be honest, we’ve lost our biggest hookups,” Briggs told Grind TV. “It’s heartbreaking.”Still, they release most of their catch unless a fish is obviously injured.What sets MorningTide videos apart is that the anglers sometimes plunge into the salt water with their prey when their line gets hung up.“We jump in when a fish has run us into a reef but we’re still connected to the fish,” Briggs told Grind TV.  “That has to be one of the worst feelings in fishing – where if you tighten up, you’re going to snap your line, and if you leave it loose, you’re going to get spooled. If there’s still a chance of landing the fish, we’ll jump in (to attempt to free the line).”Most of the MorningTide anglers have been around water and surfed most of their lives. They wear wetsuits for safety, but not life vests nor helmets. “Our take on life vests is they are amazing if you can’t swim, but would be very dangerous for us because, well, what’s the first thing you do if a set (of waves) is going to land on your head?  Dive as deep as you can and swim out past it.  The last thing we want is to be unable to swim under waves,” Briggs said.  “A helmet might be a good idea, though.”How about motoring farther offshore beyond the crashing waves in a boat, like most of the world does?“We see boats as cheating,” Briggs said.  “The feeling of landing a fish off the stones is so much better than a boat.”With the group’s photos and videos getting more and more exposure on the Internet, the Aussies are using their platform to promote catch-and-release fishing.“Frankly, there aren't a hell of a lot of fish left in the sea,” Briggs said. “We hope that if people see that we (land-based game fishermen that expend lots of energy on every fish) are willing to release our fish, then maybe they will look at their own actions as a fishermen and adopt a C&R style, or at least reduce what they keep.“For the non fishermen who is a consumer, we hope they will take a second to think about the fish they are buying and what is and isn't sustainable, what is and isn't endangered, what is farmed and what is wild.”Other MorningTide videos:• Catch and release mission:• Only a fisherman knows: Alaska Dispatch News videographer Tara Young at tara(at) 
Alaska Dispatch News
For the first time in 29 years, a hometown Bethel musher captured the world’s premier middle distance race when Peter Kaiser’s team of nine dogs crossed the finish line before dawn Sunday to the whoops and cheers of dozens of emotional fans who turned out to cheer him home. Dean Swope and Ben Matheson captured the race and the notable finish for KYUK Public Media, which serves listeners in Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.Read more: Bethel cheers as hometown musher Kaiser wins richest Kusko 300 ever
Alaska Dispatch News

Rockets Launched into the Northern Lights in 4K Ultra HD

Around midnight Sunday, with conditions just right, researchers launched four rockets from the the University of Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range, northeast of Fairbanks, into an aurora-bedecked sky.The rockets were designed to help researchers learn more about turbulence in the upper atmosphere and at the margin where the atmosphere meets space.But they were also beautiful in juxtaposition with the bright northern lights display, as photographer and videographer Ronn Murray, who shares this video, discovered.READ MORE: 'Four rockets launch from UAF research range'
Tara Young


Tim Buechle says he likes old things -- old planes, old cars and an old way of life. The 54-year-old grew up in Pinconning, Mich., and is now something of an Alaska renaissance man, making a living as a hunting and fishing guide, airplane mechanic and trapper.Buechle has been trapping since he was just 8 years old, when he sought out the men in his community who could teach him to trap.“It was just something natural," Buechle said. "Nobody had to sell me on it, nobody had to tell me. It was just the way I was created, I guess.”His dream growing up was to eventually live in Northern Canada or Alaska. After college and some time spent working in the building industry in Detroit, he decided to finally follow his childhood dream. He sold all his belongings and headed to Alaska. He first drove to the Last Frontier on his motorcycle in 1993 and became a permanent resident in 1999.Buechle built one cabin near the small town of Talkeetna, but also built his dream cabin -- all with indigenous materials -- in a remote area 20 air miles north of the community, in the foothills of the Talkeetna Mountains. Nearby, he has three trap lines on which he traps muskrats, marten, wolverine, fox, coyote, river otter and beaver. Buechle is one of about 8,000 licensed trappers in the state, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and he said he values humane trapping, where the animal is killed as quickly as possible. Buechle lives his life close to nature, and is familiar with all of the animals in his area. During the winter trapping season, Buechle claims he can monitor animal populations just by looking at tracks in the snow. He considers trapping a renewable resource in Alaska, something that, when managed properly, won’t damage overall animal populations.“There is still not a product produced as warm and durable as fur," Buechle said. "Any of the synthetic products can’t hold up. And Lord knows what goes into the process of manufacturing those products.”And unlike trappers of centuries past, when trapping could be a profitable trade, Buechle didn't get into the business for the money.“Trapping won’t make you rich, but if I break even, the lifestyle is my profit,” he said.“It’s truly a way of life,” said Buechle. “It’s a constant adventure and journey. It keeps you alive. It keeps you thinking and adapting. It’s enjoyable to be out with these animals in their environment, matching wits with them.”Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)
Alaska Dispatch News


