Boeing 727 jets are a dime a dozen in the skies over Alaska's largest city, but it's not every day that one lands on Merrill Field, Anchorage's little community airfield just east of downtown. Alaskans turned out in droves, lining balconies, balancing on snowberms and hanging onto chain-link fences, faces pressed up close like kids at a zoo, to see the jet buzz a mall and land alongside 5th Avenue commuters.
The jet appeared over downtown Anchorage around 1:30 p.m., approaching the populated area surrounding Merrill Field very slowly and ominously. Equipment that had been out clearing the 4,000-foot East-West runway of snow and ice disappeared, and the plane circled around against the backdrop of the Chugach Mountains. The 727 is designed to land on longer runways, but a 4,000-foot landing was still within the planes operational capabilities.
The plane gave spectators a bit of a show, doing two low flybys of the runway before finally touching down with a roar. Some people cheered, many snapped photos, and a few stuck around as the plane was hauled to its final resting place right next to the UAA Aviation Technology Center.