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Photos: Bush planes

Bizarre weather settled over much of Southcentral Alaska in mid-January 2013 as a tropical system known as the "Pineapple Express" blew in from the Pacific. Snows melted but sunsets were absolutely brilliant.
Eric Adams photo
Merrill Field sunrise at -3 degrees. Nov 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Merrill Field sunrise at -3 degrees. Nov 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The sun sets through the fog at Merrill Field. Nov. 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Airplane taking off at Merrill Field with full moon. Nov. 27, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Snow plowing at Merrill Field. Nov. 14, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Winter settles in as the sun sets early on Anchorage in early November. Merrill Field, centrally located just east of downtown Anchorage, offers breathtaking views of the city and Chugach Mountains.
Eric Adams photo
First big snow of the year: Oct. 30 brings new fluff to Merrill Field.
Alaska Dispatch
A pretty, but chilly, day for flying in Southcentral Alaska.
Alaska Dispatch
Tire tracks in new snow at Merrill Field in Anchorage. First real snow of 2012 on Oct. 30.
Katie Medred
Merrill Field is a small airplane, public-use and commercial service airport in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. The field was established in 1930 and remains a unique feature to the downtown Anchorage cityscape.
Alaska Dispatch Staff
Bright, clear and ready to fly! Another spectacular October day in Anchorage.
Alaska Dispatch Staff
Can you guess what kind of plane this is?
Alaska Dispatch
October has been good to the Anchorage bowl.
Alaska Dispatch
A beautiful sunset at Merrill Field airport on Oct. 18 with a waxing crescent moon just above the pink glow of the horizon.
Alaska Dispatch Staff
Alaska Dispatch

It's the site of the first aviation beacon ever erected in the Territory of Alaska, later becoming the first airport for Alaska's largest city. Hundreds of aircraft and several aviation businesses, along with the University of Alaska Anchorage's Aviation Technology Division, now call old Merrill Field a scenic home away from home between the Chugach Mountains east of Anchorage and Cook Inlet to the west.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport may be where you'll arrive or depart the 49th state, but for many, Merrill Field is where you head to truly enter Alaska. Merrill Field is operated by the Municipality of Anchorage and is one of 23 municipal airports scattered across the Last Frontier. It's also the largest General Aviation airport in a state reknowned for its many aviators and aviaiton industry workers.

Merrill Field is situated just a mile or so east of downtown on 436 acres between the 5th Avenue corridor and Anchorage's medical district and Airport Heights neighborhood. The field was established in 1930 and remains a unique feature to the Anchorage cityscape.

More: Bush Pilot on Alaska Dispatch

Merrill Field was the first real airport in the area before the construction of Anchorage International and is named after Russell "Russ" Hyde Merrill, an early pioneer in Alaska aviation. The field was dedicated Sept. 25, 1932 -- more than 50 years before statehood. Part of the field was built over a section of landfill, requiring what seems like perennial maintenance and compaction -- with massive, earth-pounding beasts that rattle nearby structures -- in order to keep runway asphalt in place and the ground from shifting.

The airfield has three runways that service GA aircraft, public and amateur aviators, pilots in training and several air taxi services that cater to Bush Alaska. It also is home to the University of Alaska Anchorage's Aviation Technology Division, two locally-owned flight schools and a runway that serves the Alaska Regional Hospital for MEDVAC operations.