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Airport uses car lights to lite runway for Alaska medical flight

A child was waiting to be flown to Anchorage, but the pilot of a LifeMed Alaska flight could not see the runway at the airport in Igiugig, Alaska, officials said. ( More...

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WhiteKnight77 10
Do what one has to when there is a dire need. Good on the villagers to help light the runway to help the little girl get the medical care she needed.
Robert Fleury 7
In 1972, I was a co-pilot on DC-3 based in Fort Chimo (now Kuujjuaq), Ungava Bay. Around 11PM, my captain called me to ask if I was welling to fly the DC-3 with him to the village of Leaf Bay (Tasiujaq) 60nm to the west. Over a 2-summer period, the company had competed a small gravel strip about 1,700 ft long, daytime operation only. Being winter, it was to be pitch black out there but a patient on the eve of giving birth presented a Fetal Cord Entanglement and the solitary nurse on duty for the village did not feel she could take responsibility for this delivery. When I asked my captain how people were planning to light the runway, he replied that he had no idea but that he had been promised that it would be lit like Dorval International... Believe it or not, you could see a strip of light at least 20 miles before reaching our destination. People had emptied just about every large tin cans available, filled them with kerosene, and planted bundles of sanitary napkins in them to make torches. A few snowmobiles directed their headlights towards the approach and a few others showed their red lights at the end of the runway. All went well. Ironically, on the return flight, while we could normally discern Fort Chimo's position from a very good distance, there was nothing to see. We thought at first that a layer of clouds had crept under our altitude but at the time of our ETA, we could see the lights of snowmobiles moving in the streets of the village. The power plant had broken down and the airport's emergency generator set had not taken over... When the s…. its the fan!!!
Robert Fleury 2
hits, not its!!!
canuck44 6
Many years ago on a nasty late August night I had the "pleasure" to fly off HMCS Preserver through snow flurries to Cape Hope's Advance on the very Northern tip of Quebec at the entrance to Ungava Bay. Our mission was to recover a radio operator who was having chest pain. In those days our Sea Kings had no radar or TACAN so it was dead reckoning and an HF beacon and radar from from our ship. Magnetic compass was useless. We were told to look for burning oil barrels which we eventually spotted. As we tried to set down the Eskimo kids were all on the "pad" waving, necessitating me being hoisted down to chase them off. They had dragged the patient almost half a mile over rocky paths to reach us. We quickly loaded him on board and got back guided by our ship which we finally saw lit up from half a mile.
Once in our ship's hospital, we got four layers of clothes off him got an IV in his 260 lb body and flew him to Fort Chimo in descent weather the next day. This guy lucked out for the aircraft and pilots were not ours but from one of our DDH ships and were only onboard to have the crew commander's dentures fixed by Toothie. Since none in their right minds thought they would fly that night, our pilots would need eight hours to fly after dinner.
dmanuel 4
Perhaps, being a small village, it might be possible to identify the party that vandalized the lights. I am sure that the mother and father of the child could explain the importance of civil responsibility and with assistance from other members of the tribe, provide instructional guidance so the offending party could assist with repairs.
linbb 2
Too bad that with all the govenment support to make things at these communities safe to live in the people in them dont seem to care. Not much you can fix about this problem its the parents who raise there kids to be jerks.
I love sarcasm in the morning!!
william baker 1
Dont worry im sure the Alaskan State Trooper know whom the interested party is.
Roger Rudduck 3
As a retired Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland) I have fond memories of annually training at a remote airstrip by doing at least three take off and landings using only four car headlights.
geroldn 5
22 years ago I was at the hospital in Randolph, Vermont while my wife was in labor with our son. In the evening a call went out over the public address system to 'clear the parking lot'. As I looked out her hospital room window, everyone moved their cars, the local fire department showed up and lit up a landing spot with fire truck headlights, and a few minutes later a medevac helicopter landed. I asked my wife's nurse and was told that was standard procedure.
ferminbf 2
Congratulations to everyone and villagers involved helping to make that child be flown to Anchorage for medical treatment.
jptq63 2
Given the comments in the article about the lights being vandalized or just accidentally damaged and it implying it happens at various strips every so often, wonder / feedback if a flare (thinking a parachute type) could be used to illuminate the area; might need a 2nd or 3rd one to ensure sufficient time / coverage of the area (think these are typically good for about 5 minutes of light). Yes, risk to an aircraft, but would think one a single person could use this vs. having to round up several car / vehicles and the flare gun could easily be kept in a secure location at the strip for emergency use. I do not think these would be all that expensive and likely pretty reliable (relatively) given use only for emergencies.
John Connelly 2
Using tour vans to light runways in Kenya for emergency evacuation is not uncommon.
bentwing60 1
from a pilots stand point, it ain't an ILS, and they knew it, and, somebody had to do it! They did! It's why the checks cash!
That has been done here in Australia many times for medivac flights


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