Allegedly, this Alaska ANG C-123 from Kulis AB, Alaska, landed on Lake Nuyakuk in early 1967, to off load private cargo (lumber, building materials, etc.). The ice could not support the weight of the aircraft and the landing gear broke through. As the ice began to thaw in the Spring, huge rubber bladders were placed under the wings and tail to float the aircraft. It was then towed to shore for repairs. The 17th TAS provided much of the airlift needed to complete the salvage operation. (Photo circa March, 1967, is courtesy of Ray Hull, Firebird Pilot)

This photograph of the C-123 on floats was taken circa June, 1967, at Lake Nuyakuk near King Salmon. We flew a Firebird C-130D-6 to the site and did a PLADS drop of materials needed to continue recovery of the aircraft. Note items already on the shore. (Photo circa 1967, and comments by Nolan Bailey, Firebird Pilot)

The Continuing Saga

I believe that the ANG C-123 spent quite a bit of time at Nuyakuk Lake, southwest of Anchorage. As I recall it flew in there for an on-ice landing and either lost an engine that could not be replaced or had some other maintenance problem that could not be fixed before the ice melted and the C-123 sank into the lake. The lake re-froze before the aircraft could be recovered, so it "wintered over," stuck in the ice up to its wing roots!

The next spring it was floated and dragged to shore where repairs were made, and it waited until the lake froze once again before it was flown back to Kulis.

I also half-remember that we had a squadron maintenance officer who spent some time on the recovery of this plane. (As related by John Root, Firebird Pilot, 1996)

Editor's Note: Firebird pilot Ray Reaves was assigned as project officer.

Minox photo by Bruce V. Bradley, Firebird Navigator, circa 1967

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