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Thread: Cape Yakataga

  1. #1

    Default Cape Yakataga

    Does anyone know the general condition of the cape yakataga strip. I understand its turf/dirt but it is nice and level/smooth or is it full of small pot holes and larger rocks. Becasue of the extreme distance between Yakutat and Cordova I am thinking of landing at cape yakataga to fill up with jerry cans to carry on to merel k smith to finish refueling with additional jerry cans or from the lodge, then carry on to gulkana via the copper river at which point im home free.

  2. #2
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    Yakataga airport is basically gravel and grass. It should be ok for your airplane. The trip up the Copper River from Cordova can be wild at times, especially when there is a big pressure differential between the interior and the Gulf of Alaska. The wind can be horrendous. The Copper River Canyon is fairly wide but surrounded by very high mountains. The wind can venturi through that canyon at high velocities when the wind is quite mild at either end of the Copper River canyon. I have crossed the mouth of the Copper River canyon at times in a beaver and was able to fly backwards toward the ocean by slowing down just a little or crossed along the same path holding an eighty (80) degree crab angle to track toward the Merle K Smith airport. So check the weather carefully before you make the leg up the Copper from Cordova to Gulkana.

    One other thing. If there is a strong southeast wind blowing up the coast, do not make a straight in approach to Cape Yagataga as there is rolling turbulence on short final which can flip you upside down if you're lined up for a straight-in to the runway. Instead make an approach to about halfway down the runway at about a 45 degree angle right base leg from over the ocean close to the shoreline.

  3. #3

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    Is May time a good time of year to make that trip. If I am super lucky I would love to just hop over the mountians straight into wasilla from merle k smith and avoid the copper river but the visibility has to be perfect. The leg down the copper to Gulkana is fairly long so I will have to make sure I have a tail wind. Unfortunatly there are no weather cams or weather reporting up the copper river not even at chitna. How do you get pre-flight data for copper river? Thank you for the advice on cape yakataga.

    How is the rest of the trip up the coast from sitka to cape yakataga?

  4. #4
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    If there is high pressure in the interior and lower pressure in the Gulf of Alaska the wind will be blowing down the river creating a head wind for anyone travelling up the Copper to Chitina from Cordova. And if higher pressure in the gulf and lower pressure in the interior, you would have a tail wind. As for Sitka to Cordova, It's coastal almost all the way with a lot of rocky shoreline coming out of Sitka with no reasonable places to land until you're past Yakataga where there are some marginal sandy beaches until you reach Cape Suckling.


    Also, I'm not sure why you would want to go up the Copper to get to Valdez. It's a lot shorter going along the north edge of Prince William Sound. There is very limited if any radio communication in the Copper River canyon, but good communication along the north edge of Prince William Sound. I don't know how fast your Pitts goes, But the trip to Valdez from Cordova along the north edge of Prince William Sound is travelled in about 30 minutes by single-engine air-taxi wheel airplanes almost every day except when the weather prevents it. The same holds true for wheel planes coming into Prince William Sound through Portage Pass and Whittier from Anchorage enroute to Valdez, Tatitlek, Chenega or Cordova. I have flown thousands of hours over Alaskan waters in single-engine wheel planes and have had to make forced landings in the water only twice and one of those times was my own fault, the other was a genuine engine failure. People ferry single-engine wheel planes 2500 miles over the open ocean from California to Hawaii several times a year. So the odds of some kind of catastrophic engine-failure on a 30 minute flight from Cordova to Valdez along the north edge of the sound are really slim. An engine failure over the mountains between Valdez and Wasilla could easily result in your never being seen again.


    The flight from Valdez to Wasilla over the mountains is very remote, requires some serious climbing and once again there are no places to land, just ice and snow with rocky cliffs and mountain sides. I would suggest checking various routes on Google Earth from Sitka to your final destination to get a feel for the actual topography. Even though you're on wheels my preference would be the shoreline route from Cordova to Whittier/Portage Pass, Anchorage Turnagain Arm then Wasilla. There are commercial fishing boats in Prince William Sound that time of year along that stretch of Prince William Sound and radio communications with other aircraft and with Juneau radio (Juneau Flight Service station) are probably better than some areas would be on a direct flight from Valdez over the high mountains to Wasilla. That route puts you over some of the most desolate and untravelled mountainous terrain in South Central Alaska.

  5. #5

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    They dont sell gas in valdez so I dont need to go to valdez, plus weather seems to be regularly crappy in valdez. I was hoping to do cordova and hop right over the mountians (pitts can do over 150 mph) so its a quick hop with your fingers crossed. Or go up the copper river if the ceilings are too low. I feel like if I wait for an absolute perfect weather day the plane will remain in sitka indefinitly so the weather just has to be good enough. Will have to look at the pressure systems for the copper because that could really hurt us if we have a drastic head wind.

    I will also have to look at the inside passage, depending on the condition of the run ways at hains junt, I will be cringing as soon as I hear rocks kicking up on the paint but if thats the only way that it is what it is.

    You say you went down in water with wheels, were you floating in the ocean with a life jacket until they picked you up with a helicopter? That had to be tramautic and a total loss of the plane wow.

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    Helicopter once http://www.flyalaska.com/dec82.html and a fishing boat the other time. http://www.flyalaska.com/bvrrvr.html I don't know why on earth you'd be going to Northway and then Yakataga....huge unnecessary dogleg over the the mountains. From Northway it's over land all the way.

  7. #7

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    Sorry, one route choice is the coast via cape yakataga. An alternate route would be up through white horse and then on to northway as a port of entry. More paved strips on the coast but better weather on the interiour. Plus the added hassle of eapis going through the inner passage.

