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Thread: Southwest Alaska flight photos

  1. #1

    Default Southwest Alaska flight photos

    Took a quick trip to PADL this week. Looks like winter is starting out there...

    Sun getting low over the Nushagak River on the way to PADL.

    View upriver over the Nushagak.

    On the way home today, pancake ice was floating down the river.

    Our only snow came in a bit of a blizzard...wonder which way the wind was blowing?
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  2. #2
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Kachemak Bay Alaska


    Makes a guy glad to have trees....
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member

  3. #3


    I've grown to love the variety out here, including areas with trees and big expanses without, mountains and flats, and lots of little lakes everywhere. But real trees are interesting sometimes...
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  4. #4
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Kenai Peninsula, Alaska


    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    But real trees are interesting sometimes...
    Seward has "real" trees. I used to have "real" trees too, till the beetles got to them.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  5. #5
    Member EMoss#83's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007


    great photos thanx for sharing
    "f/64 and be there"

  6. #6


    Took a trip yesterday to give some stick time to a guy that is interested in learning to fly. We took the scenic route to visit Tikchik Narrows Lodge by flying over to Ekwok, New Stuyahok, and Koliganek on our way up. Was a bit windy at those three, so he got to see some crosswind landings, plus we were bucking a major headwind so the flight there took quite a while. The strip at the lodge is just a narrow track, maybe 1700 feet long (maybe shorter, not sure). Here we are, parked at the far end of the strip after landing, with my copilot walking up the strip to the lodge.

    One of our local flyers was here to visit a mutual friend who is the winter caretaker, and his recently acquired spam can was parked at the other end of the strip as we got to the lodge.

    The lodge setting is pretty was the weather...not sure I've ever seen better flying weather, even with the headwind on the way up it was smooth and beautiful, and dead calm around the lodge.

    When we got ready to go again, my copilot lost his head...

    We pulled the airplane forward in the gravelly grass at the end of the strip, then set it ready to roll forward. After we got in and ready, we got everything ready, fired it up, and blasted out of there. It was lovely. Quite an amazing little spot for a lodge, which has been there a long time.

    On the way home we went looking for caribou, and we turned up a group of around 10 at one point but none other than that. We will have to work a little harder to find some when we get ready to go hunt this winter. On the way back home we crossed the Mulchatna River near its confluence with the Nushagak.

    Copilot in training.

    And some dude that needs a shave.

    Moonrise over the Alagnak River was pretty awesome.

    Sunset over Bristol Bay.

    And finally, the moon just a few minutes after the Alagnak moonrise photo, as the sky color was deepening, was getting really impressive...pretty cool.

    Good flights all.
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  7. #7
    Member RocketRick's Avatar
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    Apr 2010


    Excellent photos and concise narrative too.

    I enjoyed that.

    Thanks Troy.


  8. #8


    Had a brief window of completely mild winds and sunny weather, one day only, so I blasted off to take a look at Mount Martin and points nearby. It's been pretty cold, it was -2F this morning and had only warmed to positive single digits by the time we launched in early afternoon. But there was an inversion, and as we climbed up we found some comfortably warm air. Which is good since my plane leaks air into the cabin like a sieve.

    After all the cold weather, the small lakes are all well frozen, but the big lakes are a different dynamic. Naknek Lake was well frozen on the western 10 miles or so, then some open water. By Brooks Camp, actually by Mortuary Cove, there was a strange scattering of pieces of ice sheets, will be interesting to see what it looks like after the warmup that is arriving tomorrow comes with snow, rain, wind, and temps rising to the 40s by Friday.

    After a couple passes around Brooks Camp, we flew on to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. A few days back, the valley had no snow on the surface, and some high winds were picking up ash and carrying it to Kodiak. Usually our high winds seem to go the other direction, and nobody notices except us. But when the ash starts dropping in Kodiak, the volcano observatory usually gets some calls asking when the eruption happened.

    "Oh, about 100 years ago..."

    Now there is a nice thin blanket of snow, but the ash is visible where the watercourses have carved down through it.

    The eruption actually came out of Novarupta, which is the little lava plug in the middle of the photo. The largest eruption since Tambora, and it didn't even come out of a proper mountain...which wasn't known for a while afterward.

    We climbed up, then swung down to Mount Martin to get a photo of the steaming summit caldera. On a nice clear day with the right atmospheric conditions, we can see it from King Salmon and Naknek by the steam plume above the horizon. It was visible even yesterday. Today, it was steaming away in there. As we flew past, the smell of rotten eggs was overpowering. I assured my passenger that I didn't do it.

