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Alaska Highway

Book Review: "Wings Over The Alaska Highway"
A photographic history of aviation on the Alaska Highway

By Ron Kilber

July 7, 2001

"Wings Over The Alaska Highway" would be good enough if it were simply a history of the Alaska Highway. But the addition of the aviation element behind the WWII Alaska-Canada Military Highway (Alcan) makes this monumental work really fly. It's a fabulous read with more than 200 beautiful photographs, chronicling the early history of the Alcan Highway to its popularity today as an air route for VFR pilots flying to and from Alaska.

The book is loaded with interesting facts and a wonderfully illustrated map. I was surprised to learn that more than 7,000 aircraft were ferried over the route during WWII, contributing substantially to the war effort against Germany. Even the bombing of Pearl Harbor figured prominently into the planning of the Alcan Highway.

Especially nostalgic is a full chapter on the Trench, the notorious, 430-mile short-cut for pilots flying between Prince George, British Columbia and Watson Lake, Yukon. The photography is superb. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that humorist Will Rogers flew the route in 1935. I barely had the nerve to fly the Trench in 1982 when fuel was available at Ingenika. Many pilots today still avoid the Trench, preferring the safety and frequency of airports along the Alcan Highway.

There's a full chapter on flying the highway, as there is for each of the major airfields and communities along the way: Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Whitehorse, Northway and Fairbanks. Secondary airstrips are detailed -- with splendid photography too.

For anyone who has flown the inland route to Alaska -- or plans to one day -- "Wings Over The Alaska Highway" makes a wonderful addition for any pilot's library. The historical value and military significance of this book can bring tears to the eyes of WWII veterans and military enthusiasts.

Authors Bruce McAllister and Peter Corley-Smith are seasoned pilots, whose aviation expertise contribute significantly to the text and photography.

With 206 pages -- virtually a picture on each -- the book is huge and worth the $34.95 price. It measures eight-and-a-half by eleven inches, using a landscape format. For more information about "Wings Over The Alaska Highway", the Web address is:


Copyright (C) 2001 Ron Kilber Non-commercial reproduction permitted in its entirety with this copyright notice intact.

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