Saturday, March 25, 2006

147. The airport is a fake!

When I first was shown the “airport” from the outside (see photo in entry 25). I did not look inside at the time. I assumed there was some guy working there, sitting at a desk looking bored, with a coffee pot and stale coffee. He had one phone line. He had the day’s plane schedule, and if you needed to know what time a plane was coming, you could call.
On a later date I checked inside the airport. It is a fake! The building was empty, except for some garbage on the floor! Now it is filled with snow since it does not have a door that closes. There is no one working there.
People wait for the plane outside by the end of the runway. There is no processing of any type to get on the flight. I assume the pilots are told by the airlines how many people are getting on, and the pilot makes sure he or she has the right number (but I’m not even sure about that). They don’t check or label your luggage or anything; you just put it on the plane, either in one of the storage areas beneath the plane or in the back of the passenger area (which hold about ten passengers assuming all the seats are in place, but often the seats are removed to make room for a shipment to one of the local stores.) I hope no one is interested in hijacking one of their planes.
It is hard to be sure when to meet one of the planes because their schedule changes from one day to the next. There is a VHS station that Deering uses to make announcements to the village; anyone with a VHS radio can just make an announcement. The airlines announce when the planes are about five minutes away from landing so anyone who want to meet a plane knows to go to the airstrip (about a mile away from the village).
We have problems sometimes. Last month I went to Anchorage to see a dentist. I had a flight from Kotzebue to Anchorage on Thursday afternoon. My plan was to take the Wednesday afternoon flight from Deering to Kotzebue on Bering Airlines and stay overnight in Kotzebue. The plane leaves Kotzebue at four, and either flies to Buckland then Deering then back to Kotzebue, or flies to Deering then Buckland then back to Kotzebue. I was getting everything in my classroom ready for a sub after school on Wednesday when someone came to my classroom around three thirty to say that the airline called and was changing the schedule that day and would be landing in Deering in ten minutes. I did not catch that flight. The next morning I figured I’d get the Frontier flight that goes from Nome to Deering at nine in the morning to Kotzebue, but when I called the airline I was told that the plane in Nome was broken. I did not want to take the Bering flight that morning because I had to stop at the police station in Kotzebue to get fingerprinted for the Alaska Department of Education, and that flight might not leave me enough time. I called Bering to try to make a reservation for ten that morning anyway, when Frontier called me back and said they would fly another plane out of Kotzebue just to Deering and Buckland.
Suppose someone wants to sneak into Deering? Guess they could land here, and hope no one notices them. (Not likely!) They would have a hard time getting to the village. As you may have guessed, there is no public transportation between the airstrip and the village. Everyone has to make arrangements in advanced to be picked up. (There is also no way to call anyone from the airstrip to tell them to come get you.) Actually, anyone who wanted to sneak in here could do it by snowmachine from a nearby village. If you are travelling by snowmachine you are supposed to let someone at your destintion know so they can call Search & Rescue in case you don't show up. (A few people die of exposure when the weather turns bad or they get lost.)
The photograph is of the runway in Deering, taken from a plane in the air.

Hello there
Very interesting to find a Jew in such a remot place.
I am an Israeli Journalist from Jerusalem. I think I would like to write a story about you there.
Meanwhile please read my blog:
Germania Capta
What? No photo credit?
sorry! My brother took the photograph.
Wow, since I worry about making connections and missing people even at airports that HAVE staff and telephones and things like that, I would really have a field day fretting about what could go wrong here. The plane just flies away and leaves you unsheltered miles from town? What if the person coming is delayed? Like what if they can't find their snowmobile keys? Even if one doesn't die of exposure, that's got to be an incomfortable wait.
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