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(moved)Missing air cargo out of Chicago to Anchorage


Mission, TX
This story may bring a tear or two. I know my eyes were damp when it was all over.

Although our airline had nothing to do with this cargo shipment I agreed to do what I could just because I am what I am.

At some point in my aviation life in Alaska, my name became known for some reason over most of the state and maybe by now some might understand why. It was really my life 24/7/365 job for almost 27 years. No wonder I ended up single in my married life but married to aviation instead?

A guy from Kenai flew up to Anchorage to talk to me and explain the situation. It seems my name was known around the state as a good detective when it came to aviation, good or bad. At times, even the law enforcement agencies asked me for help.

At some point, the gentleman in Chicago had packed up all the personal possessions of his late wife in a wood box and took it to an airline to fly it to Anchorage. It never showed up and no one in the airline could find it. Needless to say, the guy wanted the items, not a cash settlement. Hey guys and gals, would you want the same thing? I would have.

All the information he had for me was a cargo airway bill number and the airline name that he delivered it to in Chicago.

By that point in my aviation carrier and position, I pretty well had a special contact in all airlines that I could call on for help from a VP down and in a few cases, the CEO and President. I asked my contact with this airline for as much information as he could give me on the shipment. I got the flight number out of Chicago with no problem. The flight was scheduled to stop in Denver and on to SFO before change of planes to Anchorage.

Denver was the last position on record. Now comes the old thinking cap part over a Scotch and water after hours. How about a few Chivis and ice? I knew the Denver area had many days of canceled flights at that time due to heavy snow and passenger and mail loads were really backed up. Thousands and thousands of passengers sleeping in the terminal. I figured all aircargo would have been bumped for items with more priority so took off on that tangent.

I contacted the airline cargo manager at Denver and he recalled the time but not the item of course. He told me he had leased a few big rig trucks to move the cargo between Denver and the west coast (LAX and SFO). I was lucky in that he only used one trucking company. There were no manifests on those trailers since they were on lease so there was no record by number of what was on board, only gross weight. I was able to get trailer numbers for all the loads so went with that to the cargo manager of the airline in SFO, the logical destination of the shipment. He went back to his records and found the trailer numbers that went to SFO. Than, I was able to go to the trucking company in SFO with those trailer numbers and dates and asked them to check their routings and see if they showed any one of them that was sent to Anchorage. Sure enough, there was one. I than went to their warehouse in Anchorage and asked the manager there if he had any information. After going through his paperwork, he said he had no unaccounted for shipments. Again, I explained the wood box would not have any of his shipping numbers on it or paperwork but only that from the airline involved. Finally he reluctantly sent an agent to the warehouse with this new information and sure enough, they found the box sitting there. Not even a sorry comment. Oh how I wish I could name that company so no one would ever use it again but will not.
I immediately contacted the guy in Kenai and told him I had found his box. He made his own arrangements to move it from Anchorage to Kenai.

Seems the box was never offloaded in SFO (no paper work) before the trailer was sent to the next shipper to load for Alaska.

Many days later, the gentleman flew back up to Anchorage and walked into my office to thank me for my help. He offered payment of course but I simply told him I felt very pleased that he had came to me for help and that was enough for me. I am sure you can picture how good both of us felt that day. Even the owner of my airline thanked me after he found out about the problem. How about that for a job well done?

Some days it was really special to work for an airline and it made up for all the bad days. Kind of like making that perfect landing in a Super Cub.

This is not the only situation I ran into in my aviation life in Alaska like this but just one that was very special.