Hi all, I'd like to tell you about my trip on the last scheduled revenue flight on an Alaska 732. This trip took place on Thursday, March 29. I decided to do something completely foolish by booking a flight out to Adak Island (ADK) and back on the same day, just so I could get on the last 732 flight. The flight that I ended up taking that day ended up being far more interesting than a normal flight to an island halfway to Japan.
I left FAI on AS62, a normal 734 flight to ANC. We were served water, orange juice or coffee, and pretzels. Nothing too special to report, after about 45 minutes we were in ANC. I had a couple hours in ANC before AS138, ANC-AKN (King Salmon) -ADK left, so I spent some time in the observation lounge watching countless cargo 747's and MD-11's coming and going.
Finally it was time to get on the flight to Adak, via King Salmon. The 732 was configured with 6 pallets of cargo, and 26 seats. I was in 16A, the first row behind the bulkhead. Here's a pic of the cabin.
And if you're curious about what's behind the door, here's a pic of that.
There were 21 people on the short flight to King Salmon. Just like the flight from Fairbanks, this was an unremarkable flight. We were served pretzels with orange juice, coffee or water, and after a little less than an hour, we were in King Salmon. 11 people got off the plane, and this is where the story gets interesting. But before I get into that, here's a shot of the King Salmon apron.
After the King Salmon passengers get off, the captain announces that we will be fueling up for the flight to Adak, and that will take about 45 minutes. So a few more people get off the plane to smoke and stretch their legs. This left about 5 of us on the plane chatting with the flight attendants. I learned more about toilets on various planes than I ever thought I would in that conversation. Anyways, the captain comes into the cabin through that nifty little door in the bulkhead and tells us that the weather in Adak is a no go. There were crosswinds of 40 knots, and gusts up to 80 knots. So he told us that he has a special surprise for us because this is the last commercial flight of the 732, and his retirement flight. We just have to be patient because he needs to transfer fuel from the center tank to the wing tanks because we won't be on the long flight to Adak as expected.
It turns out that the special surprise was that he got special permission to go on a volcano tour. This special tour involved flying at 15,000 feet, and doing circles around the volcanoes. Shortly after takeoff, the flight attendants served us lunch, because they had tons of meals loaded for the flight to Adak and back. This lunch consisted of a warm turkey sandwich, Matanuska Thunder Chips, and a molasses cookie. Not too bad for an hour long flight. Since pictures speak much more than words, I have very little to say about the flight, and will let the pictures do the taking.
This is a braided river, I'm not sure which one, but my best guess is that it's the Alagnak River.
These are some mountains in the Cook Inlet, looking at my atlas, it might be the the Fourpeaked Mountain area.
This is Augustine Volcano, notable for sitting on its own island in the Cook Inlet, and for erupting last year burying much of Southcentral Alaska in ash. It's 4,134 feet tall.
This is Mount Iliamna, not notable for much, but it's 10,016 feet tall.
I'm not sure what this is, but I think it's pretty. Upon consultation with my atlas, I believe that it's Crescent Lake, maybe.
Now this is the highlight of the tour, Mount Redoubt. This is the volcano that erupted in 1989, and tried to crash a KLM 747. If you look under the wing, you can see that it blew out the side in that eruption. Redoubt stands at 10,197 feet, and remember that we were flying at 15,000, so we were amazingly close, for being in a jet.
Now the tour is coming to a close, and the last picture is on approach to Anchorage, a lovely view of the engine and some ice flows in Cook Inlet.
So that is the story of the last scheduled revenue flight of Alaska's 732 (I say last scheduled because it was substituted on several flights later that day). I hope you all enjoyed the volcano tour as much as I did. This is a memory that I will take with me for a long long time. I would like to leave you with one last picture, my favorite picture of N741AS, to say goodbye to an old friend.
Photo © Karl - Peter Ritter