Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fr. Nelson's Alaskan Flying Adventure

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor Holy Rosary, Saint Theresa Mission, Saint Paul Mission

Some highlights of Fr. Nelson's visit were two missed approaches into Ekuk, Alaska, moving a wood stove into Saint Peter Fisherman in Clarks Point, blessing a fishing camp, and getting locked, not out, but INSIDE the airplane.

Fr. Nelson stands with three villagers Julian (left), Shay (right), and Mariano in front of Saint Peter the Fisherman in Clarks Point, June 17, 2011.

Fr. Nelson Marilag, who is from the Philippines and is on loan to the Archdiocese of Anchorage for one more year, checked out Holy Rosary Mission from June 15 to June 27, 2011. Fr. Nelson will return to the Philippines for a vacation for one month before starting his new assignment serving Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Saint Theresa Mission, and Saint Paul Mission (all the villages in Bristol Bay and the Surrounding area except Holy Rosary and Bristol Bay).

Two days after arriving, I flew Fr. Nelson in our Cherokee Warrior over to Clarks Point, twelve miles Southeast of Dillingham. After landing we had to move a small wood stove into Saint Peter the Fisherman Church so we could have some heat. It was still a bit chilly for Mass outside (about 40 degrees F.)

This picture reveals that the stove was just a bit heavier than we thought. Mariano Floresta donated the stove and hooked it up for us.

The next day we flew to Saint Theresa, a mission of Holy Rosary. Saint Theresa is located between King Salmon and Naknek. We had Mass at noon on Saturday, then returned the same day back to Dillingham (64 air miles).

Our next big flying adventure was June 24, 2011 when we flew to Ekuk then to Clarks Point. Ekuk is a small fishing village just up the beach about a mile from Clarks Point.

Here is a picture Ekuk, a small village that closes in the winter but thrives during the salmon run.

The runway in Ekuk is very NARROW. It took me three attemps to actually land our Warrior II. During the first approach I was too high (truth be known, I probably missed because I was fooling around with the video camera and lost my concentration and focus), the second too fast, and the third, I nailed it.

I have a video of my first missed approach into this small Alaskan Village and here it is!

You can also see the video by CLICKING HERE.

During the third attempt at the narrow runway I asked Fr. Nelson if he was "OK." He said he was. Later I found out he was oblivious to my missed approaches. He thought I was just showing him the village from the air.

Just after landing in Ekuk, Fr. Nelson stands in front of our Cherokee (N81809) for a picture.

Katie Anderson shows us a couple of nice sized King Salmon she caught in the net the day before.

Here Fr. Nelson kneels inside an authentic Yupik steam house in the village of Ekuk.

Fr. Nelson stands near fish that are being "glazed." After the salmon gets a hard coat on the outside (glazing) it will be moved inside an enclosed smoker to be smoked.

After blessing the Anderson/Ingram fishing camp and having a great cup of coffee with June, Katie, Josh, and Kara, we went back to the airplane and took off from the very soft, narrow, and short runway.

A couple minutes after taking off from Ekuk, we touched down on the gravel strip at Clarks Point. It looked like a freeway compared to Ekuk's.

For Fr. Nelson and I, the great Alaskan adventure did not end in Clarks Point. After finishing in Clarks Point, we climbed in the airplane shut the door, and something broke. We were stuck inside and could not get out of the plane! We flew back to Dillingham, parked at Tucker Aviation, and when Tommy Tucker came out of his office I shouted at him through my three inch-by-two inch side window, "Tommy, please let us out, we cannot open our door!!" Dave, Tommy's mechanic, came out, took the door off, and fixed the cotter pin that had sheered off. All's well that ends well.

Fly Safe out there!

1 comment:

twit said...

it's nice to see fr. Nelson..He's our parish priest here in Carmen, Philippines and a family friend..Please say Hello to father,thank you and God bless