Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cold-Hard-Fact #1

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What goes up must come down and sometimes it's a bumpy landing.

I took this photo from my porch about a week ago. Not terrific photography, I know. The light was spare and it was in the -30's at the time, so I didn't spend a lot of time trying to get a better shot.

It always amazes me when I see airplanes this enormous on our tiny, unpaved air strip. I had heard, a few days before, that a plane was blown off the runway while landing, but I hadn't realized when I took this photo that this was the plane.

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When I got to work the next day, I asked about it and was told that the airplane I'd photographed was a cargo plane that was hit by a 40 mph crosswind just before touchdown. Remember that really windy day I mentioned a while back? That was the day.

As the pilot attempted to land, the right wing dipped suddenly causing the wheels to edge off the air strip onto softer, unpacked snow several feet below. And that drove the prop on the far-right engine into the ground. Ouch!

My photos were taken several days after the accident, days after tireless crews worked with machinery on-hand to haul the aircraft back onto the air strip for assessment and repair. As I understand it, they used bulldozers to pull the plane and a front-end loader to move/remove the damaged engine.

A big thank you to Mel, our plant manager, for donating the following photos from the airport.

Several vehicles were being used as light sources while the work was going on. I am astounded that they were able to do all of this under such challenging conditions.

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Notice the engine sitting on the ground!

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Being off the road system, this village depends on air transport for just about everything. This particular aircraft was carrying building materials and possibly furniture. It could just as easily have been carrying fuel, a completely different scenario. Thankfully, no one was injured in the accident. In fact, I don't think the cargo was seriously damaged either.

It seems we were blessed with an uneventful ending to what could have been a tragic tale.

My hope is that we never take that for granted.

4 comments:

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad that was only an unusual occasion, not a tragedy. Enjoyed the pictures. I am so amazed at the fortitude required to live where you do, though you probably don't see it as such. Just read an article in the Sunday paper about a town south of you, Tuluksak. Are the inhabitants of your town being hit with such hardships of fuel oil prices(they blew my mind), jobs and food? And here I was whining about a 4 day power outage.

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Patti.
I'm familiar with Tuluksak, but not the article. What paper were you reading? Maybe I can find an online version of the article.

The "official" community grocery store in this village closed a few years ago for a variety of reasons. Eventually, a family here in the community opened a store in the living room of their home. It's small, but a great blessing to everyone here. The bulk of food that is eaten here is either shipped in by air or hunted/gathered from the tundra and river. You've reminded me that I was going to do a post about that sometime.

Fuel is a HUGE expense here. Not only is the current economic situation driving prices up, but we have to have all fuel flown in and that raises the prices even higher. The last time I checked the price of gas, I think it was about $4.99 a gallon. I have no idea what it is now.

Thanks so much for your interesting comments. You've inspired me to update my information! :)

Steve said...

Great account, Kimberlee. That's the kind of excitement of which one wants very little

Kimberlee said...

You're absolutely right about that, Steve. I try very hard not to dwell on this kind of thing. If I did, I don't think I'd ever be able to go anywhere!