The Great Northern Pumpkin Drop makes a splash

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 10:29 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Saturday afternoon’s clear blue skies were filled with bush planes and flying pumpkins, as a grassroots get-together produced the Interior Alaska Great Northern Pumpkin Drop.

Over a hundred people turned out at the Bradley Sky-Ranch air strip in North Pole for the fourth annual event. Food, fun, pumpkins and planes; it was a great time had by all.

A dozen bush plane pilots flew with pumpkins in hand, 200 hundred feet above the ground over a hundred-foot circled target marked out near the runway. As they got close to the target they released their pumpkins from the air, with hopes of hitting the target center. Each pilot had three chances to hit the center. Prizes were awarded to the first, second, and third place winners whose pumpkins landed closest to the center of the target.

“It’s in the tradition of great aviation bombing competitions,” event organizer Jess Panko explained. “You can pick any size pumpkin you want, it depends on your aircraft and your strategy, because big pumpkins will fly different from little pumpkins.”

“It’s nothing new in the world of aviation,” Alex Dupois agreed. “It’s always kinda been going on with dropping pumpkins from airplanes. We started doing this, that we know of, the first pumpkin drop in modern interior times, back in 2020. During Covid a bunch of us got bored with our airplanes, we headed out on the Tanana gravel bar. We did it 2020, 21, 22, and this is our fourth year doing it.”

The trophy pumpkin was dropped by Steve Stidham, at only 17 feet away from the center of the target. The runner-up was 19 feet away from the center.