Alaska Airlines’ Fascinating Route To Adak Via Cold Bay

Filed Under: Alaska


I think I’ve just found another flight to put on my aviation geek bucket list once this is all over…

Alaska Airlines’ flight from Anchorage to Adak

As of May 16, 2020, Alaska Airlines will be launching a 2x weekly flight from Anchorage to Adak via Cold Bay. The flight will be operated by a 737 on Wednesdays and Saturdays with the following schedule:

AS184 Anchorage to Cold Bay departing 10:00AM arriving 11:30AM
AS184 Cold Bay to Adak departing 12:15PM arriving 1:00PM

AS187 Adak to Cold Bay departing 2:00PM arriving 4:45PM
AS187 Cold Bay to Anchorage departing 5:30PM arriving 7:00PM

What makes this route so special? Well, just look at a map and I’m sure you’ll appreciate how cool this flight is. The journey covers a distance of about ~1,250 miles one-way, and Cold Bay is right near the halfway point.

Maybe it’s even cooler if you zoom out on the map.

This isn’t the first time that Alaska has flown to Adak (which makes up part of the Aleutian Islands), but rather what’s new is that the flight will be operating via Cold Bay.

This is happening because Ravn recently went out of business, which was one of the primary airlines providing service within Alaska. That left Cold Bay without a link to Anchorage, which is why Alaska stepped in.

There’s so much interesting stuff here

The flight to Adak is operated as part of the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, and the government pays over $2 million per year for the flight to be operated, given how secluded the community is (that’s about $10,000 per flight one-way, or $20,000 roundtrip).

These are tiny communities — Cold Bay has just over 100 residents, while Adak has just over 300 residents. These are some of the smallest towns in the world to get Boeing 737 service.

One of the primary motives of providing service to Cold Bay is to give people access to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, which is a short flight away and has a community of a few thousand people. Unalaska looks gorgeous, by the way…

Has anyone been to Adak, Cold Bay, or Unalaska?

Also, while I realize this is purely my inner avgeek talking and there’s no way this is ever happening, how cool would it be if Alaska Airlines flew from Adak to Russia? Best I can tell the closest major airport in Russia would be Ugolny Airport, which is about 900 miles away (though maybe I missed another airport that’s closer?).

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is only a little further, and we have seen summer seasonal flights from there to Anchorage.

Other cool avgeek flights in North America

This isn’t even Alaska Airlines’ only really cool flight. Alaska Airlines is well known for “milk runs,” one of which operates from Seattle to Juneau via Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Petersburg. Some of those flights are just 30 miles, and circle around glaciers.

Then there are some really cool flights to the Canadian Arctic on Canadian North, like flying from Ottawa to Resolute Bay via Iqaluit and Arctic Bay.

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines’ new flight from Anchorage to Adak via Cold Bay has to be another one of the coolest avgeek routes in North America. As I’m increasingly looking at planning more travel within North America in the coming year or so, taking some of these flights is on my radar.

Has anyone actually been to Adak/Cold Bay/Unalaska, and if so, any thoughts on eventually visiting? Anyone find these flights as cool as I do?

  1. I’ve been to both Adak and Dutch Harbor (which is Unalaska). Both are fabulous destinations, and adak is gorgeous. And surreal, given the huge almost-ghost city.

    As long as the weather’s ok, they have some of the worst weather on earth. Was lucky both times.

  2. Do they really need to feed these two towns with B737? Can’t a CRJ100/200 or even a C208 Caravan do it? How many people flies to/ from a city that has 100 people? 2 million+ CAN$ a year for 400 residents?

  3. I’ve been to Dutch Harbor via ANC on Penn Air. No TSA, & they weigh you! Flying in & out had some insane views. They still had some old machine gun emplacements from WW2. If you’ve ever seen the show Deadliest Catch, the alcoholic/drug problems are real there.

  4. Endre,

    It’s not just pax it’s cargo. Everything there has to be brought in (except fish). And a lot of people go in and out of Dutch, specially for fishing. ANC-ADK is also about 1200 miles, bit far for a Cessna.

  5. I’ve been to both Adak and Unalaska on PenAir/Ravn, they definitely have a something you can’t find in other Alaskan communities, nor in the lower 48. My dream would be go to Saint Paul or Attu one day.

