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Back to Eek School

Back to Eek School

Traveling to Eek School is an adventure.

My return to Eek started early in the morning of May 14th. Robert, my youngest son, drove me to the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Since the Alaska Airlines flight took off at 8:00am, we both got up way too early. The flight to Anchorage, on a regular 737, took about three hours.

A view of Eek, Alaska

The next stop was Bethel, Alaska, and the flight there is where the adventure begins. Bethel is about four hundred miles beyond the road system, so everything has to come in by ship or plane. Most planes to Bethel are combi aircraft. The cabin is partitioned to allow use as both a cargo and passenger plane. Most combi aircraft typically feature an oversized cargo door. I walked out onto the tarmac with other passengers to board the combi plane through the backdoor. In the middle of the cabin is the wall separating the cargo and passenger sections. There is no first-class section to Bethel. The flight aboard the 737-combi took about 50 minutes.

Clouds obscured my view and I worried that the flight might not be able to land. Once before, I had flown out to Bethel only to fly over the city and return to Anchorage without landing. Another time I had waited in Bethel for the plane to arrive. I heard the plane fly over and then away without landing. If the plane land in Bethel, you don’t leave.

This day was overcast, but we landed without trouble. Walking across the tarmac to the small Bethel terminal, a cold, wet, wind hit my face. I was certainly back in Alaska.

Each plane gets smaller as you travel toward Eek, and for the third, and last, leg of the journey, I would ride a Cessna 207 prop plane operated by Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures. As we taxied out to the runway, I asked if anyone would be meeting us when we arrived. The pilot didn’t know. Since I didn’t want to walk a mile in the cold carrying my luggage, and since there was food onboard for the graduation, I asked if he would radio back to his office and have them advise the school that we were inbound. Shortly after takeoff he did. This final flight took about 25 minutes.

On final approach to Eek I spotted Brett, the school principal, towing a trailer with an ATV in route to the dirt landing strip outside of town. Brett looked much as I remembered him, the rugged Alaskan, at home in the bush on an ATV. After arrival and handshakes we all unloaded the plane and I hopped on for a muddy ride back to Eek School.