Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting a flight out of Portage

The outlet of Karluk Lake

Mary and I digging on the first day

The Karluk River
Once we made the decision that I needed to go back to town if at all possible, it proved to be a lot harder than I expected to get on a flight. It wouldn't have been a total disaster if I'd had to stay out there - I just would have been completely useless and very uncomfortable. The first thing we did was call my mom on the satellite phone and have her try to find me a seat fare on a float plane coming back from somewhere near Portage where I was staying on the Karluk River. My mom called all the local flying services and they all said the same thing: they had no seats available for several days. My last option was to call my friend Keller who flies for Island Air. I had to have my mom go find my iPhone at home, turn it on, and read me his cell number. I was so relieved that Keller answered his phone! When I told him what was going on, he didn't hesitate for a second. He said of course he would come pick me up; he'd be on the south end of Kodiak in a couple of hours and would have an extra seat. I am so lucky to have a friend like Keller who is willing to go out of his way to help out because Island Air had just told my mom a few minutes earlier that they had no seats!

Rain and fog set in shortly after I talked to Keller though and it was apparently even worse in town; he didn't make it out that night. He said he would be trying first thing the next morning though. I called him again at 8:30am the next morning and he told me he'd be leaving town at 9 and should be at Portage to pick me up around 10:30. The plane that showed up to get me wasn't Keller though, it was a Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge plane. The pilot said he had an extra seat and Keller had asked him to pick me up. I didn't ask too many questions, relieved just to be heading back to town.

When I got to town I called Keller to thank him. He told me that just before he was about to take off at 9am, the Island Air office told him that someone had called and said I didn't need a pick up anymore. Thank goodness Keller immediately knew that wasn't right because he had just talked to me 30 minutes earlier. Island Air told him that Andrew Air was picking me up on a charter. So Keller took matters into his own hands and called Andrew Air while he was taxiing in the float plane! Andrew Air had no idea  what he was talking about so Keller was determined to still come get me at Portage. Island Air, however, was going to charge the Alutiiq Museum an arm and a leg for my flight. On one of his stops on the south end of the island, Keller ran into the Wildlife Refuge pilot and arranged for him to pick me up, knowing I wouldn't be charged a fare. Between Keller, my mom, the Alutiiq Museum, and I, we are still not sure what happened with the arrangement to have me picked up. Apparently some wires got crossed somewhere and Island Air thought I worked for Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game or something and would be picked up by a charter. All I know for sure is that I am very grateful to Keller for not giving up on getting me out of Portage and to the Refuge pilot, Kevin for agreeing to pick me up on very short notice!! Between those two pilots and the doctor who agreed to see me after hours, I am very glad to be from a small town.

1 comment:

  1. Keller is the bomb.. The underwater camera is pretty awesome too. Your hands are gross! Aloe plant ftw.