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Alaska guys: Tell me about flying the 737-200.

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May 2, 2005
I finally got the phone call, and i have an interview with Alaska next week. I have no idea what would be available if i get hired, but i'd appreciate as much info on flying the -200 in ANC as possible. Thanks!
i don't work there, but...

By ‘Mud Hen’ to Red Dog

by Mac af Uhr
Ride the jump-seat of a Boeing 737 into the gravel strip that serves as the gateway to the Red Dog Mine in northwestern Alaska.

can't give you any info as per quality of life and flying the plane.

but, i remember reading this article on the 'gravel kit' -200's that Alaska uses for north Alaska mine runs.

i've always been curious about it and found it to be a great read.

looks like you can get it from backorder.

here's the link

BigRing said:
I finally got the phone call, and i have an interview with Alaska next week. I have no idea what would be available if i get hired, but i'd appreciate as much info on flying the -200 in ANC as possible. Thanks!

Well, The Anc 737-200 base probably was the last little bit of Alaska Spirit that our mgmnt is so fond of quoting..People came to work and used their brains and their ability and a little ambition to get the job done in as timely and efficient a manner as possible....There was always talk about how it was cowboys and arctic eagles riding rough shod over the far's and company procedures but that was just a myth propogated by a few loud mouths as all myths are. The flying really is no different than flying anywhere, except there is less traffic in your way when the weather goes south. Flying a low weather approach to a slippery cross wind runway is the same whether it is Bethel or Boston....So again it really was the people that made the difference. As you well know, after May 1st that last little bit of "Spirit" hopped on the last train out of town and those tracks dont run here anymore....In short the -200 is an airplane that is flown like an airplane by people that put their pants on one leg at a time....
As a base to fly out of you will not find a better one in the system. If you live in Anc or the surrounding areas, everywhere is close to the airport, there is no employee bus schedule to live your life by, you do not go through security when you go to work and everyone pretty much knows everyone else....
Now that Alaska is just a mediocre airline(secrets out) quality of life is huge and it does not get better than Anc....
Good luck on your interview and maybe we will see ya around
The MudHen

The Airways mag is a great read. It is a little on the expensive side, but it's worth it in my opinion. Mac has done several articles for them. He did his first article on flight #64 known as the "milk run" (ANC-JNU-PSG-WRG-KTN-SEA). Then he did an article on the Red Dog mine. Since then the red dog strip has been paved. The magazine will do a follow up article on the last gravel flight in Jan 06 I believe. Mac was a long time 200 Captian, but he switched over to the dark side (ANC 4/7/8/9) to get a better schedule.

Cliff notes: As a new hire, on reserve for years to come, there is no better quality of life than the ANC 200 base. That is assuming that you live here! Do not try to commute it.

As I have said several time on this board, I don't know a thing about LAX, except that it is in southern California and has millions of people. All I can tell you about SEA is that reserve life is tough - especially for those who choose to live somewhere further than a two hour drive from the airport. In SEA almost all (95% of them?) reserve days are two hour call outs - short leash - that has a huge impact on quality of life.

ANC 4/7/8/9 base is growing, reserve life is better, but about half of the reserve call outs are going to be from SEA- stealing you away from your base to put out some fire down south. Most of your flying will be long haul, full on vampire flying. The schedules will get better with time, as the base is new and it is going to grow a lot over the next few years.

ANC 200 is old school, good ol' boys, fun flying. Our ANC crew schedulers take good care of us. We bust our butts for them, they help us out from time to time when we need something. You will get NOTHING in the way of help from SEA crew scheds. ANC 200 reserve lines are about a 60/40 mix of R (4 hour) and A (2 hour) days. Our fine ladies in crew scheds will not convert you (downgrade we call it) to A unless they really need you. That happpens about once a month up here, compaired to almost every day in SEA.