  6. My mother grew up in Adak as part of my grandfather’s service to the US Navy. She still remembers when the planes would come in and the delight of new things.

    I’d love to take her back one day. It was the wildest of the adventures the Navy took them to during my grandfather’s career.

  7. Alaska Airlines used to fly to Russia. Shame they never developed a transpacific business model from Seattle before Delta came in.

  8. I flew (passenger) the route on Reeves Aleutian Airlines (RAA) many years ago. Adak is amazing and is known as the “Birthplace of the Winds” for a reason. We were told they had one shot at landing and if they went around it was back to Anchorage. Back then the way back was via Shemya, AK. Even closer to Russia. If you can find pictures of the Shemya anchor chain wind sock on a windy day it will amaze you.

  9. I’ve been to Cold Bay back in the mid 80’s. It’s pretty barren with nothing to see or do. It used to be an Air Force base and it has a 10,000 ft runway which comes in handy for emergency diversions for flights to/from Asia.

    Back in the 80’s it had quite a few daily flights as it served as a mini hub for Reeve Aleutian Airways. Their YS-11s, Electras, and the occasional 727-100 were frequent visitors.

  10. I’m not sure if they are still active but back in the day both the NSA and the FTA had tracking stations and there were also Coast Guard personell stationed there. My father and our next door neighbor went frequently – on military flights from Anchorage if I remember correctly. They always said it was beautiful in the summer, but depressing as hell in the winter.

  11. I flew to Cold Bay a couple of time in 1980 on Flying Tigers Airline on maybe a Super Constellation. Seems like it was $800 one way from Anchorage. It was memorable because it was so windy I was watching Super Cubs fly backwards and hover at times.

  12. Flew to Adak several times while working as a contractor for the Navy. Flew with Reeves. Some WWII relics, salmon runs during the proper season and interesting sea life. I don’t know what’s left now that the Navy has gone or what parts of the island you can explore. Dress warm and enjoy the experience.

  13. I absolutely love these kinds of posts. I learn so much about interesting places I have never heard of. Please keep them coming.

  14. Back in the day to Adak they brought in a rolling GA podium and took it with them when they left again 🙂

    Not sure these days

  15. Cash prices in June are about $1100 round trip, but you can redeem 7,500 miles each way in economy, or 15,000 first class.

  16. We had the most fantastic trip, taking the MV Tustumena, part of the Alaska Ferry system, from Kodiak to Dutch Harbor. it was a journey that I would enthusiastically recommend to anyone. I kept a journal of our experiences as independent travelers, (part of a series of three photojournals I made of that trip in Alaska, Haida Gwaii, and Western Canada). Here is a link to the particular volume that features the Aleutians , starting with page 57. I am happy to share it and hope it shows what a beautiful part of the world it is. Really wonderful stuff.

  17. Hello from Anchorage. While these flights aren’t the old combi- planes, I’m sure they’ll still be transporting lots of groceries and other vital supplies to these communities. If you’re traveling out that way, be prepared for heavy horizontal rain, and summer fog can ground flights to/from the Aleutians for days/weeks at a time. These are treeless areas although there are good opportunities for hiking during the precious few sunny summer days. The Alaska State ferry system is also operating a very limited schedule this summer to the Aleutians . Alaska still has a 14-day quarantine still in effect for visitors and residents arriving from out of state. Given that AK for now seems to have a relatively low Covid-19 infection rate, I’m not sure when the state will be comfortable lifting the quarantine. If the quarantine is lifted and you feel safe traveling, you might also consider seeing the bears at Katmai. although they’re only present when the salmon are running. One-way award tickets from Anchorage to King Salmon run just 5K AK miles. It would then be necessary to take a water taxi from King Salmon to Katmai. There are lodges in the area as well as camping opportunities. If you decide on the latter, be sure to make a reservation for a spot inside the electrified enclosure and you’ll need to bring your own camping equipment. Just remember that access to medical services in remote areas of Alaska can be extremely limited and accommodations other than upscale lodges can be very spartan.

