An-24 incident at Gambell, Alaska

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Antonov An-24LR

The An-24 incident at Gambell, Alaska occurred February 27, 1974, when a Soviet Antonov An-24LR "Toros" (CCCP-47195) ice reconnaissance aircraft landed at Gambell Airport in Gambell, Alaska.[1] The plane, carrying three crew members and twelve scientists, was en route to Anadyr. Due to strong winds, the pilot decided to divert to Provideniya, which was fogged in. The plane was low on fuel, so the crew chose to divert to Gambell, located 62 miles southeast of Provideniya. The plane made a straight-in approach, and one of the engines quit shortly before landing due to fuel starvation.

Word quickly spread around the community that a Soviet plane had landed, and this prompted villagers, consisting mostly of Yupik Native Americans, to come out to the airfield. There was a friendly meeting between Russians and locals, and souvenirs were exchanged. Some locals banded together to bring space heaters and food for the Russian visitors.

The incident took place during the height of the Cold War era. An Alaska State Trooper and members of the Alaska National Guard[clarification needed] from Nome were dispatched to provide security for the plane. The Soviet Embassy in Washington was aware of the diversion and contacted the U.S. State Department and the Department of Defense and requested fuel for the stranded plane. A U.S. Air Force C-130 plane with fuel bladders took on a load of JP-1 fuel at Anchorage and flew directly to Gambell, where it refueled the plane.

The An-24 was cleared for departure and took off at 7:30 pm. It made a pass over the airfield, dipping its wings in a gesture of thanks, and returned to Soviet airspace.


  1. ^ CAF Digest: February 26 - March 4, Commemorative Air Force.

Coordinates: 63°47′02″N 171°44′49″W / 63.784°N 171.747°W / 63.784; -171.747