Hard Times Better with Family


Principal Glenn Hard and the broken down plane

Last July, Principal Glenn Hard, his wife Chris, their parents Lou and Jerry Bissette, and their daughter Shelby, who is a freshman this year,  went to Alaska for a summer vacation.

While the clouds were blowing over Alaska, they were flying over Mount McKinley National Park in an otter airplane for some sightseeing.

Deadly Ruth Glacier intimidates many experienced travelers
Deadly Ruth Glacier intimidates many experienced travelers

“A thick fog settled over the park, reducing visibility to zero,” Shelby Hard said, “Our tiny plane only navigated by sight and so they were forced to land on Ruth Glacier near Denali National Park.”

With towering mountains and crevices as deep as the Grand Canyon, Ruth Glacier can be a cold, unforgiving place. Escape is pretty much impossible because the edges of the glacier are mile long cliffs.

The fog seemed to stick to the area where they were. It didn’t seem like the fog was going to lift so they were forced to stay the night on the glacier.

The potentially horrendous situation was not that alarming because the plane was equipped with sleeping bags and supplies for the just this kind of situation, “Though having the entire Hard family crammed in the airplane was hardly comfortable,” Hard said.

When they woke up the next morning, the fog was still there. The local Alaskans tried to land a helicopter to rescue the stranded Hards, but the weather was too bad and they were forced to turn back.  They waited the remainder of the day, and still, the fog did not lift.

While they were trapped on their glacier, they mainly stayed by their plane and ate what food they had.

Another helicopter airdropped a two-man rescue team who used backcountry skis to bring extra supplies to the stranded Hards.

Once they got there, since there was no way out, they were forced to stay at the plane until the weather was better.

“Three days we were stuck on that glacier,” Hard said, “living off of the company of other people and powdered granola bars.”

Then, at last, the fog finally lifted.

The nearby Alaskans finally got a bigger plane to fly to Ruth Glacier and pick up the Hards.

A few days later, a plane crashed at an Alaskan airport and killed ten people because of bad weather.

But thanks to their patience and calmness, they walked away unscathed with an experience they will never forget.

By Matt Rivera