Gordon Pugh's Flight to Alaska
The Mite Site received this story from Gordon Pugh, who owned the now missing N6GP (N337M) in the 1980's:
My previous Mite was an M-18L, Ser. No. 19. I changed the registration to N17P when the fin had an AD satisfied and the plane was repainted. That Mite was the first Mooney to fly the Northwest Staging Route to Alaska in 1956. I (we) stayed with the Shropshires at the CAA station at Fort Yukon, just inside the Arctic Circle. It was a challenge to fit all the survival gear including a rifle in that plane. The mandatory two way radio was a battery operated Motorola Airboy Sr. with crystals that plugged in for three VHF channels and a 200-400 kHz receiver.
When I departed Fort Yukon, I taxied under a huge Air Force cargo plane that was parked on the ramp. The only contact with the rest of the world then was by HF radio at the Northern Commercial Company store or through the CAA station also on HF.
The Alaska Highway had a single telephone line for the entire length in Canada -- over 1000 miles. Some party line! It was standard practice to land on the highway then (I did and parked in front of the roadhouse at Pink Mountain, BC, on the first night northbound). There is a photo I took of that somewhere and there were a number of others taken by passers-by. I received free food and lodging there for fixing their toaster which had been broken for months.
At the time I was working at the top of Mt Washington, NH, and had a six week summer vacation. On the return trip I confirmed the service ceiling was over 21,000 feet by taking it up to 21,150 near Moline, Illinois. Ahh, the good old days!
3 November, 2002