Photo by Roy Jared, April of 1969
Enroute to Ice Island, T3

Barrow, Alaska

A Barrow Story

It was March 10th, 1966, when this Firebird arrived in the Arctic darkness of Barrow, Alaska, to hunt Nanook, the mighty polar bear. The Fairchild F-27 had droned on for hours after leaving Fairbanks, and the sight of civilization, as simple and remote as it might be, was welcome. As the door opened, we were met by dozens of natives who were ready to unload their special order cargo. Snowmobiles and long wooden sleds were everywhere. Cases and cases of liquor were instantly loaded onto the various sleds and vanished into the darkness. Abandoned, I looked around trying to locate transportation to the native hotel, and in doing so, ran into three USAF dentists (Claude Rick, Carl Higgins, and an unknown dentist), who were also in Barrow to hunt. A couple of small Eskimo boys were nearby and offered to take us to the hotel on their sled, which was being pulled by a Skidoo snowmobile. We piled our bags onto the sled and took a seat right behind them, and the "kids" took off at full speed. As we began to approach the village, I saw them grinning and talking excitedly to one another. One could read their minds. They were going to speed into the next corner, turn sharply, and try to throw us off the sled…since we were at the end of a rope around ten feet long. As we turned the corner at high speed, the momentum of the sled with three or four hunters and baggage was just too much for the Skidoo. It flipped over and threw the two little Eskimos head over heels into the air. Undaunted, they rolled the snowmobile upright and blasted off again. Once again, they started grinning at each other and gunned the "white man's dog team" into the next corner at an even higher speed. The snowmobile went over again, and the boys went flying. As we began our journey to the hotel for the last time, the speed was reduced to normal. Two small Eskimos had learned an important lesson in physics.

Nolan Bailey
Firebird Pilot: 1963-67