    As we flew on across the upper end of the Valley, Mount Griggs was standing tall above the valley.

    From there, we continued over Mount Katmai. I've been meaning to get up to get a look at it, but there is always somewhere else to fly that I'd like to see, but today everything worked out. An amazing day. Mount Katmai was originally thought to be the source of the 1912 eruption before they discovered that the ash sheet was thickest around the Novarupta vent. They thought it came from Katmai because it was the highest mountain in the area, and then it was gone, the summit had collapsed. In fact, it appears that the eruption at Novarupta drained the magma chamber beneath Katmai, and it then collapsed in on itself.

    Grabbed a shot of a pretty fabulous little canyon on the back side of Snowy Mountain with the sun lighting it up just right...

    We flew on for quite a trip, but the light got a little more subdued as a cloud layer moved in and the light got pretty flat. But we flew past Hallo Bay, then turned west and went down Kulik and Nonvianuk Lakes, then down the Alagnak River. As we descended, we were back in the inversion and the mountains began taking on odd shapes. I've tried to explain how it looks to people, but I never seem to get a good photo. I need to remember to take a telephoto lens along. In the meantime, here's a shot...those mountains in the distance aren't really shaped like that...and they aren't really that tall...

    As we got back home, I was descending when all of a sudden it felt like we were flying through a bowl of mush. Looked around, and the instruments all claimed everything was fine, but it just felt totally WRONG. Looked outside again, then scanned the instruments...and realized we were flying down through the inversion. I looked out and picked a mountain and pulled power to descend through the layer. As we went through, I saw the mountain mirage effect transition from one in which we were above the reflecting layer to where we were below it...and all of a sudden we were flying smooth again. Funny.

    Good flights everyone.
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  9. #9
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Palmer, AK.


    Nice photos and narrative. Appreciate you posting this.

  10. #10


    A friend of mine wanted some hood time today. We are in the middle of a warm-up phase, but the ceilings were forecast to be high, the visibility was forecast to be good, and the wind was forecast to be almost calm. Usually when it gets warm in the winter, one of these factors is more in the realm of unpleasant...but not today.

    We got ourselves over to the airplane and launched as they were reporting clouds at 1100 feet...which is quite a bit lower than forecast. But I was already paying special attention to the weather, as the low hills to the north of the field had a low band of clouds moving across in front of them that was visible as I was driving down the road.

    When I go flying in the winter I have a bunch of survival gear in the plane. In this case, it was pretty warm out, above freezing anyway, but I threw in my super-warm parka and bibs just in case...

    On climb out, we found ourselves bumping against a thin layer at 400 feet...then as we ducked back under we could see up through it right to blue sky. So we went up through a hole and off we went. From above, it was super-thin, and localized to King Salmon, with more low clouds down toward Naknek. Since Josh was under the hood, it was up to me to keep an eye on conditions, and since both King Salmon and Naknek were flyable, I figured we'd just stay close and take whichever was still open if one of them closed down. And if all else failed, I have a friend with a private strip up on slightly higher ground that was completely out of the fog layer to the east.

    Josh flew a bunch of turns, descents, climbs, and combinations. I had him go to climbing and descending turns, he flew a couple stalls, and we did some unusual attitudes. Finally, he had had enough and pulled off the hood. At that point, the lake was totally open, clear, and beautiful.

    But the layer over King Salmon had solidified and was no longer something you could look down through. Hmm. The last 20 minutes of Josh's hood time I had asked him to dial in the ATIS and while it was low, it was still fine for getting in to the field via a SVFR clearance, with good visibility reported at 10 miles and a ceiling of 400 feet.

    Now that he was done hood flying, it might be time to head in?

    No, in our brilliance, we decided to take a quick swing up to where we had gone moose hunting...

    After a run up to the Alagnak River and back, the weather was still the same on the ATIS, but the low layer as we dropped down and approached was looking pretty unfavorable... We could still see out to the east fairly well, but it was getting pretty low. After making contact with the tower, they asked us to report 5 north, but at 6 north we couldn't see 5 we swung east and told tower we were headed around. They cleared us into the surface area anyway, and asked us to report 1 mile out. We flew until we reached King Salmon Creek, then started heading down the creek. As we turned toward the field again, the visibility got poorer and poorer. But there was a little sliver of better visibility right down along Pike Ridge, which looked like we could perhaps all the way to the Naknek River. So we headed down along the ridge.