  18. Or Alaska should operate “Aleutian Hopper” service, ANC-CDB-SNP-ADK-SYA-HND (or few more stops in the Aleutians). Just like how United operates “Island Hopper” via Marshall Islands and Micronesia.
    That’ll be a very interesting flight to take.

  19. I’ve been to Cold Bay, Dutch Harbor, and Adak on several memorable flights. The first was from Anchorage to Adak on an Alaska Airlines 737. About 150 miles out from Adak the plane began its descent through the thick cloud cover. We emerged from under the clouds only about 500-600 feet above the ocean, but still going around 400 mph, and we cruised this way all the rest of the way to Adak. That’s something you don’t experience every day on a commercial flight. And the landing on Adak was also exciting. There’s ocean at both ends of the short runway, and upon landing you really get to feel just how strong airliner brakes are!

    The second interesting flight I had was from Anchorage to Cold Bay on a Penair (now defunct) turboprop. It was a really windy day with a strong headwind to fight. At just past the halfway point, the pilot announced that due to the headwind, we’d be turning around and heading back to Anchorage. As soon as we made the 180° turn, our ground speed increased by 200 mph!

  20. I live in NH but own a business in Unalaska. Needless to say the commute is long and challenging. But it is what you make of it. I love mixing it up between meetings in Anchorage, a short drive into the Kenai Peninsula and then making my way out to the office. Unalaska is a thriving community with great people. It is very refreshing to see the resilience of people in remote Alaska and the community bonds that exist. Yes the weather can be very challenging at times but the rewards are much greater. Glad to hear Alaska Airlines is looking to alleviate the current challenge of having no commercial airline service to Anchorage. The people rely on it and need this to be a stable situation. As I told my former employer before I acquired their Alaska division, you have to spend some time there to truly understand it. Been working out there for almost 5 years and not looking back. I absolutely love it!

  21. I’ve been to Adak several times — it’s an incredible place. Aside from the stunning natural beauty, being able to explore a massive military base that was abandoned in the 1990s is just awesome. Underground swimming pools and theaters, unclear bunkers, heck you can even climb into the air traffic control tower. It’s really the best use of AS miles … just 5,000 each way from anywhere in Alaska! Happy to share pics of video if you’re interested.

  22. Great article!! My Sister is a manager for AS, and I have used the benefits to fly the “milk fun twice now, once with a pilot who was a patient of mine who gave me his flight schedule so I could do the run with him. It’s all about the weather baby. The last time I flew it the weather was beautiful and we flew at 3000ft from Wrangell to St. Petersburg . Amazing!! Alaska also have a Anchorage to Vladivostok nonstop for a few years that I also did a turnaround on when it was still in service. You had to get a Russian visa if you didn’t do the turnaround and have to go through customs.

  23. I live in in Anchorage now. Used to fly all over AK for work. Never made it yet to Adak. I have flown the SE AK milk run many times on AS. Attu is the furthest Island in the Aleutian chain with no year round residents. A lot of bird watchers go there in the summer. Accessible only by boat or helicopter I believe.

  24. Great to know Ben, thanks!

    @Matt I totally concur!
    @Brands… you’re reading my mind!
    @George please do.. it be great seeing it!

  25. Had a brief stop in Cold Bay on a flight from Saint Paul Island to Anchorage on Reeve Aleutian in the late 1980s. Never left the plane, so can’t say much. The outbound flight from ANC to SNP (non-stop, if I remember correctly) was on one of Reeve’s Electras. That was an experience. At the time, SNP had a gravel runway. Also an experience.

  26. I grew up on the Milk Run in Ketchikan, and the flight numbers and schedule have been the same for so long that we used to just say the flight number and not when/where we were going. Before the TSA, you could always hop off the plane at each stop for snacks or to stretch your legs. One of our traditions was to always get a slice of homemade pie during the stop in Sitka.

    If you can believe it, Unalaska used to even get 737-200 combis back in the day on a 3900 foot runway! There’s a few photos of it you can find with a little googling! Alaska stopped flying jets for the service because the weather was so fidgety with the short and narrow runway with hills right next to it creating treacherous winds.

  27. I live in the canadian arctic in a small community of 1600 served by 737-combi. It is truly a lifeline, however our ticket costs reflect the true costs of flying up here (~CAD 3000 RT to lower Canada). At least you can redeem a short haul RT on Canadian north with Aeroplan and get it on points!

