February Newsletter

Another month has flown by. Don’s first mission this month was to take a group from the First Baptist Church of Big Lake, Alaska to Galena. We could not pick them up in Bog Lake because the runway is relatively short so we planned to pick them up in Wasilla about 15 miles away. However on the day of the flight there were low clouds over Wasilla so we changed the pick up airport to Palmer another 15 miles down the road. The lady who was doing all the co-ordination was Jane Thistle, whom Cat & I know through Emmaus. They ended up half an hour late because she had ordered their lunches from the wrong Subway. It was a nice sunny day in Palmer so we just loaded up and off we went. The flight to Galena, about an hour and a half, was very enjoyable as we gave them a great view of the snow covered Alaska Range. After dropping them off so they could conduct their women’s group and study classes we flew home to an early arrival for a change.
Eight days later we loaded the King Air up with 800 lbs of bottled water and 40 lbs of water softener salt for Roger Huntington in Galena since we had an empty airplane going to Galena to pick up the First Baptist Church group. On the way up we fought with some icing on the wings. Then to add insult to injury the weather in Galena went down below the minimum weather we needed to land. We always carry enough fuel to go to an alternate airport so we just kept on trucking – and praying. About a half an hour later the weather came back up so we flew an instrument approach. When Bob said he had the runway in sight I looked up but all I could see was a large expanse of white snow with trees on either side. After about 5 seconds I saw the runway and landed uneventfully. After unloading the water & salt, refueling the aircraft and loading the First Baptist Church group we took off back to Big Lake. However once again the weather was too low at Big Lake and Wasilla so we dropped them in Palmer.
Don’s last mission this month was a trip to Hooper Bay to pick up the Mulville family (7 in all) and take them to a conference in Anchorage. Since we were empty going out we loaded up a warming oven for the Youth Facility and delivered it to Hooper Bay. A little over an hour out of Bethel we received word that the runway would be closed at 1:30 PM for snow removal. This concerned us somewhat as our arrival time was 1:35 PM. We asked the controller three times to find out if Bethel Tower would let us land and after twice replying that “they were negotiating with the State” he said we would be allowed to land. Not a minute later he came back and said he had made a mistake and they were negotiating again. We had no choice at this point but to fly the instrument approach and hope we would be allowed to land. Fortunately they relented and we were able to land. We heard the tower tell the sweeper operator over the radio that the Alaska Airlines flight, for whom he was sweeping the runaway, was going to be in 15 minutes early. Between the our being 5 minutes late and Alaska Airlines being 15 minutes early we had cut his available time to sweep the runway from an hour to 40 minutes. After refueling in Bethel, we dropped the oven in Hooper Bay, picked up the Mulvilles and had enough fuel to fly direct to Anchorage (440 miles). After dropping them off we made it home by 6:30 PM.

Cat: Many of our Missions Team (like you) have asked about our neighborhood volcano. This article from the local paper gives you as much information as we get, sitting right next to it. When we first moved in, our nearest neighbor took a stick and burrowed through the snow to show us, about six inches down, a two to three inch ridge of volcanic ash from the last time that Redoubt got cranky, eight or so years ago. He said the air quality did not encourage outdoor sports and the airport at Anchorage as well as other air traffic was closed. Some flights have been diverted, but mostly it’s pretty calm. We are also supposed to prepare for earthquakes & tsunamis. I am going outside to count the stars and our blessings!