Toddler sneaks solo trip on commuter plane

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Trevor Amukon is just 3 years old, but he already has the travel bug.

The boy climbed into a Grant Aviation commuter flight Saturday on the gravel runway near his home in Scammon Bay and landed an hour later in Bethel. Only when the other passengers departed did the pilot realize Trevor was traveling solo.

''He's tried to get on a plane before,'' said Trevor's father, Reggie Kaganak. ''This time he made it.''

Kaganak said he was making a boat cabin for a friend in the village on the Bering Sea coast when he told his young son to walk to his mother's house about 150 yards away and put on a sweater.

''He kept wandering on. He just kept going farther and farther away,'' eventually ending up at the village runway, which is less than a mile from his mother's house.

In the meantime, a twin-engine Piper Navajo commuter plane was in town, picking up two adults for the last flight of the day to Bethel. As the 3-year-old tried to board, one passenger helped him, thinking he belonged to the other traveler, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Joette Storm.

The pilot thought so, too, Storm said. Not until the plane landed 150 miles away did the stowaway blow his cover, she said.

As the second adult left the plane, Storm said, ''The pilot said, 'Hey, you forgot your child.' At which point (the passenger) said, 'That's not my child.' ''

Grant employees called Scammon Bay, located Trevor's parents and immediately flew the boy back, according to Storm. She did not think the incident would require further FAA investigation.

Grant Aviation president Bruce McGlasson said the pilot's assumption that the boy belonged to one of the two passengers ''would be correct in 99.9 percent of the cases. It turned out not to be the case this time.''

Pearlie Amukon, Trevor's mother, said she watched the afternoon flight leave, ''but I didn't think my boy was on it.'' She thought her son was with a cousin, while the cousin thought he had gone to her sister's. ''I was in shock when a couple of kids came to tell me,'' she said.

Her son was back in her arms less than three hours after he left Scammon Bay. When he got off his second flight of the afternoon, ''he was just quiet,'' Amukon said. ''He kinda knew he did something bad.''

He also may have lost the travel bug, she added. ''He said he doesn't want to do it again.''



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