One of the things I love doing on my free time is opening up Google Maps and searching around the world for places that I’ve never heard of (I swear I do other things, too). One place in particular caught my eye recently – Adak Island.
Adak Island is a remote island located in the Aleutian Islands chain, which is situated in between the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean.
Adak is Alaska’s southernmost town and is home to a whopping ~400 people. Given its central location between Japan and the United States, Adak actually served a very important purpose during the Aleutian Islands Campaign in the early 1940s.
On June 3, 1942 the Japanese raided Dutch Harbor, located in Unalaska (think Deadliest Catch!). As part of the Allied response, U.S. forces set up shop on Adak Island, located some 140 miles from Kiska Island, a Japanese stronghold used to launch attacks on the U.S. mainland. From their position on Adak, U.S. and Allied commanders were able to capture Kiska and other key Aleutian islands like Attu.
Adak Naval Air Station was a U.S. military facility up until 1997 when it was closed and incorporated. U.S. authorities then added roughly 200 Caribou to the island to aid in famine relief. You guessed it – is now a popular Caribou hunting destination.
How to Get There
The only way to get to Adak Island by air is via Alaska Airlines service from Anchorage (ANC). This route is operated by the rare Boeing 737 Combi. The flight from Anchorage is operated twice weekly – Sunday and Thursday, weather permitting.
A round-trip flight between Anchorage and Adak will run you 15,000 miles and ~$12 for taxes:
I find the special notice in the above photo VERY interesting:
This flight uses a Boeing 737-400 Combi aircraft. When boarding this type of aircraft, customers will use two sets of stairs, board from the rear of the aircraft, and be exposed to the weather.
What’s a 737 Combi?
As you might be able to tell from the above photo, the first 12 or so rows on the 737 Combi are “whited” out; this is because this area of the aircraft is used for transporting cargo. If you’re quicker than me (chances are you are!) you may have figured out that Combi is a shortened version of combination, which means this aircraft operates as a passenger liner and a freighter.
Alaska Airlines has five 737 Combi aircraft and each one is capable of carrying 72 passengers in an all-coach class configuration.
Per the Alaska Airlines website:
An ideal aircraft for intra-Alaska service. The first row on the aircraft is row 17, and the aircraft can seat 72 passengers. Freight is located at the front of the aircraft and passengers board and disembark from the rear.
Check out this video on YouTube featuring the Anchorage-Adak flight with some pretty stunning views:
I’m a sucker for off-the-beaten-path destinations so Adak would certainly be a cool place to visit. Honestly, though, I’m sort of afraid to fly and landing at an airport as remote as Adak that experiences routine wind gusts of 30+ knots would be more anxiety than I’d want to take. I’m not an outdoorsy guy, but if you are then the views and nature would make the trip worth it. Safe travels!
Featured photo courtesy of Paxson Woelber.