Alyeska Resort mountain services manager Brian Burnett decided to head out on the Girdwood 5-kilometer cross-country skiing loop during a rainy day in Girdwood last week.With a lack of snow and icy conditions, Burnett figured he would try Nordic skating on the trails.Burnett’s wife Ellie shot this video of him gliding around the icy trails in his finest rain gear.   
Alaska Dispatch News


WASILLA -- A stubborn fire burning for hours Tuesday morning in a commercial building just outside downtown Wasilla drew a massive response from Matanuska-Susitna Borough firefighters but caused no injuries, authorities say.Reader Ryan Smith shared the video above, which he shot on the way to the gym at about 5 a.m., he wrote.The fire was reported just before 5 a.m. in a two-story building off Wasilla-Fishhook Road near Nelson Avenue that contains Crescent Electric Supply Company and a thrift store, according to Mat-Su emergency services director Dennis Brodigan. Two adults and two children escaped an upper-floor apartment and were getting help from American Red Cross of Alaska.The building also housed the offices for Hope for Heroes Inc., a nonprofit that helps military families and veterans in need.Officials called “just about every piece of fire apparatus between Palmer and Houston” to the scene,” Brodigan said. The incident commander asked for help from Chugiak fire crews at about 7 a.m.READ MORE: 'Four escape injury as fire destroys Wasilla commercial building'
Nat Herz


JUNEAU -- Gov. Bill Walker says Alaska will tap its savings and cut budgets to get through low oil prices, but in an interview on the eve of next legislative session he was unwilling to call the state’s multibillion-dollar deficits a “crisis.”“I don’t use the word ‘crisis’ having been through some crisis in Alaska,” Walker said. “This is a downturn, this is a serious time to sit down and make some changes within our fiscal structure.”READ MORE: Alaska's fiscal situation not yet a 'crisis,' Walker says
Alaska Dispatch News

Lance Mackey: More than a Racer

Katie Basile, Renaldo Stover and Paul Conti teach the LKSD Multimedia Journalism course offered by the Lower Kuskokwim School District. This is their third year working with students to cover the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race that roars through that region annually. This year, 16 different students flew in from communities all over the YK Delta, including Quinhagak, Eek, Goodnews Bay, Kongiganak, Bethel, Mekoryuk and Atmautluak, to learn multimedia skills and cover the race. The videos from this years Kuskokwim 300 race include interviews with Lance Mackey, DeeDee Jonrowe, Pete Kaiser, Mike Williams Jr., Richie Diehl, and Kristin Bacon.
Tara Young


For the first time ever, Cirque du Soleil has landed in Anchorage. Its east-meets-west-themed show “Dralion” is in town this week, with a cast of over 50 artists -- acrobats, musicians, clowns, dancers, singers, aerialists and more.Artistic Director Sean McKeown said "Dralion" began its run in 1999, and this week will mark its final curtain call. "The show lasted 15 years, that’s a very long time. We’ve been everywhere we can go, basically, so we reached a point where it just came time to close." See photos: Performers prepare to present DralionRead more: Cirque du Soleil's 'Dralion' comes to Fairbanks and AnchorageWatch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)
Alaska Dispatch News


On Jan. 2, Greg Hugunin, 30, triggered an avalanche while snowboarding with five other people on Marmot Mountain in Hatcher Pass.  Hugunin was the first in his group to drop in at an elevation of about 4,400 feet."When I got in the bottom zone I kind of hammered a turn because I felt something would pop loose (and) you could kind of feel the snow fracture," Hugunin said. "I went farther and then I heard a pop behind me, so I went at about a 45 degree angle to my safe zone."This video captured the event. Hugunin arrived in the safe zone and looked back to see the slab of snow sliding down the mountain.Read more: Risky business in the backcountry: how to survive avalanche seasonWatch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)