Flying Dead Bodies Across the Land of the Midnight Sun
When there’s a murder or mysterious death in remote areas of Alaska, corpses are flown in to the state morgue. This is what it’s like to run that airborne operation.
Illustrations by Avalon Nuovo
On an otherwise unremarkable Alaskan day, four teenage boys decided to kill themselves in the village of Nulato. They got a shotgun and a bottle, built a campfire down the road and told their families all the things they needed to tell so no one missed them or worried or went looking. They passed the bottle, told their stories, cried their tears and made their promises. Then one of them pointed the gun at himself, pulled the trigger and died.
The other three boys panicked. There was no more shooting that night in Nulato. The suicide pact was exposed, phone calls were made and the Alaska State Troopers flew in from their post 35 miles away. The next morning, in Fairbanks, we were readying a pilot to fly out for the dead boy when the school district counselor called us for a ride. He lived in Nulato and needed to get back home. He knew the boys as if they were his own and he was devastated.