    The tower called up to ask our location, and to tell us that their best visibility from the tower was toward Pike Ridge...right where we were...and sure enough the visibility to the west went from crummy to awesome right then, and we had a clear view of the field. They asked us our choice of runway and cleared us to land, and in we went. After shutting down and getting ourselves halfway through the process of putting the plane to bed we looked around and the clouds had completely descended on the field...we couldn't see the tower 1/4 mile away. I've gone into the field in low ceiling and visibility conditions before. But that's the first time I have flown in with about 10 minutes to spare separating me from a night somewhere else...

    And I very much doubt that the field in Naknek would have been any better. And my friend's field looked like it was likely completely fogged in as well on Pike Ridge. So we would have been spending the night in Levelock, or Igiugig, or maybe Kokhanok. Which might have been its own adventure, but I'm happy enough to save that for another time. time it is sounding marginal below I think we might do less dawdling...
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  11. #11


    Yesterday a friend and I went to Bethel and back. Neither of us had ever been there and we had been talking about making the flight sometime so off we went. We had a pretty solid headwind on the way, and since we wanted to know our fueling options, we stopped in Dillingham to make sure the self-serve fuel was open and functional. The landing was a bit sporty, as the winds were at 260 at 11 gusting 17, so the landing was as close to a direct crosswind as you can get. The Tri-Pacer actually handles that pretty well. But at 20 gusting 30 I might have been landing straight across the runway onto the taxiway...

    Had to taxi behind an Everts jet to get fuel, so I took a taxi route that had me taxiing toward the rear of the jet in order to see how much wind was coming off the idle generator turbine you can always hear from those things on the ground. Ended up being none...but I didn't want to be the subject of a youtube special.

    From DLG, we climbed up and went over the mountains between Lake Nunavaugaluk (maybe my favorite place name in all of Alaska...I'm always suggesting it to parents looking to name their newborns...everybody thinks I'm joking...) and Lake Aleknagik.

    Josh is actually taller than I am...he's 6'5" and I'm 6'4"...luckily the Island Girl is a little bigger inside than our other PA-22 was. We are still crammed in there, but the last one was even tighter.

    The mountains between Dillingham and Bethel are for the most part not very high, but they are a beautiful mix of rounded tops and jagged ridges.

    With the headwind all the way to Bethel, we were looking at our fuel burn and calculating our options. We had been flying entirely on the right tank. I told Josh I would be switching when we were five miles out, and we should have about 2 gallons left in the right tank by then. With the wind at our back, we should be arriving back at Dillingham with 45 minutes of fuel...if the wind dropped maybe closer to 30 minutes...both of us have 1 hour we decided we really may as well stop and ask for fuel.

    The wind was 290 at 12, so we got cleared straight in on 30. I was looking at the airport diagram, and it looked like it might be hard surface for the first little section, with the overall runway length at 1875 ft. I couldn't remember a landing with substantial wind that was angled right down the runway, so I was interested to see if I could get it down and stopped on the pavement...

    As we approached, Josh was looking ahead...

    "I thought it was a gravel runway, but they have the runway end numbers painted on...I think it is paved!"

    "Yeah, I was noticing that the runway had sections that looked hard surfaced in the diagram, if I read it correctly, the first little section is paved, then gravel."

    "Okay, that makes sense."

    As we came in, the wind was steady and smooth, so I stuck it right on the numbers, pulled power, pulled on the brake, and was stopped in time to taxi off before the gravel. Google satellite imagery suggests the entire paved portion is 475 feet or so. Aiming at the numbers, stopped where I did, I was probably down and stopped in about 400 feet. I don't think I'll bother to enter the short field competition at Valdez. But I think I could have done that landing every time...felt pretty good. In fact, it feels like I have fully transferred my skills to this airplane, similar as it is.

    The tower directed us to Crowley when we asked for fuel, but it was after 6 pm and we didn't find anybody there. At the Yute Air terminal another pilot walked over and asked us if we needed fuel, then he called a number and a few minutes later a truck pulled up to fuel us.

    We headed back in short order, our very abbreviated visit to Bethel complete. It is really only around 40 or 50 miles of complete flat country between Bethel and the first hills, and in some ways it isn't that different from the Bristol Bay lowlands. But it does seem a lot flatter.

    The mountains were beautiful on the way home.

    We flew a couple laps around the Muklung Hills looking for wreckage from the Ace B1900 crash this winter, but didn't turn up anything. We kept thinking we were looking at it, but then when we got a better look it was always rocks.