  28. My guess would be that the short runway at DUT, and resulting load limits, is why they are serving ADK via CDB instead of DUT.

    One time I took a voluntary bump off of an ANC-SEA nonstop, and discovered that the milk run via Cordova, Yakutat, and Juneau was leaving from the next gate over. Good weather and even got upgraded on all but one leg.

  29. As one of the pilots who are going to be flying that connection from cold bay and down, I can tell you it’s gonna be quite the adventure! Alaska airlines is going to leave the passengers in Cold Bay and then we get to take them the rest of the way

  30. Yes, cstone and I went to Adak! Happy to chat and give you the rundown. It’s an amazing trip and absolutely recommended.

  31. @Andrew I agree, this flight have the potential to extend to Haneda from Adak. How cool would that be!

    (ps: taking this flight from ANC-HND is actually quicker than flying the long way via SEA or SFO, even with several stops, and of course there’s demands between Alaska and Japan)

  32. Spent the late 70’s flying in and out of Dutch via Cold Bay, on both Flying Tigers and Reeves. Always thrilling, never the same adventure twice! Caribou herds abounded in Cold Bay, and meeting up with local Aluet, Mike Utecht, was always a treasured experience! Flying the Aluetians is exhilarating and not to be missed!jules

  33. I lived in Cold Bay for 4 years when I worked for the National Weather Service. They have a huge runway leftover from WWII. In fact, it has been used for emergency landings of 777s going to Asia. If you like fishing, hunting, or seeing bears this is your place. Not much there otherwise but because of the runway, it’s a place where all the little villages around the area come to in order to get to Anchorage. They also ship a ton of crab out of the processing plant in King Cove. Having plane service is vital to the area as there is no other way.

  34. I have been to DUT countless times (okay, maybe 9) for work. It is a crucial flight for bringing in supplies, food, mechanical parts and humans (observers, fishers, processor workers, scientists, technicians and family) to and from DUT to anywhere. I’ve flown this in a RAA constellation, whatever PenAir used and the AS 737. The problem with DUT is that you can be stuck there for days if the weather turns. So keep that in mind.

    I have also been to Cold Bay, but that was because we had to pick up someone/thing on the way back to ANC. It looked bleak.

    Returning via the ferry is a good option for those with a lot of leisure time and hand sanitizer.

    DUT is pretty nice, especially if you can get to the dump to watch the eagles.

  35. There is no airport but I would add Tristan Da Cunha to everyone’s isolated place bucket list. Just Google it as there is plenty of resources discussing it

  36. I thoroughly enjoyed Susan Hanes’s journal. It is as close as I’ll ever get to a visit to that spectactular area. The Journal is a marvelous effort of prose and photo journalism. A wonderful experience on a very rainy day in Austin, TX.
    Thank you Susan for that post.

  37. My family lived on Adak for four years while I was active duty Navy, my youngest son was born there. The nature is awesome, salmon fishing, watching the puffins, eagles, caribou, great hiking and beautiful lakes. The water in many locations tastes great but beware, when we were there in the late 80’s some bodies of water had poison markers from Navy pollution. You can see killer whales and otters from the beach including mama otters floating on their back with babies on their tummy. Cross country skiing is thrilling especially knowing that you were pretty much on your own. Beaches were vacant most of the time. The bridge down near the Telecommunications station was often less then 10′ above the water surface and you could stand on it and watch the seals pass under it! Winds could get rough, I remember times when they would break a ship loose in the harbor. Just an awesome place to live.

  38. Ya, hello from Anchorage. I’ve been to Cold Bay, Dutch Harbor and Adak. Cold Bay is great for exploring nearby Izembek WIldlife Refuge. EXCELLENT duck/goose hunting. EXCELLENT fishing in Russell Creek, too. We also found lots of ptarmigan on the slopes of nearby Mt. Frosty.

    Dutch Harbor is a bustling port–and there’s lots of WWII history there.

    Adak is another great hunting and fishing destination. Fun fact: it is the southernmost city in Alaska. We harvested some f-i-n-e caribou there.

