Fairbanks Aviation: Then & Now

Fascinating articles that give insight into the past and the future of aviation in Fairbanks. Back to the Guide.

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Fairbanks Aviation Insights

There are many mile­stones in Fair­banks Aviation.

The ear­li­est peo­ple to live on the land now called Alas­ka arrived by foot on the Bering Land Bridge. Thou­sands of years lat­er, a river­boat car­ried E.T. Bar­nette, the acci­den­tal founder of Fair­banks, up the Chena River.

For pilots or pas­sen­gers on char­tered flights, the arch is a sym­bol­ic start to their jour­ney into rur­al Alas­ka. Unlike with major air car­ri­ers, most of the flights that leave from this half of the air­port are des­tined for small vil­lages or wilder­ness areas with only a hand­ful of peo­ple and a very spe­cif­ic pur­pose in mind.

Ear­ly avi­a­tors in the Alaskan Ter­ri­to­ry fre­quent­ly made do with­out pre­pared land­ing strips, putting their air­plane down wher­ev­er air trans­porta­tion was required.

Each year, pro­duc­tion teams vis­it this air­port to shoot footage for movies set in the WWII era, and air­plane enthu­si­asts from around the world scan the skies for a glimpse into the past.

The avi­a­tion main­te­nance pro­gram is the old­est voca­tion­al pro­gram in the statewide uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem, and is grow­ing in leaps and bounds. Per­haps sur­pris­ing­ly, there is even greater demand for these ser­vices in the Inte­ri­or and Arc­tic regions than near Anchor­age or Juneau.

In rur­al Alaskan vil­lages with no road access, near­ly all goods must be trans­port­ed by air. This includes fuel, which requires spe­cial air­craft equipped with alu­minum tanks to han­dle 2,0005,000 gal­lons of fuel and cer­ti­fied by the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Administration.