In 1966 my mother’s cousin Patsy Flannigan flew with her husband Larry to Fairbanks Alaska. Larry had a Mooney M20 based at Gardner airport. Another pilot (Jim) had flown his Mooney to the Kansas City area to visit family. While he was here he broke his leg in an accident. Jim asked Larry if he would fly back with him and Patsy went along. Here is her first person account.
We left Gardner Kansas (K34) at 5:30 am June 1st, 1966 for Fairbanks, Alaska. Never thought we would ever be doing this! Radio receiving fine but sending, not too good! Air is real smooth with a little haze. Topeka VOR in 15 minutes (136 KPH).
8:15 stopped at Ainsworth, Nebraska (ANW) (117 KPH). Boys had coffee and I had 7-Up we all had a roast beef sandwich. Left at 9:30 for Rapid City VOR and continued to and landed at Lewiston, Montana (LWT).
Discovered half way there that we were lost and one hump looked like all the others. We flew around for two hours and after climbing to 10,000 feet picked up the LWT omni. Not too much panic! Fuel pretty low and the guys tell me not to worry if the engine quits as they are just draining the tank! Sure they are!
Larry is still having headaches but I am fine. We went through mild turbulence and Jim had it rough time for about 2 ½ hours. We are getting the radio worked on and Larry is taking a short nap in the repair shack. He is flying beautifully and I sure am proud of him. We left Lewiston at 5:40 MT on our way to Canada.
Landed Calgary, Alberta at 7:30 and went through customs. Went down town Calgary and stayed at Hotel Wales where we called home. We walked around down town and had dinner. We left a wake up call for 4:00 am. The coffee shop was closed but the bellboys gave us a pot of coffee and me a pot of hot water. I had my own tea bag. Mrs. Weiss coffee Cake sure was good!
Well, it didn’t do much good to roll out at 4:00 AM as we finally got into the air at 12:45. With low clouds, overcast and turbulence we will not be making the time we did yesterday. At 2:30 we landed at Whitecourt, AB for fuel and a potty stop. We needed to bring fuel from outside the airport.
We left at 5:30 PM. It was still overcast until 15 minutes out of Whitecourt. We then started climbing up off the tree tops where we had been all morning. We landed at Fort St. John at 6:30. Waited for a ride into town and got to our hotel at 8:30. We went out to eat and called home. We asked for a 4:00 wake up call and hope we can leave on time.
Much to our dismay, we got out of Fort St. John at 1:25. We got into bad weather. A group of four in a twin Comanche was turned back on our route. So we all had to wait from 4:00 AM until 1:25 PM. The Comanche left about one hour ahead of us and kept sending back weather reports so we could fly on to Fort Nelson.
Everyone has sure been nice to us and we’ve met some really nice folks. We are following the Alaska Highway now. This is the last leg before the mountains and weather is supposed to be good up the line.
We finally made it into Fort Nelson. We landed, fueled and took off at 4:00 PM. Larry is getting edgy. Landed at Whitehorse at 7:00 PM. Fuel truck held us up. I got to sleep in the sleeping bag in the airport terminal. We took off at 6:10 AM. It was a beautiful morning. The sun never goes down this time of year. We got to bed around 10:00 PM but it was still light. This has been the worst leg of our trip.
It was surprising we weren’t scared going through the mountains. They were close sometimes. There was nothing but the highway and trees.
It sure is a lot smoother this morning. We landed at Northway, Alaska at 6:30 AM. We got gas and breakfast and cleared customs. We took off at 7:35 AM. It was excellent weather on into Fairbanks. We landed at 8:30 AM local. We had to round up wheels and meet friends of Jim and went to their house to clean up. We then fooled around all morning.
We went out to eat around 1:00 and walked all over Fairbanks. Jim and his friends took us to the Eskimo museum and it sure was interesting. We drove around some. It really is like the frontier. The city is kind of spread out. The mountains are gorgeous. So is Mount McKinley. We tried for a photo but no luck. We went to Bruce’s house and had a wiener roast on the banks of the Chena River. He is planning to build a new home and it sure will be nice. He sure showed us a nice time. We flew Jim’s plane up to Clear, Alaska for the fellow who leased it and said goodbye to N1063C. We hope to see it again.
We boarded PanAm jet for Seattle at 1:00 AM (still light out). We had a little trouble with the tickets and checks. We landed in Seattle at 7:05 AM. This time change is a mess (in the air 3 hours and lost 4 hours). We dashed over to Continental Trailways and just had time to eat. The bus trip home was long and boring.