Feed & Fuel from Fairbanks

Kiana Travel Blog

 › entry 16 of 38 › view all entries
The DC-4 on the ramp at Kiana
 

Well I would have sworn that it was a DC-6 but our thundering ghost from the past is actually a DC-4. I thought that the Douglas DC-4 had only two engines but learned that the DC-4, the DC-6, and the DC-7 all have the same four engined wing with varying-sized fuselages and engines. Maybe it was the DC-5 that had only two engines, I forgot to ask. What do I know, being a helicopter guy.

 

Kiana Airport bustled with the arrival of the DC-4. Light aircraft were repositioned with a tow bar and 4-wheel ATV to make room for the beast to taxi close as possible to 'the silver bullet' which was our 2,000 gallon fuel storage tank on the eastern edge of the gravel ramp. While its four belching radial engines grumbled to a stop, a forklift was jockeyed into position adjacent the cargo side-door and six blue empty fuel drums were rolled under the right wing near the landing gear.

Off-loading a 740 pound freezer.
  Those would be filled and hauled to our camp for 'local' refueling of the helicopter. A flat-bed truck idled to a spot near the forklift, awaiting a load of merchandise for Lee's Sea-Air  Trading Post which was one of two general stores in town. Neither had the bulbs that I needed for my Mini Mag-Lite so I assumed that flash-light accessories were simply not priority items in the land of the midnight sun.

 

As soon as the wide cargo doors swung open, the forklift went to work.  A king-size mattress and box-spring, along with a large cardboard box, were eased onto the flat-bed truck. A 740 pound freezer came next. Then two pallets of groceries for our camp, boxed frozen meat and dry goods, and bagged fresh produce. Our third pallet held fifty cases, each containing thirty-two 20-ounce plastic bottles of Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water.

Four five hundred gallon bladders of jet-fuel.
The groceries were all quickly transported across the ramp and into the cargo nets that would be air-lifted to our camp beneath the helicopter.

 

Once the DC-4's cargo was off-loaded, I climbed a yellow twelve-foot ladder into the cargo bay. Four 500 gallon bladders were cinched to floor by thick nylon straps and chains. While the two-man crew hustled to connect lengths of black three-inch hose toward the silver bullet, I browsed the flight deck.

 

Most of the flight and engine instruments appeared original but the radios and navigation instruments  were as up-to-date as those of any modern-day aircraft.  The captain told me that they flew low, all the way from Fairbanks, to minimize the effects of a strong headwind.

DC-4 flight deck
Equipped with a GPS-controlled Terrain Avoidance Warning System, the crew was able to remain at lower altitudes, focusing their attention more to obsticles further in the distance.

 

This proud bird had logged more than 28,000 hours of flight time. Climbing over the right-hand seat, I stuck my head out the open side-window, nearly twenty feet above the gravel ramp, and glanced out at the right wing with its two huge Pratt & Whitney radial engines, then scanned the long fuselage to just see the tip of the towering tail. I eased into the seat, gripped the control wheel, and scanned the instrument panel, and imagined this very ship hauling the same fuel (well, gasoline), food, and supplies during the Berlin Airlift in 1948.

 

 

cabotono says:
WOW! Speechless?
Posted on: Aug 23, 2007
Andy99 says:
Really liked your description and pics of the DC-4! I remember seeing one that had a stand attached under the tail to keep it from tipping backwards when loaded.
Posted on: Aug 09, 2007
rotorhead85 says:
I'm still looking for the box with the Reece's Peanut Butter Cups...
Posted on: Aug 09, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The DC-4 on the ramp at Kiana
The DC-4 on the ramp at Kiana
Off-loading a 740 pound freezer.
Off-loading a 740 pound freezer.
Four five hundred gallon bladders …
Four five hundred gallon bladders…
DC-4 flight deck
DC-4 flight deck
View from the flight deck
View from the flight deck
The DC-4
The DC-4
The Douglas DC-4
The Douglas DC-4
Groceries on their final leg to th…
Groceries on their final leg to t…
The DC-4 heads back to Fairbanks.
The DC-4 heads back to Fairbanks.
Kiana
photo by: rotorhead85