Fairbanks is undergoing an international invasion—of a good sort. Almost 2,000 athletes ages 13-23, from eight Arctic nation teams (nine, if you include the Alaska kids) have arrived to participate in the Arctic Winter Games 2014. Think Olympics (on a smaller scale), to compete in games with others from across the circumpolar north.
What caught my attention was how the international participants got to Fairbanks. Not exactly general aviation—but by a series of charter flights from all over the Arctic. The aircraft are one or another model of the Boeing 737, with a couple Airbus 320 or 330’s thrown in for good measure. After studying the planned schedules, I decided to try and figure out where these planes were coming from, so turned to Google Earth, and below is my best approximation of where the flights came from, and roughly how they got to Fairbanks International Airport.
For the past three days, these aircraft have converged on Fairbanks to bring the participants together for a week-long set of games, ranging from snowshoe based biathlon’s, skiing, and dog mushing to indoor events like curling, soccer and traditional native games. Much more than an athletic event, Arctic Winter Games has brought people across the arctic together since 1970, when the first games were held in Yellowknife. A total of 500 people participated in that event, which included athletes, coaches and supporters.
Fairbanks will see another flurry of air traffic on March 21, when the return migration occurs. Airplane watchers will have an opportunity to see aircraft with paint jobs seldom seen in these parts (Air Greenland, Flair Air, Air Yamal, etc.) as they arrive to take the AWG participants home. Hopefully taking with them new insights and inspiration after a week of rubbing shoulders with people from other circumpolar countries!