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INNOKO: Alaska State Troopers Conduct “Ski Plane/Winter Survival” Clinic Refuge
Alaska Region, March 7, 2010
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Alaska State Wildlife Troopers attend ski plane/winter survival clinic on Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (Photo by Mike Bye)
Alaska State Wildlife Troopers attend ski plane/winter survival clinic on Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (Photo by Mike Bye) - Photo Credit: n/a
State Troopers begin the morning by heating up their airplanes (Photo by Mike Bye)
State Troopers begin the morning by heating up their airplanes (Photo by Mike Bye) - Photo Credit: n/a

The week of March 7 was a busy time at the Innoko NWR field camp.  March 10th through March 12th found the Alaska State Troopers, Brown Shirt Division, conducting a ski plane/winter survival clinic on Innoko NWR.  Troopers from Bethel, Kotzebue, Fairbanks, Aniak, Galena, and McGrath areas were in attendance.

A tremendous amount of planning and logistics went into making a clinic of this size a success.  Mike Bye, maintenance worker for Innoko NWR, was in attendance during the entire clinic to make sure the field camp was run in a smooth and safe manner.

Innoko NWR proved to be an excellent classroom setting to conduct the ski/survival clinic. With many varied landing conditions and surfaces to conduct ski instruction on, experienced to inexperienced pilots could find a surface or different condition to challenge their ability.  An accomplished ski plane pilot never gets enough practice with the many different challenges they face in their day to day flying jobs.

Although electricity was available to preheat the trooper’s airplanes they chose not to use it, but instead used fuel fired Northern Companion heaters that they keep in the airplanes for just such an emergency.  The troopers, in order to simulate having dead batteries, were not allowed to use the starters on their airplanes.  They had to start their airplane by turning the propeller by hand.  Also, to simulate being stranded alone in a remote area they provided and cooked their own meals.  This was definitely a true learning experience as the temperatures at night fell to -30F.

Innoko NWR was very pleased to be able to provide the classroom setting and use of our field camp for this ski plane/winter survival clinic.  Co-operation between the Innoko NWR and Alaska State Troopers is vital to the accomplishment of our fish and wildlife management goals and objectives.

Everyone in attendance thought the clinic was a great success, even though the temperatures were extremely cold and they had to eat their own cooking!

(Report prepared by Refuge Pilot Ken Richardson)


Contact Info: Dara Whitworth, (907) 524-3251, dara_whitworth@fws.gov



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