Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jet makes emergency landing in Ketchikan

KETCHIKAN - An investigation was under way Monday after an Alaska Airlines jet made an emergency landing at Ketchikan International Airport.

Alaska Airlines Flight 64 was heading from Anchorage to Seattle on Sunday evening when a mechanical emergency was declared after the plane departed from Petersburg, one of several intermediate stops.

The jet bypassed a stop at Wrangell and headed for Ketchikan, also a scheduled stop.

According to initial reports, there was a problem with the plane's flaps.

Emergency crews in Ketchikan stood by and watched as the plane safely touched down on the runway at about 6:20 p.m.

There were no reported injuries.

First four F-16sdelivered to Eielson

FAIRBANKS - The first four of a dozen Aggressor Squadron F-16s arrived at Eielson Air Force Base Sunday after a long, delayed journey from Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.

"If everything goes well, all the aircraft will be here Wednesday," said Col. Mark Moore, commander of the 354th Operations Group.

One of the first four pilots to arrive in the newly painted fighter jets was Lt. Col. Patrick Welch, commander of the new 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson.

The new paint jobs for the squadron's 18 aircraft are designed to simulate the "enemy" in Red Flag training exercises held several times a year at Eielson with air forces from around the world.

"We'll be playing the bad guys to help train the rest of the Air Force," Welch said.

The operations building of the squadron's headquarters reflect their new adversarial role with old Soviet posters and flags hanging in the halls and lounge area.

When the Eielson squadron isn't taking part in the Red Flag exercises, it performs two-week "road shows" at other Air Force installations.

The F-16 swap is part of Eielson's transition into a training center.

Moore said the Pacific Alaska Range Complex training area, roughly the size of Kansas, provides the largest training air and ground space in the nation.

The Red Flag exercises include as many as 90 aircraft and about 1,600 participants.

"Some operate out of Elmendorf (Air Force Base), but the vast majority are here," Moore said.

The next Red Flag exercise is scheduled to take place in April and will host participants from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

2004 Iditarod champ wins Kuskokwim 300

ANCHORAGE - Champion musher Mitch Seavey of Seward has won the Kuskokwim 300.

Seavey, the 2004 winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, crossed the finish line in Bethel at 8:09 p.m. Sunday. He takes home the $20,000 first prize.

Seavey covered the 308-mile course in 49 hours, 37 minutes and 44 seconds.

That's almost six hours slower than last year's winning time by four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser of Big Lake who came in sixth this year, right after his 18-year-old son, Rohn Buser.

Taking second was Ramey Smyth of Houston, who pulled into Bethel 56 minutes after Seavey.

Next to cross the finish line were Kotzebue mushers Ed Iten in third place and John Baker in fourth.

Couple wins Alaska leg of 'Amazing Race'

LOS ANGELES - Rachel Rosales and TK Erwin finished first in The Last Frontier to win CBS' "The Amazing Race" and the reality TV show's $1 million prize.

During the around-the-world race's final leg in Anchorage, the couple from Huntington Beach, Calif., searched through tanks filled with live crabs, scaled the side of a glacier, soared through the air in a helicopter and solved a complicated puzzle before crossing the finish line at Girdwood Airport.

"Nice guys can definitely finish first," the dreadlocked Erwin said after their win.

Erwin, 22, and Rosales, 23, outraced father-and-daughter team Ronald and Christina Hsu and grandfather-and-grandson team Donald Jerousek and Nicolas Fulks during the race's final leg.

"I knew it was going to be crucial to stay calm," Rosales said, referring to the complex puzzle composed of objects from previous challenges that contestants had to figure out before racing to the finish line.

In the twelfth edition of "The Amazing Race," racers trekked from the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles through Ireland, the Netherlands, Burkina Faso, Lithuania, Croatia, Italy, India, Japan and Taiwan to their final destination in Alaska.

ID law for Canada entry begins Jan. 31

SEATTLE - Under a new U.S. law beginning Jan. 31, all travelers, including children, who don't have passports must show proof of their citizenship at land and sea border crossings - a birth certificate or naturalization certificate - to re-enter the United States from Canada. Passports already are required for air travel.

Additionally, travelers 19 and older also must show government-issued photo ID such as a driver's license. Such photo ID is not required for children 18 and younger; they can travel by land and sea with just a birth certificate for now.

"If you don't have these documents (for land/sea travel), it's going to slow down your border clearance," said Mike Milne, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Seattle.

"We won't take verbal declarations of citizenship any more. You'll have to go into a secondary-clearance area and be asked more questions. Ultimately, a U.S. citizen will get back into the United States, but it will certainly slow down the process," Milne said.

For entering the U.S. from those countries, a passport already is required for air travel and will be required for land/sea border crossings likely beginning in June 2009; the birth-certificate/photo-ID requirement that begins Jan. 31 is just an interim step. Passports were due to be required for all cross-border travel starting in June, including by land and sea, but that has been delayed a year after congressional and industry protests. That was spurred by the months-long delays last year in issuing passports, which snarled many Americans' travel plans, after the air-travel passport requirement kicked in.

Backcountry skier killed in avalanche

BIG SKY, Mont. - An avalanche killed a backcountry skier in the mountains west of Big Sky, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center said.

The avalanche on Sunday swept the man into trees and he was dead from trauma when searchers found him within 10 minutes of the slide, the center said in a statement.

Searchers included the man's ski partner and other people in the southwestern Montana area known as Beehive Basin.

The avalanche came a week after one that killed two backcountry skiers near the Whitefish Mountain Resort in northwestern Montana. Two witnesses said the avalanche Jan. 13 buried at least two more skiers. Authorities cited bad weather, unstable snow and lack of a missing-person report in suspending a search three days later.

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