CW2 Frazier and Doctor Gangloff share some quality bonding time together - discussing the project and reviewing the details that will make the endeavor a success. Doctor Gangloff pointed out that if it wasn't for the U.S Army providing the unique lifting capabilities of the Boeing Chinook, this trip would not have been possible:



CW2 Gene Frazier and Dr. Gangloff discuss the mission.



             CW2 Frazier prepares for the coming days activities by waking up with the best cup of coffee north of Wainwright - Folgers Singles:



Tuesday Morning coffee with CW2 Frasier in the Arctic North.



             Later in the day, Gene caught himself a dinner fit for a king - a fine looking specimen of a ferocious Alaskan trout:



Gene Frasier catches dinner.



             One of the objectives of the mission was to perform a site reconnaissance of Umiat (N 69° 22.27' W 152° 08.14'), a former military airfield 233 km (126.5 nm / 145.6 sm), bearing 043° magnetic, from the field site. The airfield had recently been approved as a contract fuel supplier for the Department of Defense and the Sugar Bears were to be their first customer. The Recon was important to gain an understanding the layout and capabilities of the location for future operations in the Arctic north. The gravel runway is 1,645 meters (5,400 feet) in length, elevation 81 meters (266 feet) above mean sea level, and is oriented 050 and 230 degrees magnetic. To the south of the runway are the support facilities - fuel, food, and lodging. Due to the remote location of the field site, acquiring fuel at Umiat was critical to our making it home. Although equipped with the new Robinson internal fuel tanks, with a capacity of 3,028 liters (800 gallons) that boosted our total fuel load to 7,071 liters (1,868 gallons), there wasn't enough fuel to make it from Bettles to the field site and back to Bettles.


             Something we didn't know, which took us by surprise, was that Umiat is heavily contaminated with DDT and petroleum waste products. Apparently, as told to us by the locals now running the establishment, when the Navy operated the airfield, sprinklers were set up around the area that sprayed DDT in order to control the mosquitoes. Petroleum waste was disposed of by dumping it on the ground or burying it in barrels. Now, contractors are being paid to dig up the contaminated soil. The soil is then incinerated at very high temperatures to force the contaminants to break down into less harmful substances. When we entered any building we were asked to take off our shoes so as to not bring the problem indoors. We were also advised to wash them thoroughly after we got back to camp. Our observations noted millions of mosquitoes that were quite troublesome - and zero birds. Not a good place to make plans for future operations other than the purchase of fuel...


             Since we were the first military customers in many years, it took quite some time for the contractor to configure the hoses in order to refuel the Chinooks. The helicopters had to be moved up to the fuel point, one at a time and shut down. This added considerably to the stay at Umiat. However, the folks in the mess hall provided us with an excellent meal and a hot shower while we waited.


             Because of the long wait time at Umiat, it was a good thing that we flew the night before to 3,048 meters (10,000 feet) to close our flight plan out with Flight Service. Had we gone to Umiat to use the phone, we would have ended up spending the night - separated from the rest of the party. Our crew rest policy would have prevented us from making it back to the field site.



Umiat, looking northeast (050 degrees magnetic). A flight over to Umiat was required on Tuesday to refuel the aircraft for the trip home later in the week.



             Our arrival back at camp, several hours later, gave us the opportunity to take some excellent photographs of the camp site. Looking northwest, in the photo below, one can see the shadow of 89-00174 as it approaches the parking area west of the camp:



View of the Camp site from the air.



             The two aerial photographs (above and below) gives one a pretty good idea of how the site had changed in the many years since the fossil was discovered. The stream bed had shifted westward considerably. That, and the remoteness of the site that kept treasure seekers at bay, served to preserve the find considerably. The team did have to locate a suitable path to Icky through the very wet marshland that had developed as there was no direct route. Transporting some of the heavier items, like the 18.9 liter (5 gallon) buckets full of plaster, was quite a chore. The saving grace was the perfect 21° C (70° F) sunny weather for the first 3 1/2 days, coupled with the near complete lack of mosquitoes.



View of the excavation site from the air showing the swampy marshland that had to be negotiated in order to reach Icky.



             During the first few days, Dr. Gangloff gathered the team together and gave morning briefings on what we expected to accomplish that day. Everywhere we went and everything we did was recorded by our KUAC Public Radio and Television (PBS) crew, Chuck E. Newman (video) and Libby Casey (audio) (seen below with microphone in hand). The intent was to outline the days activities and record them for future broadcast on KUAC so that all could learn and benefit from our adventure:



Dr. Gangloff briefs the team on the daily scheduled activities.



             Also pictured above, with one hand on his hip (center), is the second West Point Cadet on loan to us. Cadet Andrew T. Erickson was actually visiting with the UH-60 Blackhawk unit in 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment for a few weeks. The A Company commander was kind enough to allow Cadet Erickson to go along on this mission for a few days to get a taste of Army Aviation at it's finest. Obtaining a frontal face shot proved elusive...



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          The CH-47 - 40 years old and still circling the world.


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