“I Follow Rivers” Print




The period between 1933 and 1955 saw the development of the instrument systems enabling pilots to fly “blind”; that is, without visual contact with the surrounding terrain or weather. The term Instrument Flight Rules (“IFR”, for short) came to describe those new systems, and the ability or need to use them. But those systems did not, and still don’t, exist in many remote areas.

During those same years, the Alaska Territorial Road Commission built and operated the sternwheeler “Nenana” as a practical form of transport in the immense roadless drainages of the Tanana and Yukon rivers.

Following these same waterways, able to land on small village airstrips and river sand bars, was all in a days’ work for Stinson Aircraft SR-JR, “The Spirit of Point Barrow”. This airplane and crew were well equipped for the “I Follow Rivers” version of IFR flying.

Today, we are lucky to to still walk the decks of the “Nenana”,  as well as to get up to the SR-JR, at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks. Better yet, the big roadless natural landscapes, and riverbank lifeways are alive, and ours to find, by following the rivers.

Sandy Jamieson
September 2014

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