On 200 reserve you will be flying turns most of the time. Sometimes just two legs, sometimes 5 or 6 legs. Short legs, challenging flying, old school stuff. Runways are short and slick in the winter, and it gets a little cold up here from time to time, but the midnight sun of summers are beyond compair. In a nut shell, if living in the ANC area is for you, then come on up and enjoy the best job there is (in my always humble opinion). If you don't want to live here, then bid one of the other airplanes / bases and save yourself from the hassles of commuting.

The 200 training is a little more difficult as well. If you give 100% in training and fly the best you can - no problems. If you slack off, grumble, complain, make some excuses from time to time, then you won't be cut any slack. We still fly arcs, NDB, VOR and LDA approaches, we circle to land at night, we do a fair amount of holding, and no VNAV - you got to use the grey matter between your ears. The 4/7/8/9 flying is all techno, flight directors on, ILS or RNP approaches, with "auto" doing most of the work. In other words, it is just a different world. We are a dying old school beast, they are technology and automation personified.

The company says that our good old horse will be put to pasture by June of 2007. Then we will all be flying the 4/7/8/9 and who knows what the schedules will look like. I imagine that there will still be some turn lines in ANC, but they will go senior. I for one am going to try to hang on till the end (unless I can upgrade) just for the QOL. I've got 24 more years to live half my life in a hotel, why would I want to give up being home almost every night before I have to? To give you an idea, the last time I was away from home over night, was a SEA layover on 9/11/05.

The company plan of June 2007 retirement for all 200's is optomistic in my opinion. I would not be suprised if we are still flying 2 or 3 of them as freighters in 2010. Ever flown a B737-200 in blue jeans,T-shirt and cowboy boots? When we fly freight, that is the uniform of the day! Does life get any better?

Well I think you get the idea. Send me a PM is you need any more info. Good luck at your interview.
Where's this?

AK737FO said:
The magazine will do a follow up article on the last gravel flight in Jan 06 I believe.

Interesting post. Thanks.

Where is this last gravel airport?

I thought since they paved Red Dog and you guys pulled out of St. Marys that you didn't serve any more gravel strips.
So if you fly the 200 do you have to go to differences training to fly the 4/7/8/9? Or vice versa? Is ANC senior for the 737? Any good video clips of the 200 landing or departing a dirt (if not slightly muddy) strip?
I had friends fly the -200. They loved the mission and most of the people they met. Home in ANC almost every night. Nice way to go.

That was the kind of post that this board is supposed to be about. Thanks for a good read and a nice insight to an interesting operation. Best of luck to you and the rest of the folks there. I'd trade ATL for ANC in about 30 seconds, if I could get my wife to move anywhere north of the of the 30 degree North Latitude line.
No more Mud for the Hen

The Red Dog mine is a charter we fly twice a week. The airport is in the mountains a bit northeast of Kotzebue with a NDB approach. The airport was paved a few months ago, I don't remember the exact date. Alaska Airlines no longer serves any gravel runways - they are all gone. The magazine article coming out soon will be a footnote, maybe a picture or two, of the last gravel flight - sort of a follow up to Mac's previous red dog article.

To answer the other question about training. Right now the 200 pilots are not allowed to fly the other 737's. We are only MudHen pilots. The other guys can fly the 4/7/8/9 on any given leg. When 200 guys go to the new airplane, they have been getting the full meal deal - weeks and weeks of training. I have heard that our instructors are pleased with the 200 guys in training - they can fly a good jet, once they learn how to type. Maybe it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks like typing? I don't know if that is what you would call "differences" training.

When I was in 200 training, I saw an old video (Boeing?) of a 200 doing landings on gravel - actually it was more like dry dust and looked like Africa. Wow! It was impressive. That is the only gravel operations video I've ever seen. The company does have a cool video on DVD of Dutch operations. They filmed some Dutch touch and goes, even dubbed in music, it is pretty cool.

Good luck to all of you getting the phone calls in the months / years to come!

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