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Thread: Closing flight plan

  1. #1
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    Default Closing flight plan

    I have a question that I feel like I should probably have an easy answer, but I don't know what's best. In regards to closing a flight plan, what's the best way to do it when you may not have radio access on the ground? I flew into Seldovia once and couldn't raise Homer radio and didn't have cell access. I was able to get to a phone and close my flight plan. But, it got me wondering... often the landing may be the part you want that "free insurance" for; however, you may lose radio coverage before you're comfortable closing your plan. Any suggestions or common practices? Thanks!

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    In Seldovia for instance, (122.9) you still should be able to reach Homer FSS on 123.60 if you call at altitude when you are up above Seldovia Point and well within gliding distance to the runway.

    A few years back myself and some other CAP members went looking for a pilot who we had already gone searching for a couple years earlier. He had a cabin next to the glacier lake which is across from Nuka Island on the lower outside part of the Kenia Penn. His wife was freaking out because he did not call her on his sat-phone to say he had made it.
    We found him frolicking on the beach with somebody or another and he had forgotten to call his loving wife back home.

    In that area there is pretty much no radio reception unless you use a marine frequency and call the Coast Guard. Even at fairly high altitude we could not get any RCOs to pick-up. That is a great place for a sat phone or maybe even a SPOT device. At least you could send a message to a friend or family member. Or better yet a Delorme 2 way tracker / como set. (DeLorme inReach SE Enables Two-Way Satellite Messaging and GPS Tracking )

    Usually I use my wife and my buddy down the road as my real flight plan notification points.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    Alex,
    That pilot near Nuka Island that you were looking for would be me and you have your facts wrong. At the time my wife was in Europe and it was not possible to contact her by phone. The system we had arranged was that I would call my father on the sat phone who would then email her. This worked fine and she was notified in a timely manner and was not freaking out as you put it.
    She in turn was then supposed to notify my son in Wasilla by email but due to circumstances beyond her control was not able to do that and it was him that called the troopers.
    While I appreciate you flying over please make more of an effort to get your facts straight in the future.
    Mike

  4. #4

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    I file flight plans with my wife and friends not flight service. Not that flight service is bad but they do not know you!! They will try to find you if you are overdo on your flight plan but they only have your direct route and destination to look for you. unless you have also given then your cell and place you are staying they have minimal things to go by. I am in contact at this time by text with with a friend at his cabin (voice not capable) He will text before he leaves if no follow up in 1 hour I know I have to start looking and call backup. I have been to his cabin a lot!!! I know what backup strips are in the area and where I would crash if needed. As far as closing flight plan at Seldovia do it while you are in the air in sight of the runway or better yet if you are flying in up here and not renting a apartment where is you sat phone!!
    DENNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    Or better yet a Delorme 2 way tracker / como set. (DeLorme inReach SE Enables Two-Way Satellite Messaging and GPS Tracking )
    Thanks FP. That's essentially what I do for Seldovia now. I hadn't looked into the DeLorme before... I'll take a look at it. Any pros or cons you've experienced or heard about with it?

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    Alex,
    That pilot near Nuka Island that you were looking for would be me and you have your facts wrong.....While I appreciate you flying over please make more of an effort to get your facts straight in the future.
    Mike
    Maybe not.....

    I could have sworn the guy I talked to in person after I landed on floats was not named Mike. A mostly black PA-18 on floats out of Lake Hood???? Over in the little inlet that is just north of Tonsina, across from Berger Bay. He had a mix up in spousal communication a year or so before over near Bear Cove, across from Homer. Same black Super Cub then too.

    We have to take the word of RCC, the troopers or the FAA guys about whether or not somebodies spouse was not a happy camper.

    According to Av-Canada, mine was very vocal about what she was going to do to me when I forgot to close out my Canadian section of my flight plan from Williams Lake BC to Oroville WA. According to the Canadian system I had just flown off and was not heard from again. So they called my wife to see if she knew where I might be. ( I was someplace over eastern Washington heading south ) They said the cussing was quite spectacular when I called them later.

