(The compleat experience)
I made it back to Alaska, but it took being awake for 24 hours and traveling for about 21 of them. Taking the day off today to recuperate. More on that adventure in a bit.
While I didn't get any range time in while over in the Tarheel State, it did give me some valuable experience in traveling with firearms on the airlines. I'll give you the complete account right here.
First, it started out with research. I've already related some about that in earlier posts just before my flight.
Now, it's amazing just how ignorant your typical American is on these matters...even gun owners. When I said I was taking them to NC, it raised eyebrows from everyone I talked to--family, friends, even those who own more guns than I. Even one or two who carry (and these tend to be, but not always, more informed about what you can and cannot do with guns). They couldn't believe that, with all the terrorism mess going on, that you can take guns with you on a plane.
You can, there are just certain protocols you need to follow.
For me, I started following those protocols by taking my pistol case and doing a little custom work to make it fit for transporting my H&K and Desert Eagle.
The case I currently have is a large aluminum one with a combination lock. It can contain the pistols and accessories (holsters, spare magazines, extra barrel, scope, etc), but not securely. I decided to keep the spare mags and holsters in my suitcase, along with a box of .44 magnum and .45 ACP in their original factory packaging.
But the pistols would be tucked in some foam insulation, cut away to allow them to be snugly secured in the case:
While cutting away the foam, I made sure the mold would fit the safety locks I was going to include for both pistols, as you can see in the picture here.
Satisfied that the pistols weren't going anywhere, I closed and locked the case.
Following some advice on the web, I also made a few copies of the TSA's guidelines for transporting firearms, as well as those for the two airlines I would be flying with: Alaska Airlines and Northwest. This would be for the check-in agents' edification, if it were needed.
It didn't turn out to be necessary. The agents I came across for Alaska Air and Northwest seemed to know what to do when it came to firearms.
When I checked in, I stated that I had two unloaded firearms to declare. They handed me their airlines' version of the unloaded firearms certificate which I had to sign, date, and store with the guns (the below is Northwest's version--you can see Alaska's version to the right of the case in the above photo).
Basically, it says that you have taken measures to secure your firearms and firearm-related items (such as ammunition) according to Federal guidelines.
Then, the check-in agent had me go over to the TSA station to hand over the case. What you will actually have to do may vary with the airline and the airport--at Fairbanks, all I had to do was hand over the locked case to the TSA agent on duty. At Greensboro, I had to keep the case unlocked and hand it over to the TSA agent (they would lock the case and clear the combination when they were done.
Then, I boarded the plane and went where I needed to go. Once I arrived, all my goods--all of them, from the guns themselves to the ammunition and accessories I had in my suitcase--made it along with me.
Even on the last leg of my flight. You see, I came into Anchorage at about 2.30p yesterday, and my flight to Fairbanks was supposed to leave at around 3.11p. It was supposed to arrive at 8.30p.
It doesn't take 5 hours to get to Fairbanks from Anchorage. I know, I've done it enough. I figured there was some screwup in how the tickets were printed.
As it turned out, I would be heading further north, to the Deadhorse terminal in Prudhoe Bay, and then to Barrow, before coming to Fairbanks.
I figured...what the hell. The flight's paid for, and I'll get to see a part of my home state I usually don't get to see. So, I enjoyed the extra detour. Always wanted to go to Barrow, if only to say that I've been to America's northernmost city.
While there, we picked up a State Trooper escorting two natives in handcuffs. He got to carry his gun on the plane, lucky guy.
Now, the aluminum case has suffered some dents. The guns are both fine, but I'll need to invest in something by Pelican the next time I decide to take them with me.
And that, readers, was my adventure involving firearms and flying.