Merrill Field flights cleared for takeoff as fog lifts
Clear skies on Wednesday morning meant runways at Merrill Field were once again filled with the familiar hum of small planes taking off after many were grounded for days due to heavy fog.
At Lake Clark Air, chief pilot Glen Alsworth said he found a way around the low visibility by flying out of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and landing at any airport that was open.
“Whatever it takes,” he said. “We’ve driven into Palmer this last week, driven to Birchwood, over to Anchorage International. Whatever it takes to do it safely.”
Port Alsworth resident Darcy Lorentzen knows if they get stuck for a day it’s possible to be stuck for “a week,” she laughed.
“You learn to adjust and not to worry about it because you want to be safe,” she added.
She said her family is used to life off the road system and what it takes to make it home.
“You look in advance to see what it’s going to be and whether you’re going to get out and plan accordingly,” Lorentzen explained. “You learn to be flexible because that’s just the bush life.”
Her family and other passengers didn’t have to wait long as crews loaded up cargo.
“We’re going to Pedro Bay, Kokhanok and Nondalton,” Alsworth said.
He knows how important flights are for rural Alaska communities.
“When the weather is down and precludes flying it’s more than inconvenient it’s life threatening if we have people who have medical needs,” he said.
Pilots took advantage of the break in the weather because they never know when the fog is going to roll in again.
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