Quake destroys Alaska airport


Main entry point for GA aircraft entering Alaska

August 11, 2002

Click for larger image
Click for larger image
Quake-damaged runway at Northway (Alaska) Airport

Emergency repair crews have begun work at Northway Airport (ORT) in Northway, Alaska, after damage from Sunday's magnitude-7.9 earthquake forced its closure. Northway is the principal port of entry for light aircraft entering Alaska from Canada and the lower 48 states.

"People flying to Alaska need to know this airport is closed and is liable to remain so for a few weeks," said AOPA Alaska Regional Representative Tom George. "For now, U.S. Customs has developed alternate procedures. Pilots should contact Customs at 907/774-2252 prior to entering Alaska for details." In addition, Customs agents monitor 122.8 for emergencies in the vicinity of the border.

Although Northway is some 100 miles from the epicenter of Sunday's quake, the temblor caused extensive damage to the airport's single 5,100-foot asphalt runway. The repair crews will plow up the paved runway and replace it for the winter with a 3,200-foot gravel surface. Alaska's aviation community is working with the state's Department of Transportation to find a better long-term solution that can be implemented next summer.

Northway also has a seasonal FSS and year-round weather observer. It is located about 30 nm west of the Alaska/Canada border, along the Alaska Highway.

According to U.S. Customs, about 700 aircraft enter Alaska through Northway each year. That's about half of all flights that enter the state annually. Northway is located approximately 240 nm northeast of Anchorage.

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