Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2001

Senate removes gun mandate for pilots

JUNEAU -- If the state Senate has its way, pilots on small planes flying in Alaska will no longer be required to carry firearms as part of their emergency gear.

The state House last month approved legislation allowing pilots to leave their guns home if they planned flights into Canada. That country tightened gun laws this year and now requires Americans carrying guns into Canada to register them and pay a fee.

The Senate removed the gun requirement entirely.

"This leaves the decision to carry a firearm at the pilot's discretion," said Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome. "The pilot after all is the pilot in command, the ultimate authority, and the best person to judge the appropriateness of carrying a firearm."

House Bill 127 makes other changes in pilots' emergency equipment packages. They would be required to carry one week's rations for each person on board rather than two; an assortment of fishing gear rather than a small gill net; "fire starter" rather than matches; and a wool blanket or something comparable for each person on board in winter.

Pilots would continue to be required to pack an ax or a hatchet, a first-aid kit, a knife, a mosquito headnet for each person on board, signaling devices, and in winter, snowshoes and a sleeping bag.

The measure now returns to the House for consideration of Senate changes to the bill.

Cause of citywide power outage unknown

JUNEAU -- Power was knocked out citywide for about an hour Saturday evening, with the cause of the outage under investigation as of late Saturday night.

The outage occurred about 7 p.m., said David Stone, director of consumer affairs for Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. He said power to many areas was restored within 50 minutes, but it took more than an hour before the Mendenhall Valley was back to normal.

"What was most unusual was it totally blacked out our Thane substation, which has total control of everything, so it was a much longer time restoring power," he said. Workers can restore power by remote control if the substation is working, but were forced to go there because of the blackout.

AEL&P initially restored power using diesel generators, since re-establishing a connection with the Snettisham Hydroelectric Project took longer than expected, Stone said.

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