With Dutch Harbor in the rear view window, I am camped out in Louisville, KY. looking for employment and a new chapter.
By: joealaska , 8:09 AM GMT on November 07, 2012
Lots happening the last few days.
Supposed to be back in Dutch Thursday. Wrong PB. My flight out was cancelled..
Weather in Dutch. Then it was re-scheduled for the next day at 2 PM.
Then another re-schedule... in TWO days at 6:45 AM. I HATE early AM flights, but that is what I usually get. So I switched hotels to Courtyard at Marriot, just to compare.
Phone was dead (they soon fixed it), then the cable TV went bad during college football. GCI. We have troubles with that company in Dutch. Small world! Won’t be going back there.
Saturday night I was at The Millennium Hotel. Headquarters for The Iditarod. I assume there are a bunch of dog kennels there. I liked the place. A couple of nice restaurants. But then I called GNU from the hotel phone in my room, and talked for about a half hour. $106 KA CHING.
Will not be going back. I vote The COMFORT INN. I even heard some other guest complimenting them as they were leaving. Nice place.
OK, I finally took off Sunday. Above the clouds, there was a beautiful sunrise to watch. But when we got near Dutch, we went below the clouds. Now the adventure began. It was not that turbulent until we got below the clouds, maybe a thousand feet above the water. I noticed several vessels heading out, big boats. I could see that they were fighting the waves.
We came in along Summer Bay Road and banked right to the runway. The plane was at the mercy of the wind, and the wind was winning. We were suddenly jumping up and down, left and right, violently. Having flown a plane for a couple years, I knew they were doing everything they could to point the nose at the runway. Not so easy. The movements were sudden and severe, and I was wondering how even a great pilot could react. All I know was we were coming in low, and it was still crazy. I do not care when a plane is bouncing around at altitude, but it gets interesting on final approach. Just when we were at the head of the runway it got wild, where we were landing with the plane at a 45 degree angle to the runway. OH, and the up and down bouncing... Somehow the pilot got the wheels on the ground. Still a problem, as we were heading into the side of ballyhoo.
He jerked the plane off the ground and went for a go around. It was the right move.
I looked around at the passengers, and everyone was looking outside with a funny look on their face.
Someone else on that plane is now blogging about the expression they saw on MY face.
Normally I take comfort in this situation that the pilot is good and will do the right thing. But I repeat, the wind was so crazy I think even Chuck Yeager may have ended up as a stain on the runway.
We went around the long way, then a low pass over the runway. Then one more time around. Third
time the charm.
We made a third approach, and I noticed a change. As we banked to final approach, they gunned the engines. They took charge, instead of the typical power down approach. It was like they were saying, OK, TAKE THIS! There is a peninsula we pass over on approach, and I was concerned we may just hit it and be done. But we got by. It is indescribable at this point. We are hurling forward, but every other point of reference is wildly changing. I emphasize the WILD. I am thinking NO WAY. Already considering the 3 hour trip back, then three hours back to Dutch next day again.
The noise was loud, and I am peering out the window as was everyone else. Even as we were just above the runway I was figuring NO SIR. But they jammed it down on the ground and instantaneously slammed the brakes.
I admit I was approaching petrification and was shaken even after we were on the ground.
The passengers broke to spontaneous applause and cheers, and when we stopped to deplane the Captain appeared. Everyone shook his hand. He was awesome, but I wonder if he pushed the limit.
His reaction was NO BIG DEAL. ALASKA.
Maybe in Alaska borderline is OK.
I tell you, I will never forget that landing.
Alaskan Pilots have my respects!
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