Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Big Plane on a Small Runway

     It's not everyday I get a chance to be much to close to a Boeing 727 while it lands on a runway built for small planes.  But on this day, February 26, 2013 FedEx was donating its Boeing 727 to the University of Alaska Anchorage's aviation maintenance program.

I arrived at the airport prepared to stand safely on a bank of snow behind the chain link fence.  I was amidst a crowd on mostly retirement age people (naturally, as it was 1:30pm on a Tuesday where only retired people and Kindergarten TA's like myself have time off).  As we all stood waiting two cars pulled up who had access to the airstrip with a gate opener on their cars.  We all just stood there while the gate gaped open for seemingly minutes after the cars drove through.  Nobody moved.  We were liked caged zoo animals who had just let freedom slip through their paws and cloven hooves.

We soon realized our folly.  However, my biggest concern was an encounter with the law for trespassing without permission as one wrong encounter and I'd be deported back to Canada faster than I could say "poutine."

Shortly after a trio of young men who seemed up to something came to the gate with a piece of paper with several numeric codes on it saying, "one of these has to work."  Using my investigative reasoning learned at photojournalism school, I deduced that they probably weren't who those codes were originally intended for.  Well, one worked and the retirees and I marched on through not to miss our chance twice.

Turns out it was fine and I got a much better vantage point.  Who needs a press pass when you ban together with the elderly?

The plane made two intentional passes before touching down on the third pass.