Airline gives big thanks to Alaska Peninsula community

Posted: Tuesday, April 03, 2001

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Delta Air Lines is delivering a big ''thank you'' to an Alaska community that gave a gracious welcome to a Delta flight diverted there a couple of weeks ago.

Residents of Cold Bay, population 69, took 220 passengers and crew members into their homes, cooked breakfast and provided blankets, after Delta Flight 79, an MD-11 aircraft, made an unscheduled stop at the Alaska Peninsula village en route to Tokyo from Los Angeles.

''Cold Bay provided a very warm welcome to our passengers and crew,'' said Mac Armstrong, the Atlanta-based airline's executive vice president-operations. ''The residents went out of their way to be helpful and treat everyone on Flight 79 like old friends. We would like to extend a little Delta hospitality in return.''

The town sent both its school buses, joined by volunteers with minivans, to the local airfield and shuttled passengers to the Cold Bay School gym, to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service housing and the two local inns. A number of passengers traveling with children were welcomed into nearby homes, while several Cold Bay residents stayed up all night cooking biscuits, bacon, salmon and rice for the travelers.

In gratitude, Delta will provide $7,000 to enable Cold Bay to get a matching grant from the state of Alaska. The money will buy a new two-way radio system for local emergency medical technicians. Delta also sent a gift of 50 cases of fresh fruit and vegetables not readily available in the treeless, wind-swept community. The company also will send Delta T-shirts for the kids at Cold Bay School.

Jim Zerbe, Delta's station manger at Anchorage, will present a check to the mayor, as well as a plaque officially thanking the people of Cold Bay, in a ceremony this week.

Cold Bay has a 10,000-foot runway dating back to World War II days, when the location was used as a military staging point. Today, the runway is an alternate landing site for the space shuttle.

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