    Speaking of Russian collusion, Adak gets their gas from Vladivostok. I was there when the tanker came in!

    Russian collusion Ch 2: Fly from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky nonstop on Mondays between mid-July and mid-September. FABULOUS place.

  39. years ago Pacific Northern used to fly nonstop Seattle to Kodiak. I believe it was with a Constellation. Now you have to change planes in Anchorage. How about a direct Seattle to Kodiak with maybe a stop in Juneau, the state capitol. The Juneau stop would put a few more people on board. The flight wouldn’t have to be daily. That would be an adventure!

  40. I was stationed on the northern part of Adak in the early 80s. Climbed Mt. Adagdak a few times and from there you had a beautiful view of the Bering sea. There were many eagles there both bald and golden. Some friends found a 30 cal machine gun left from WWII. I hunted ptarmigan (they made the oddest sound). The ptarmigans feathers changed colors with the season which kept them camouflaged year round. They were all white during the winter. Adak lived up to its motto “Birth place of the Winds”.

  41. Be prepared for a month long round trip to & from ANC since every Alaskan community requires a strict 14 day quarantine upon arrival.

    My father spent what he said was “the longest year and a day in my life” on Adak, the winter of 1943-44. He said that he never would have come back to Alaska when he left but they sent him to Juneau, where he found a hunting and fishing paradise, and then my mother.

  42. Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky)
    Ben I didn’t feel ‘lucky’ having to fly to Shemya AFB in April 1973 do a year tour USAFSS 6984th Security Squadron – AAFJOG E-Ops. Went via Reeves Aleution LOCKHEED Electra turbo-prop (like Navy P-3, EP-3 still flying) from Anchorage (picked up Arctic gear) then Adak Navy Base to Amchitka AEC/DOE NUKE TEST SITE finally to Shemya,AFB landing sideways in pea soup fog and 25 knot cross wind (Cobra Ball would have aborted and flown back to Fairbanks) after a year returned to Ft Meade,MD thinking I only had six months to go before getting out. WRONG! Got orders 2 months later to head to Oakland, CA to go on the USNS GEN. H.H. Arnold TAGM9 – sailed out of SF bay to Adak (sea sick for 3 days) refuled then sailed right past Shemya heading to Kamchatka but that’s another story. Mike THE ‘WHITE KNUCKLE’ FLYER

  43. Alaska Airlines used to fly to Russia. It was a long time ago, when they were still Alaska Star. Ravn used to serve these remote towns much more frequently, so the twice a week flights from Alaska will be critical for moving cargo too.

  44. I’ve done the “Adak & back” via C-141. Adak, the only town in America where the bald eagles outnumber residents. And everywhere on buildings and utility poles they congregate like street thugs waiting to pluck out the eye or scalp passerby : )

    Adak to Russia? I don’t think so. The Kamchatka Peninsula while having some great fishing is also the location of highly sensitive Russian defense installations. The last scheduled commercial flight that even wandered close to the peninsula was KAL flight 007, a 747-200 with 269 on board – all killed when the airplane was shot down by air to air missile. The USSR might be gone but be assured the bear remains.

  45. Yeah I’ve been to ADK and DUT as well as the milk run!! Honestly the flights themselves are beautiful seeing the Aleutians from the window, and the communities have centuries of history that unfortunately has been forgotten by much of the US

    The accident at DUT last year was really sad though and the lack of coverage on it just goes to show to what extent the rest of the US forgets about these communities

  46. I have been visiting Cold Bay for about 33 years- every year- To visit friends, salmon fish and do some ptmargin hunting. It is truly a ‘one-of -kind’ ‘places. In WWII it was the site of Fort Randle with approximately 15, 000 U.S. troops. It was set up to defend against any Japanese invasion and to prevent any stronghold by Japan forces that could be used to stage bombing runs on the U.S. mainland. One of the bloodiest battles was fought at Attu , an Island further north where the Japanese landing and used as staging place to launch an attack on Dutch Harbor. IN the 70’s Cold Bay was owned by the Fling Tigers as a refuel stop for Tigers flight using DC-8 cargo planes servicing Asia and during the Vietnam War. When larger aircraft became available ( 747s), Tigers no longer needed and sold to Reeve Aleutian, who used it as a hub for the entire area. At one time there where probably over 400 folks there, but when Reeve went of business, it shrank to less than 100 souls, mostly working for the weather service and the airport facility.
    It is truly an interesting place, with many active volcanoes nearby, Pavlov etc. Not much to do, 1 store with attached bar that is open 2-3 times a week lately and a few hotel rooms. Thee are no restaurants ( frozen pizza in bar when it is open). Great people and truly a small Alaskan ‘village’.
    So happy that AS is straying service after RAVN stopped flying as there is no other service. Can’t wait to be there later this year

