The Ripple of Alaska Airlines Flight 261

Alaska Airlines Flight 261The impact on calm water displaces circular ripples that touch so many, such as the far-reaching effect of an aviation disaster. The fatal accident of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 affected many communities up and down the west coast. Our community is home to Western Washington University, an excellent state college with an enrollment of 12,000 students. It is not uncommon for life-long friendships to be established at the school. So it was comprehensible to find twelve former students as passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 261. In the three months following the crash, I am suddenly stopped in my everyday activities with yet another reminder and another sinking wave of sadness and loss.

The minister who spoke at our memorial service attended high school and college with a husband and wife who were passengers.

The Coast Guard pilot who commemorated the 88 white carnations to the water off our shore following the memorial service was a neighbor of a young passenger. His daughter attended elementary and high school with her friend.

Two managers at Starbucks Coffee Shops here attended college with two passengers.

The Commissioner of our local airport worked in earlier years with many of the traveling airline employees.

The young mother who works at the salon where I have my hair cut spent an hour talking of her husband’s difficult experience as the owner and captain of a Squid boat.

That boat was one that volunteered to do search and rescue/salvage and retrieved the ring of one of the passengers on his deck.

Last week while waiting for my husband at the Ford Tractor store, I picked up a local monthly horse magazine. A featured article was about the loss of a couple, both ministers who perished on Alaska Airlines Flight #261, returning from Mexico where they were working with a poor village to enhance the lives of the people. This couple was well known to the horse community in our state and it was obvious they were deeply saddened by this loss.

After opening my favorite magazine subscription this month I was stopped again by the letter from the editor — a beautiful, heart-felt dedication to a writer who was a wine critic and had written for this magazine and the whole industry for over 25 years. He and his wife both were on Alaska Airlines Flight 261.

Barbara Skudlarick, Resident, State of Washington

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Posted in Memorial Story, Our Newsletter


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