Vandals smashed 43 runway lights sometime in the evening hours of Wednesday, Sept. 19, leaving the runway dark. Several hours later, at approximate midnight on Thursday, Sept. 20, a medivac flight en route from Bethel had to turn around at the Kasigluk Airport after not being able to see the landing strip.
Maintenance and Operations workers from the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) estimate the repairs at around $2,000. Repairs can be made as soon as DOT&PF workers can arrive at the airport, which will require travel during daylight hours because of the damaged infrastructure. Weather continues to prevent DOT&PF personnel from flying out of Bethel.
Vandalism at rural Alaska airports poses a serious risk. DOT&PF has launched a Runway Safety Project to educate youth on the importance of airport infrastructure and how to be safe around runways and airplanes.
Kasigluk is a community of over 500 people, located on the Johnson River, approximately 27 miles from Bethel.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 239 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway and 731 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”