  47. Someone once asked Reeve “How can you make money flying to such a remote place?”
    His response: “Take a look at the ticket.”
    (It was expensive.)

  48. I arrived Adak by submarine in 1962 and departed on a Navy R5D (DC4) to Kodiak. Interesting Navy place at that time. Does anyone else remember the Adak National Forest?

  49. I’ve been to Dutch Harbor and Adak a few times, by way of a US Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter.

    Each time to Adak it was snowy, windy and cold. Not a tree in sight. It didn’t bother all the Bald Eagles, aka “The Alaskan Pigeon”. They make perches of any high place they can find, be it a telephone pole, tall building or ship mast. A very common sight regardless the local in Alaska.

    I have forgotten why we went into Dutch Harbor. It was either for food and/or to top off our fuel. Not a lot there. Just the homes of those who live and work there, the warehouses serving the fishing fleet, a couple of bars and the airfield. Again, not a tree in sight. Plenty of the aforementioned Bald Eagles and more than enough Sea Gulls going nuts over the smell of fish and crab. They can get to them, but they do try. Plenty of snow, wind and cold during the winter months. Lots of wind during the summer months.

    Just my memories of 30 years ago. Not a place for me these days. Too many health issues bind me to the lower 48. Would I return to Alaska if I could? In a heartbeat. I loved my time in the Coast Guard, on a 378′ High Endurance Cutter, in the Bering Sea. Semper Paratus!

  50. I went to Adak last June, 2019 and had a good time. There are no hotels and camping would be a real challenge with the weather and winds. Wind, rain, and fog at some point just about every day interspersed with brilliant CAVU periods. The island is a beautiful place, where it hasn’t been developed, which is most of it. There is a couple that rents 3 or 4 two or three bedroom condos for about $300/day that include a pickup truck, which you need b/c the place is too big to explore on foot. The whole deserted Navy base is still there to be explored along with several generations of base housing which have weathered in various stages of destruction from the winds and weather. It’s a shame all of those nice facilities have mostly been abandoned and left to the elements. Groceries, alcohol, and other necessities should be brought with you as they are hard to get or non-existent once you get there. It’s a wonderful, but not cheap, experience for the adventurous and self-sufficient traveller but would be a nightmare for anyone expecting to be catered to.

  51. We had three trees on Shemya when I was there 73-74 (no women behind them) when they grew above the berm around the pond the wind SUCKED them over…

  52. I’ve done a handful of detachments/deployments to Adak in the ’80s flying P-3’s. Last time was with Patrol Squadron Fifty. We had a requirement to land with 21,000 pounds of fuel as our alternate was Elmendorf AFB (Anchorage.) One day we shot two approaches to runway 23 and went missed both time due to crosswinds at the runway. Crew was very pleased as liberty was much better in Anchorage that was in Adak. Terrible weather but good memories.

  53. I did a handful of detachments/deployments to Adak in the ’80s flying P-3’s. Last time was with Patrol Squadron Fifty. We had a requirement to land with 21,000 pounds of fuel at Adak as our alternate was Elmendorf AFB (Anchorage.) One day we shot two approaches to runway 23 and went missed both time due to crosswinds at the runway. Crew was very pleased diverting to Elmendorf as liberty was much better in Anchorage that it was in Adak. Terrible weather but good memories.

  54. Jim, We monitored the tower traffic on Shemya and Cobra Ball was happy to divert due to cross winds – run off area was the Bering Sea. Note: While on the fall 1974 cruise on the USNS Arnold (PONY EXPRESS) in the BOA I was sun bathing on the back deck and out of corner of my eye I spied a P-3 heading right at us low level with one engine feathered – dropped a sonar buoy right next to us …

  55. I am intrigued. if Alaska does drop the 14 day quarantine by the time they stop this seasonal route are the 300 residents of Adak going to think I am a selfish idiot for exposing them to COVID?