    Isent that water ice cold?

  8. #8
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    The cape yakataga runway is mostly grass with a sandy gravel base. No rocks. It has a thick layer of moss in many places so if it has rained and not been mowed it will hold a lot of water resulting in lots of splashing on touch down. If it is really wet do not use your brakes. fly the plane to a stop. There is a turn around area on the east end near some old freezer boxes. That is the best spot to refuel.

    In May the runway will have not needed to be mowed yet but could be soft due to the snow melt. Call Alesk air in Yakutat or Alaska Wilderness Outfitters in Cordova and see what the locals think of the runway conditions.

  9. #9

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    I just got some video of Cape Yakataga a few days ago flying by from about 2,000'. When I figure out how to download it from my camera, I'll post it. As far as weather, I'd be more concerned about the Seal river than the Copper. Having flown from Cordova to the Tsiu river, just short of Cape Yakataga more than a dozen times, the Seal has been the problem with fog.

    Trans Northern out of Anchorage ha s a good bit of experience at the Cape and would be a good first hand source of info. Thats the alternate landing spot for Alaska Expeditions when they can't land on the Tsiu.

    Do they even has fuel there?

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    From the mouth of the Seal River to the west edge/end of the Ragged Mountains including Cape Suckling, Controller Bay, Kanak Island, mouth of the Bering River and Katella can all be a low weather area at times, other times not. He wouldn't be flying up the Seal River to the Bering Glacier, only crossing the mouth along the shoreline. The trip up the Copper to Chitina and beyond can be pretty hairy at times, other times a beautiful trip and piece of cake. The Bering Glacier and Vitus Lake with all of its cold air can produce fog along that part of the coast, but there are also plenty of decent weather days.

  11. #11

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    Is the cape yakataga weather cam a good indication of what is going on at the mouth of the copper or anywhere between cape yakataga and cordova?

    Found some nice 5.2 gal bladders for sale so will probably pick up 3 of them this friday, that is what I/ferry pilot will refuel with if a stop at cape yakataga is nessicary. If we have even a slight tail wind we could make it to cordova but if we catch a head wind and our ground track is not ideal then we may have to refuel in cape yakataga. From the conversations on here it sounds like the pressure gradient down the copper is going to be the bigger issue. How is the copper in the spring as far as wind?

    Once we make it to gulkana its a cake walk, thoes are my stomping grounds.

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    Unless it's a blue sky day along the whole gulf coast, the weather cam at Yakataga is no indication of Copper River weather, either at the mouth of the river or up river. Often it can be really lousy for the first 15 or 20 miles going up the Copper, then gets better as you travel towards Chitina. The weather during marginal weather days between Yakataga and Cordova can be extremely varied. The prevailing wind in less than perfect weather along the gulf coast favors a tail wind when travelling west along the coast. On blue sky days, you're likely to have a head wind.

    The pressure gradient between the interior and the gulf coast isn't always an issue. There are some days when there is almost no wind in the Copper River canyon. In any event it seems highly unlikely that you or your ferry pilot would come up the coast and then go up the Copper after Cordova to get to the greater Anchorage area. The better route would be along the north edge of Prince William Sound, to Whittier and through Portage Pass then down Turnagain Arm to Anchorage and then Wasilla. Otherwise an inland route all the way to Northway, then south to Wasilla would be better as far as generally more favorable weather.

    Storms (southeasters) can occur anytime of the year along the gulf coast, but are more prevalent in the fall and spring during the equinox seasons.

  13. #13

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    Yea if he cant get out in the next 7 days then we will do spring through canada. Can haines junct be used as a port of entry, it would be a pretty significant back track to go to white horse? If he can enter at haines junct then it should be not too bad. He cant take the inside passage in the next 7 days as i have not got my registration from the FAA yet.

    How big of a hassle is going through canada, do the customs people make your life hell or is it as uneventful as just waving you through. Also what are the repurcussions if customs does not show and we have to get a move on to either beat the weather or darkness, do we just check in at our airport of destination?

  14. #14

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    Customs is really just not that big of a deal. You make sure they know you are coming and when to expect you. You file eAPIS. You file a flight plan. You open the flight plan in flight, it gets handed off to the Canadians, and you land at your destination. You then wait for them to either come out to the plane or they will talk to you on a cell phone and determine whether to meet you. Entering the US is the same in reverse, though customs are a little more thorough. It just really isn't that big of a deal.
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  15. #15

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    Didn't think he was going up the Seal.. That cold water spills a good way into the gulf and has created a rather large area of localized fog up to about 3k msl. Going over it could be an option, but between the two points given, Yakutat and Cordova, the Seal has been the problem spot for us historically.

  16. #16

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    Should add, there are other runways available along the way for planning/emergency.. Just west of the Kahliak river is Alaska Wildernesses Tsiu camp. They've got a decent runway there. A few miles west of that, Alaska expeditions, and Dericks Lodge share a runway. On the west side of the seal is the Kiklukh river, and the lodge there has a runway too. If you look real close, there's one at the cabin on Mid Timber lake..

  17. #17

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    Am looking at routes to bypass gustavus for fuel. What is the condition of Tanis Mesa, it looks like that would be perfect for a refuel before heading to yakutat but if the condition is shabby your kinda past the point of no return as its only 50 miles out of yakutat. The problem with gustavus is you have to fly over mountians out of sitka and thats usually what grounds you. If tanis mesa is in decent shape that could be a life saver.

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  19. #19

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    So it looks like he has to fly into gustavus after all. thank you

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