    Winds had died down to numbers more like we had in Bethel by the time we landed at King Salmon, a lovely end to a lovely flight.
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  12. #12


    Been awful busy, I have a few photos I need to get developed so I can post...but yesterday I had a quick flightsee tour with some co-workers. I let them take the photos, so all I have are images from a quick landing at Levelock and another at Kulik. Had a great day, smooth air but with a bit of rain and some low clouds in places. Have to take the family to Kulik, you can walk right down to the lake from the end of the strip.

    Levelock break.

    Hiding from the rain at Kulik. We were parked in the middle of the strip because I hadn't walked the sides and a good friend found a really soft spot last year that sort of ruined his day...
    14 Days to Alaska
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  13. #13


    Took a friend for a flight a few weeks back to look at the volcanoes in the park. The weather was great on our side of the mountains, but clouds were hanging around right along the divide, so we didn't get to see some of what we went looking for...but we still had a great trip.

    On the way, we got a look at Savonoski River, in all its braided, multi-channeled-ness.

    Ash covered glacier near Katmai Volcano.

    Mt Griggs standing tall.

    The southwest corner of Katmai has some lovely country that is hardly noticed my most, as it isn't very accessible. But it is quite lovely.

    The Kejuliks don't look like the rest of our mountains. Even though we have lots of active volcanoes, our mountains don't have particularly jagged tops...except for the little spine of the Kejuliks.
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  14. #14


    Flew to Anchorage and back a couple weeks ago also. The weather was lovely both directions, at least on the days I flew. On the way, Iliamna was steaming, but it was also holding a cloud bank that had pushed in from the other side...made it look like it was really puffing away.

    The white mountains stood out against the dark waters of Cook Inlet, as did Chisik Island.

    I crossed right next to the vent of Redoubt at 9,500 feet, and it was steaming away. This is the closest view I've had.

    The Drift River Valley was snowed in all the way to the bottom, but a pretty good avalanche field was at the bottom of one of the ravines.

    There was a layer of cloud over Cook Inlet, but the mountains to the west were in the bright sunlight.

    Yes, that's right, the price of AvGas in Anchorage is less than the price of car gas in King Salmon. By more than a dollar. And nearly four dollars cheaper than AvGas in King Salmon. So I topped off. Too bad I don't have bigger tanks so I could top off higher...
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  15. #15


    The trip home was nice too. I really like the knife edge ridges.

    Another look at Chisik Island.

    Woody Island in Lake Iliamna was lovely in the sunlight.

    Took a quick bladder break in Kokhanok.

    14 Days to Alaska
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  16. #16


    It is good to see someone is documenting the alaska dream your new tripacer looks great if you ever need to stop at birchwood let me know in advance and I will come down.

  17. #17


    I've flown over Birchwood a number of times...never stopped in. I'll have to make a visit. I'll let you know when it might work out.
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  18. #18


    Yesterday we had a rare convergence of good weather and a day off for me. We usually try to get out and take a boat ride, but this time we decided to have a picnic with air support, something we've never done before. With our friend that lives with us, we make a five person crew, so no way to do a single load. I dropped off my wife and son, then headed back for daughter + 1. On the ground to load them, I left the strobe on and the master on, and then couldn't get the plane started. Starter stuck engaged when I tried to turn it no hand prop either. So we ran home for the generator and the charger and got it all back ready...then launched the second flight. Apparently son was just deciding they might have a problem. The weather was great, but bumpy. Best air was finally when I stuck near the ground for the final return flight. Apparently the day was a success, as wife is talking about making another visit to the same spot to camp...

    Every place is a good place to knit.

    Maybe it was also a good place to run...

    Daughter the budding artist.

    Our household photo.


    Lichen, Labrador tea, dwarf birch, and crowberry.

    Shallow bay on Nonvianuk Lake.

    The east end of the strip is public, the west end is private. I landed and stopped in the first few hundred feet, then lifted off in the next 1000 so I didn't have to back-taxi but was not using the private end.

    King Salmon Creek on the way home.
    14 Days to Alaska
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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2013


    What kind of main gear struts are those on N624A?

  20. #20


    The main gear are welded steel, and connect into the frame inside the cabin under the seats, with an oleo strut that goes from the seat frame down to the gear. On each oleo strut are two bungees, usually 1080's, but I know a gentleman that prefers to put on one 1280 and one 1080.
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