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26 February, 2002

I will jump ahead in the chronology of events to assure those of you out there who have been awaiting news about this expedition that we did indeed arrive in Diomede on Monday, February 25th. Having said that, it's worth noting that just as we have been waiting for several days to fly TO the island of Diomede to begin working on the community history project, there were many people on Diomede waiting for the plane to arrive so that they could leave and fly to Nome. Many elders were leaving to parcticipate in the Youth and Elder's Council, and many of the teenagers and children flew from Diomede to Nome on the day we arrived to parcticipate and perform Eskimo dancing.

This is a picture of me standing in front of the prop plane that flies to Diomede. These bush planes and the pilots who fly them play an integral role in life up here in the North. Alaska is a huge state with villages and towns that can be very remote. Also, weather conditions often make travel by boat or road impossible throughout much of the year. This plane is not just bringing people, it is transporting mail and supplies.

Flying at an altitude of 6500 feet, we fly NW at approximately 140 mph over the frozen water. Each winter a layer of ice forms, transforming the rough waters and making it difficult for me to differentiate frozen land from frozen water. In fact, the Arctic is primarily ocean that freezes each year, altering the landscape. Here is a view of sea ice and ice floes as we fly past Wales to Diomede.

I was lucky enough to sit up front with the pilot. Here is a view of some of the instruments in the cockpit, especially the GPS (global positioning satellite).

This is the view as we approach the island of Little Diomede from the Southeast. Little Diomede is part of the United States, it is the island on the right. Big Diomede, the island on the left, is actually part of Russia. The two Diomedes are approximately 2.5 miles apart, with the International Date Line and the border between the US and Russia running in between. What appears to be ice and snow between the two Diomedes is actually the frozen Bering Strait.

Coming in for a landing! One of the advantages to arriving toward the end of Arctic winter is the fact that the water here in the Bering Strait between the two Diomedes has frozen and we can actually land on the ice. This airport/landing strip is a section of ice that has been plowed. Otherwise, traveling here by plane would not be possible.

A view to the village of Ingaliq, Little Diomede through the pilot's window as we land.

Stepping off the plane. Transportation from the airstrip to the village is by snowmobile.

An excited Carol and Dena arrive. This is the Arctic.

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