Ketchikan (International) Airport

Ketchikan, Alaska is not a large town, with perhaps 8 or 9 thousand within the city itself with another 7 thousand living outside it but on the same island.  Though you have to take a boat or plane to reach Ketchikan (as you cannot drive there by car), you can imagine that the airport at Ketchikan is not all that big.

As I mentioned in my prior post, I’ve been to Ketchikan twice.  During my visit this June, our tour guide pointed out that the locals get to brag that their airport is an “international”  airport.  The story of the “international” designation dates back to September 11, 2001, the day 4 commercial passenger jets were hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in the Virginia suburbs of DC, and a farm field in Pennsylvania.

All planes were ordered to be grounded across the USA and Canada that day.  International flights bound for the USA that day were re-routed to Canada.  A Canadian commercial passenger jet en-route between two Canadian locations happened to be closer to Ketchikan’s airport, so when the plane was ordered to be grounded, the plane was told to land in Ketchikan.  The pilot looked down at the relatively short runway in relation to the size of the aircraft he was flying.  Reportedly, his reaction was, “I have to land THIS on THAT????”  The plane landed safely.  That’s the story of Ketchikan’s first international flight arriving and departing from their humble airport.

Since that time, the runway has been lengthened for purposes of homeland security in case jets have to make emergency landings there in the future.

The Ketchikan airport is not located on the island that the city of Ketchikan is on.  Instead, the airport is located on an island populated by 50 persons, but the airport’s island is close to Ketchikan’s island.  There is just a narrow channel of water separating the two islands.  People going back and forth between the airport and Ketchikan must take a ferry across that channel.  There once was some talk of building a bridge to link the two islands, but that idea was shot down, as that proposed bridge was the infamous “bridge to nowhere.”

Perhaps that story might offer a slight idea of why certain politicians might have been for the bridge before they were against the bridge.

“Where men are men and women win the Iditarod”

My favorite quote from Sarah Palin’s speech at her homecoming in Alaska was the one that appears in the title.  Alaska is the state “where men are men and women win the Iditarod.” One of the feelings one gets from a Palin speech is a feeling of empowerment.

An Obama speech on the economy is one that is deflating, as he drives home a message that we just can’t make headway on the economy without the Federal government (led by an Obama-Biden White House, a filibuster-proof Democrat majority in the U.S. Senate, and a Democrat supermajority in the U.S. House of Representatives) rescuing us.  I don’t have confidence in our Congress.  So, if Obama and Biden tell me that they will partner with Congress to improve our economy, I have to say to myself that the outlook is quite bleak.  There is nothing empowering in the message of Obama.  It is a message of dependency designed to lure us toward greater socialism, and that path leads away from individual liberty.

Individual liberty is what has made us the best country on Earth, a position in the international pecking order that every other nation on earth envies.  The other nations will not become greater than America so long as their governments choose to retain more power than they relinquish to their people, and so long as we don’t allow our government to usurp more of the people’s power.

The reform message of McCain and Palin is an empowering one because it is couched in the candidates’ confidence in the people, not confidence in the government.

I am sure that the MSM, looking for dirt on Palin in Alaska, will find dirt.  Palin is not a perfect person, so I’m sure she’s made mistakes.  But she is not following in someone’s footsteps.  She’s blazing a new trail because the path that prior Alaskan governors took was one that led through quagmires of corruption.  There are times in my life that I blazed a new trail without a mentor, without footsteps of predecessors to tread in.  I made mistakes.  But I am so happy that I pushed back my horizons–those are the times in my life that are marked by achievements.  So, instead of looking at Sarah Palin to discover her mistakes, I’m looking at where the trail she blazed leads to.  It leads to government that subordinates itself more to the people.

Palin’s approval ratings hover around 80%.  It would be more useful for the MSM to discover what Palin is doing right than to only seek out the mistakes, and nothing more.  All the rest of the states have governors who make mistakes.  They could use a few pointers about how to do the job right.

The MSM thinks Palin’s approval ratings are an anomaly, an inexplicable phenomenon.  So they send their reporters to Alaska, commissioned with the task of finding Palin’s mistakes.  With those blinders on, the MSM will miss the explanation behind the approval ratings.  Let me assure the MSM that Sarah Palin did not arrive at the mountain top of public approval ratings by falling to the summit.  She climbed there.

I have been blessed to visit Alaska, the Last Frontier, on two occasions so far.  Alaska is very alluring.  I heartily recommend vacationing there.  I visited in July 2003 and in June of this year.  Let me give you a tiny peek at the land where men are men and women win the Iditarod.


In Ketchikan I rode in a small boat over the waves (lots of small jellyfish visible in the water) to an abandoned cannery that now serves as a museum where tourists become acquainted with Alaska’s fishing industry.  I attended a lumberjack show where log-rolling, pole-climbing, and other extreme sports feats (some of which get televised on ESPN from time to time) take place in an outdoor arena where audience members become acquainted with the lumber industry.  Most striking of all Ketchikan tours, though, is a journey into the folklore of some of Alaska’s indigenous peoples, the Tlingits, as exhibited by the finest totem-pole carving in the world.

In Juneau, I visited the state capitol (without any tour guide), marveled at the wares in the numerous souvenir shops, took a tram ride up Mt. Roberts, toured some ghost town ruins on Douglas Island (the photo is from the shoreline of Douglas Island looking back across the channel to the mainland near where Juneau is situated), and most amazingly of all, took a bus past Mendenhall Glacier to board a boat to have an encounter with humpback whales.  When the captain of the boat spotted some orca and some humpback whales, he cut off the engines and passed around binoculars so we could glimpse these magnificent creatures.  He explained that Federal law required them to stop a certain distance away from the whales.  We watched a pod of humpback whales surround a school of herrings, and the captain remarked how rare it was that we, as tourists, happened upon a collective feeding ritual that professional marine biologists wait for hours and days to catch a glimpse of.  Our delights did not end there.  Three humpback whales decided to come meet our boat!  They swam to us!  They not only approached closely enough to touch them with an extended arm (we restrained ourselves from doing so), but they swam under the boat and emerged on the other side!  What a thrill!

I had the opportunity to take a ferry from Skagway to Haines.  From Haines, we studied the wildlife, from the tidal basin, to the grassy meadows, to the steep mountain slopes.  Bald eagles soar through the skies, bears forage for food, and mountain goats defy gravity as they clamber up steep cliffs.

Also from Skagway, we took a ride on the White Pass and Yukon Scenic Railway, with a voice over an intercom pointing out natural wonders, such as thundering waterfalls and seismic fault lines, while telling us the tales of the Klondike gold rush of 1898.  The cog railway took us from sea level in a valley scooped out by glaciers, up a steep grade along mountain cliffs to the summit of the White Pass at the Canadian border.  Our journey also proceeded through portions of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory before returning us to our cruise ship docked in the fjord at Skagway.

I’d like America to feel a little more like Alaska, a place where you can sense exhilarating freedom. America, where men are empowered to be men, women are empowered to win, and the people are sovereign.