Alcan Adventures


Photo by Nolan Bailey, April 1964


Alaskan Five Star Cuisine

Dewey Palmer's "spiffy red Chevy" parked in front of a roadside cafe while enroute to Alaska in April of 1964.



All the Firebirds were excited about the transfer to Alaska in early 1964. Everyone had attended the briefings, had decided how they would travel to Alaska, and were preparing for the adventure. The first crew to be transferred would be that of Capt. Richard L.W. Henry, who was a member of Stan/Eval. On the crew were First Lt. Nolan Bailey, copilot, Captain Lee Sorensen, navigator, Sgt. Dewey Palmer, flight engineer, and Sgt. Andrew Jones, loadmaster. The first to leave for Alaska were Nolan Bailey and Dewey Palmer who decided to drive up the dreaded Alcan--a gravel Alcan which required extra tires, extra engine parts, and covering of the gas tank with heavy rubber material if one were to make the trip successfully. The copilot and flight engineer made plans to defy the mighty Alcan together.

The Firebirds were in for a "culture" shock. During 1964, Abilene, Texas, was having a gas war. Prices for premium gasoline were less than thirty cents per gallon. The regular price for deluxe hamburgers was twenty-five cents, and Cokes were either a nickel or dime each. The briefings informed the travelers that prices would be higher in Canada and Alaska than those in the "lower" forty-eight, and everyone was prepared for such eventuality--or so they thought.

Dewey Palmer became enlightened about prices at a rustic roadside cafe just inside Alaska. Thinking of Abilene prices, he ordered four hamburgers and four Cokes to go. The waitress delivered the food and a bill for $6.00. Dewey's jaw dropped, and he asked the price again. The waitress replied, "The ticket is $6.00. The hamburgers are $1.00 apiece, and the Cokes are fifty cents." Dewey retorted with shock on his face, "Why...why this would cost around $1.20 in Texas." The copilot chuckled and was glad that he only had a wife to feed. How little did Dewey know what the Firebirds were soon to learn in "The Far North."

Nolan Bailey
Firebird Pilot: 1963-67


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