Lauding Alaska, the last great airline

Posted: Tuesday, February 08, 2000

There is a heaviness upon my heart this evening as we approach one week of knowing that Alaska Airlines Flight 261 plummeted to the ocean.

I would just like it to be known that Alaska Airlines has and always will be my airline. It is a staple of my childhood, and I have come to know Alaska Airlines as my family over the years.

This hits close to home. Alaska is a vast state, but it is at times like this we realize what a small community Alaska is. Part of what holds that community together is Alaska Airlines and its never-ending pursuit to bring people together across this great state.

From the design on the tails of their aircraft to their ticket agents, there is always a friendly face. Their maintenance record until last week was virtually clean all of the way back to 1971 when an Alaska Airlines 727 was thrown into the side of a mountain, near Juneau. May it be noted that Juneau is rated one of the hardest airports in the U.S. to land at, due in part to its precarious positioning between mountains and the frequent wind shear that plagues the skies above Juneau.

May it also be noted that Alaska Airlines pioneered the so-called ``heads up'' technology that allows commercial jetliners to maneuver and land in almost zero visibility and other potentially hazardous weather conditions. I have experienced the application of this technology in flight, and I have every inclination to believe that the pilot and crew of that aircraft did everything in their power to reagin control of the aircraft.

I have spent the last few years making the journey up and down the West coast from Alaska to California, and never once have I felt that I was in danger. I trust my life in the hands of Alaska Airlines, and it is not hard for me to say that you should do the same.

I recognize the fact that, in light of such a tragedy, people are bound by nature to become skeptical of an airline in this situation. I want to say that I did, do, and always will stand by Alaska Airlines as one of the most outstanding airlines I have ever flown. I will continue to fly Alaska Airlines as long as I can, and I will continue to convey the message that Alaska Airlines is truly the last great airline. May God bless all who have suffered in the past week and may your thoughts be of positive nature, to look back upon your loved one's lives and celebrate the joy and memories that they have endured with you.

Tristan S. McAllister

Juneau (attending college in Pebble Beach, Calif.)

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