  56. Spent a year on Shemya 1971-72. Every day at lunchtime we would go to the north end of the island, grab a handful of rocks and carry them to the south end. We were moving Shemya down to Hawaii. Also this story: Reeves Airline pilot to Control Tower – “Please turn on the runway lights”. Control Tower to Reeves Airline pilot “The weather is bad you cannot land here, go back to Anchorage”. Reeves Airline Pilot to Control Tower – “We have already landed, we need to taxi to the hangar”.

  57. Spent 4 years in an Infantry Battalion stationed at Fort Rich in the late 70’s. Just loved the hell out of it despite the cold weather. Never was able to get out to the Interior of Alaska nor any of the adjoining areas. Our Battalion flew up to KING SALMON Air Base for Infantry Tactics Training. Can you imagine young Army Soldiers running Tactics in the surrounding Tundra? What a farce. Plenty of local Black Berries (?) that the local bears feed on though. The troops delighted in that and had to scold them to keep them going. When we reached out objective….every soldier in the unit had “berry stains” running out their mouths. What a sight. Beautiful memories though.

  58. I have been to Cold Bay and Dutch Harbor. I have not been to Adak. Adak sounds like an interesting place to visit.

    I have been to all three of the Wrangell Islands in the State of Alaska and even to
    Bennett Island, De Long Island which is farther West of Adak.

    At Cape Hawai’i on Wrangell Island (known also as New Columbia Land until July
    29, 1901), Alaska one can view the markings in the grown where STOL aircraft have landed and taken off.

    It was on August 12, 1881 that a landing party from the USRM Steamer Thomas CORWIN took formal Possession of New Columbia Land for the US Government.

    Then on May 17, 1884, the Alaska Board at the US Department of the Treasury place six additional island in Alaska in the District of Alaska, viz., Bennett, Forrester, Henrietta, Herald, Jeannette, and Wrangell. This was done under the authority of Section 1 of the Harrison Alaska Organic Act. It was also
    confirmed by the US Board on Geographic Names on July 29, 1901.

  59. I’ve done the Adak flight several times, and it is indeed special! It’s a very expensive ticket, so it’s usually cheaper to buy AS miles to redeem an award flight for as little as 5,000 miles from Juneau or Anchorage (compared to paying $1200+ cash).

    Adak itself is fascinating. During the Cold War, it was the 4th largest city in Alaska. No one knew about it, though, as the Navy base was top secret and only those with military orders could visit. The base closed in 1997, and the island has been stuck in time for 23 years. All of the buildings are open, including the air traffic control tower, bunkers that stored nuclear weapons, fallout shelters, aircraft hangars, and an entire underground city featuring swimming pools, a movie theater, radio station, etc. When you tire of exploring the military based, Adak has phenomenal bird watching and many people visit for caribou hunting.

    A few enterprising residents rent houses on the former base, as well as pickup trucks. These “Dodge and Lodge” rates usually go for about $150/day with a one-week stay. There are only two flights a week, so it makes sense to stay a while. You really need to bring your own food, as the store is very limited and the single restaurant/bar is not very predictable.

    If you can make it, go!

  60. In the early 90’s I used to fly between ANC and Magaden, Russia (GDX) on Alaska Air. The plane would then continue to Vladivostok where it would overnight before returning. The schedule was once a week. It was a 4 hour flight across the Bering Sea to Magaden. The plane was a MD 80, a somewhat inappropriate aircraft due to the limited hold capacity. One could only take 1 checked bag because the limited hold capacity was taken up by a large amount of spare parts. There was no possibility to have the plane serviced en route and a flight mechanic flew on every flight. The rear seats of the aircraft always had a significant amount of luggage strapped in that would normally be in the hold. The views out the window were mesmerizing and surreal; a totally different world compared to your usual transcon. It is an old, unusual route that is ancient history today. I can imagine that the trip to Adak is as equally exotic today except you don’t need a passport.

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