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Flying to Alaska Day 11-13, Stuck in Fairbanks

August, 2016

I’m stuck for a few days in Fairbanks, not only because of the alternator problem, but the weather has caught up to me and it is raining day and night – not flying weather.  Fortunately, I also have a real tent and don’t have to use that stupid bivy sack so I’m dry, and there is a community camp shelter with a wood stove and free firewood so I’m warm.

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Sweet Fairbanks airport camping

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Community shelter complete with stove and a pile of firewood!

The campground even sports a real bathroom including a shower. There is a couple, Ken and Debra, also in the campground and between us we keep a fire going for three days.  Ken and Debra flew a Piper Cub up from Anchorage on the way to a small horticulture conference in Barrow, which they will eventually miss because of the weather.

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Ken and Debra’s Piper

A local aircraft mechanic, Dave Stoots, stops by and even among his teasing about me being from California and my “cute” little red folding bike, he jumps in and starts working on my alternator problem.  Dave runs Stoots Aviation and he holds STC’s for High Performance Lycoming Engine Conversions. I’m not the first stranded pilot he’s helped and has friends around the globe.  He takes all of us on a tour of Fairbanks and the next day to the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. It was an unexpectedly fun time in Fairbanks.

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Alternator replacement should be pretty simple, right? Not quite.

Dave claims one of the last Californians he’s met flew into Bettles in the Brooks Range to backpack similar to what I did at Anaktuvuk Pass.  He made it ¼ of a mile before twisting his ankle in the uneven tundra, calling the trip off, then crashing his plane on take-off at Bettles.  But, Dave pointed out, I don’t wear tights like this guy did (he wasn’t hurt in the crash).  They fixed up the plane enough to ferry it under special permit to Fairbanks, where it had major work done before it could be flown back to California.

Next: Into the Yukon

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