Mount Edgecumbe is a dormant volcano on the southern end of Kruzof Island near Sitka, Alaska. The last eruption of Mount Edgecumbe happened around 2220 B. C. This volcano is approximately 13 miles west of Sitka. After such a long period of dormancy, the volcano was more than overdue for an eruption, be it fake or real.
Oliver “Porky” Bickar had the idea for years. The difference on April 1, 1974 was that this April Fool’s Day was a beautiful, clear day. He looked outside, and told his wife that today was the day. His wife only had one request: “Don’t make an ass out of yourself.”
Porky had made all of the proper arrangements including contacting the FAA and the local police department. He contacted helicopter pilots and explained what he wanted to do. Three were not a fan of the idea and turned him down. With the help of a friend named Harry Sulser, a friend and local bar owner, Porky found Earl Walker who loved the idea. While waiting for the helicopter to arrive, Porky prepared his supplies. These included two 150 foot long ropes holding 50 old tires a piece, oily rags, a gallon of sterno, a lot of diesel oil, and a dozen smoke bombs.
When Earl arrived in Sitka, he and Porky, along with Larry Nelson and Ken Stedman, loaded the fuel and rags. Earl and Porky took off from the ground and hovered as one rope was attached to the helicopter. The helicopter left for Mount Edgecombe and arrived in the crater a few minutes later. The helicopter landed, and Porky unhooked the tires and removed the fuel. Earl went back for the rest of the tires. Porky set up the tires in a circle and poured on the fuel. For anyone who flew over, he also spray painted APRIL FOOL into the snow near the pile of old tires. Soon, Earl came back with the rest of the tires. Then, they finished piling up the tires, and the whole mess was lit on fire.
To those in Sitka, it appeared as though the dormant volcano had become active again. While a few people knew about it, many people became concerned, rightfully so. Things became interesting when the Coast Guard, who hadn’t been notified about the prank, found out about it. They investigated it only to see APRIL FOOL painted near the fire. Overall, the prank was a massive success. Phone calls came pouring into the police station and the local radio station. By the time it was over, the event was worldwide news. The notoriety and creativity of the prank makes this the greatest April Fool’s Day prank, and Porky Bickar deserves to be remembered for ages because of it.
For a picture of the event, visit http://www.olypen.com/sitkacds/porky.htm.
“Mount Edgecumbe” Wikipedia.org
“Porky’s April Fool’s Day Adventure…” Olypen.com