Wings of the Tern Blog

April 27, 2010

Ferry Flights to Alaska

Filed under: Current Posting — wingsofthetern @ 4:07 pm

During the years that I worked in Alaska, I made many flights up through Canada.  In the 70’s it was pretty straight forward and (most of the time) hassle free.  I’m glad that I don’t have to do it now with all the Homeland Security issues.

Flying into Canada was always a pleasure.  The Canadian Customs people were always polite in welcoming a Ferry Pilot through their country.  The US Customs people were mostly Ass Holes.  After several days on the road and finally reaching my home state, instead of being welcomed home, they treated me like some kind of crook.

I will always remember one occasion when I landed at Northway, Alaska, to clear customs.  It was late in the afternoon and I was anxious to be inspected and get back on the road so I could make it to Anchorage that day.  While the custom guy was asking questions and inspecting the aircraft I began to climb up on the helicopter to inspect the rotor head in preparation for my next take off. I had done this on many previous occasions, but all of a sudden, the customs guy got really mad and demanded that I climb back down.  He had me follow him into the office where he got on the telephone to someone else.  At the end of his telephone conversation, he hung up and apologized for the delay.  He said that I had matched the description of someone who was trying to carry in 100 tons of Marianna into the states.  My response was “In a Alloutte II?”  With all my gear and fuel, I (maybe) had about 700 lbs of usable payload remaining.  I wondered what part of my current look was the key to his suspicion.  At the time, I had a beard, baseball cap, leather flight jacket, blue jeans and tennis shoes.  I looked just like every helicopter pilot who flew in Alaska!


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