14 October 2014

Alaska Aviation Legends: Life Above the Arctic Circle

Excerpted from the Alaska Dispatch News:

Walt Audi came to Alaska in 1962 “to see what was possible,” as he says, and discovered all he wanted. By 1964, he was living above the 70th parallel north, and has continued to serve the people of northern Alaska ever since.
Walt Audi on a bright summer day on the North Slope on June 25, 1997, more than 30 years after coming to Kaktovik. Courtesy the Audi family

“If I was going to write a book about my life, I’d entitle it ‘Fifty Years Above 70 North,’” Audi says with a chuckle.

... In February of 1964, after several other trips to Alaska, Audi came back north with a pickup pulling a mobile home trailer that was supposed to become the first Alaska home of Audi and his wife, Merilyn. On the way, the trailer went into the ditch on an icy stretch and Audi had to leave it in Canada.
... In June of 1964, he was offered a job doing maintenance on the Distance Early Warning line out of Barter Island. It was a 30-day temporary job, doing repairs and work on the fiberglass of the big domes. The DEW line consisted of 63 radar stations extending over 6,200 miles across the Arctic, from Western Alaska to Baffin Island in northeastern Canada.
Audi quickly realized that the only way to travel in the Far North was by aircraft.

On the trips across the North, Audi enjoyed the stories of the pilots. The reality of being isolated in the Arctic was that only pilots could come and go as they pleased. Everyone else couldn’t do anything or go anywhere.  That reality made him hungry to fly.

Follow the link to read the whole story. He's a survivor of an era which likely won't come again.

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