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Update: The Alaska State Jet was sold to an Alaskan businessman on August 23, 2007.
The Alaska administration decided that the Beech King Air 200 twin engined turboprop was adequate for the transportation needs of state officials. It is somewhat slower than the Westwind II state jet, but it can land on shorter runways.

   
The original purpose of this website, Alaskafalcon.com, was to discuss the Alaska state jet.
The first article of this website (www.alaskafalcon.com) was on October 10, 2006 and was about the Alaska state jet which was purchased by the state government in 2005. For many years the state government has possessed a number of different types of aircraft. The newly acquired Westwind II jet was the fastest aircraft in the state's fleet. Since the falcon is the fastest type of bird, I decided to name this website Alaskafalcon.com.
   The state jet issue is no longer a current topic. I now cover a few other topics on this website. But the name Alaskafalcon.com will be retained for this website.

There are pros and cons with any piece of equipment, whether it be trucks, aircraft, road graders, construction equipment, boats etc.
Acquisition costs, operation and maintenance costs, versatility and other factors must be considered.

Below I list a few factors on the pro side regarding the use of a small business type jet.



Alaska State Jet - Westwind II
Alaska State Jet     Westwind II

The State of Alaska purchased the Westwind II jet in 2005. It started operating in Alaska in November of 2005.

The Alaska State jet was controlled and operated by the Department of Public Safety.
The Department of Public Safety (State Troopers) used the state jet to transport prisoners down to Arizona. There are limitations when trying to use regular commercial airlines for prisoner transport. Inmates with a history of assault and violence pose an extra problem when considering regular airline transport.
   The state jet was used for prisoner transport for a significant part of the time. The former governor of Alaska (Governor Frank Murkowski at the time) was also able to use it if it was not being used for prisoner transport.
   After the state owned jet was sold on Aug 23, 2007, a different aircraft service was utilized to transport the prisoners.
   The Alaska Department of Public Safety had a total of 42 aircraft in August 2006. They had different types of aircraft for different types of jobs. They possessed one Westwind II jet, one Beech King Air 200, several helicopters, float planes, Piper Supercubs, Cessna Caravans and others. Today in 2008, they still have about the same amount of airplanes, but they no longer possess the jet.
   The jet could fly faster and higher than the propeller driven Beech King Air.
The state jet was a better tool for transporting prisoners from Alaska to Arizona than the King Air. The King Air requires 10 hours of flying time and 2 intermediate refueling stops to get to Arizona. The Westwind II turbofan jet uses only 6 hours of flying time and only one refueling stop. This saves time for state personnel and allows more jobs to be accomplished in a given amount of time.
   The Westwind II has extra safety factors. It can climb out of icing conditions faster than the King Air, and can fly farther to an alternate airport in the event that the primary destination is closed in by bad weather.
   Alaska is a huge state with very long distances between destinations. It makes good sense to use a small efficient utility jet to get to far flung destinations in a timely manner. A 45,000 foot service ceiling means that the jet has an advantage in getting over bad weather compared to propeller airplanes. This provides an extra margin of safety and versatility.
   The state jet was a practical tool for helping a governor get to meetings in different Alaska towns in the same day. As an example, on July 10, 2006, the governor (former governor Frank Murkowski) used the state jet to travel from Fairbanks to Barrow to attend the Inuit Circumpolar Conference that included representatives from Canada, Russia and Greenland. In the afternoon, the governor traveled to Kotzebue for a discussion about opening up a mine and other economic issues. In the evening he returned to Fairbanks. This was a total distance of 1285 miles.

   The state jet was not meant to operate on gravel runways. Other aircraft in the State of Alaska's inventory are used for gravel strips. The Westwind II jet requires a 4000 foot runway with a hard surface (asphalt). In the State of Alaska there are 53 separate airfields throughout the state that have a hard surface (asphalt) runway that is at least 4000 feet long. 7 of these airfields are military. 15 of these airfields are listed as "unattended" and visual inspection is recommended prior to using.
   The Fairbanks International Airport has a runway that is 11,800 feet long. Adak is 7790 feet. Yakutat is 7745 feet long.

   There are other state governments that have purchased and use small jets. New Mexico for instance, paid $5.5 million for a Cessna Citation Bravo jet.
   Wyoming purchased 2 Cessna Citation Encore jets for about $12 million.
Alaska's 1984 Westwind II was purchased in 2005 for $2.7 million.

   Alaska state officials had talked about the need for a state jet before Frank Murkowski was elected governor in 2002. Governor Murkowski also determined that a jet would improve the state's air transportation capability. He went to the legislature and requested an appropriation to purchase a jet for the state.
   A large number of citizens protested against the proposal to acquire a small jet for the state. Some felt it was an unnecessary luxury. The State Legislature declined the governor's request to appropriate the funds. Governor Murkowski decided to go around the legislature and used a line of credit at Key Bank that did not require legislative approval. It was perfectly legal to purchase the jet like this, but many citizens were not happy about it..
   
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Written by Randy Griffin