    Another search in the same general area involved a friend of mine who was a PA-12 driver. He had problems down by the lake at Gore Point. His fuel ran out through his carburetor while he was goat hunting. He could not make radio coms and he switched on his old 121.5 ELT periodically. I flew around that area for three hours and kept getting the elt signal for 30 seconds and then it would go off again. He was trying to save the battery.
    One big problem was that we were not really sure which lake he had landed upon. He did stop here in Homer for fuel on the way down, but he was cryptic in his destination description. And he later admitted that his plane was tucked under some trees along the shoreline and that I had flown right over him.
    Finally Jon Berryman found him by accident and hauled fuel out to him a couple days later because of a storm. If he had a sat phone or something like that, we could have hauled gas out to him at least two days earlier.

    Unfortunately, he augured in a year or so later while doing a food drop up near Resurrection pass. In that case a kid had to runs for a few miles to get cell phone service to call for help. So that one was not you either.

    We had several lower peninsula searches initiated by various agencies. I have been on a few, Elizabeth, Pearl, Windy Bay, ect...but I was not at all of them.


    The only Maule driver I really remember personally looking for involved a mechanical failure-to-start down by Chrome back in 2004. ( Man that was 10 years ago) The incoming tide tore up that pilots plane.

    Fortunately, that pilot had legs and survival skills like a mountain goat, so he managed to climb up and then down a very shear ridge line and hiked over to Dog Fish Bay lodge. He managed to radio contact a Coast Guard plane somehow or another and basically saved himself.........

    .......Because while he was missing,,,,RCC was sending all of the search planes to the wrong places over and over. Plus the FAA, FSS folks might have really had more info about radio contacts that we never heard about until after the fact. Another case where some sort of reliable communication or signal device would have been nice. But I am not sure what was available ten years ago. and if it was,,,, could anyone have afforded to buy it back then???
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    Alex,
    On the day in question I'd flown a Maule on floats over that was beached up in the lake. It appeared whoever flew over from Homer was in a 182 that circled the beach and lake long enough to see the plane, determine all was well, and then leave. Since I had successfully notified everyone I was supposed to I assumed the 182 was thinking about landing on the beach and decided not to. Several days later when I got home I learned of the mix up.
    And since you can't make this up, the Maule pilot you looked for in 2004 was also me. Since this thread is about closing flight plans in Seldovia, it's worth mentioning that that flight's original destination was Seldovia. I was going down to make sure our house there was ready for the winter. For all the reasons previously mentioned in this thread I had stopped filing flight plans to Seldovia. While I had no problem being able to close them once on the ground (there are a couple phones if you know where to look) the usual scenario was that someone in town would see me land and come out to meet me. S#!t happens and before I knew it I'd be helping launch a boat or get a recalcitrant truck running. Eventually Andy (town police chief) would find me and let me know I'd forgotten to close my flight plan...again.
    So, as has also been stated here I would never forget to call my wife so that was the system used in lieu of a flight plan and was always a priority once there. Additionally, friends in Seldovia would usually be expecting me and if I didn't arrive they'd start to ask why. On the particular day in November 2004 I left Palmer about noon and was supposed to call my wife when she got home from work at 4:00pm. Palmer to Seldovia is pretty much a straight shot over Homer but on this day the weather wasn't all that great and I ended up flying down over closer to Soldotna and Anchor Point. Winds and turbulence were pretty bad, but about the time I started across the bay the wind died and things cleared up to where it was a pretty nice day.
    At the time there was some extreme stress associated with my job and the clearing weather really brightened my mood. So much in fact that I wasn't ready to end the flight. Since it was only about 2:00 and I had two hours till I had to call my wife, I went sight seeing around the end of the peninsula.
    About the time I was turning around to come back I saw the beach at Chrome and since it was low tide and I'd never been there I landed. 20 minutes after landing the engine wouldn't start and you know the rest. At the time there was criticism over not filing a flight plan and suggestions were made that had I filed one all would have been different. In actuality, it didn't make any difference as friends in Seldovia pulled the trigger on notifying the RCC about 4:00 when they realized I hadn't landed.
    What would have been different had I filed a flight plan was that I would have modified it with Homer FSS before deciding not to land initially. If there's anyone out there who in 20,000 hours of flying has never once deviated from your planned route of flight just for the heck of it please feel free to criticize.
    The subsequent search (And thank you for your efforts in it BTW. When I made it home six days later after a little help from the Coast Guard and Air Force I was quite humbled at the efforts expended trying to find me. I bought more than a few lunches for guys who'd been out looking so the next time I'm going thru Homer lunch is on me if you're game) was actually hampered by my ATP rated wife who would kill me if she knew I ever said that. She told the RCC and everyone that I "always call Homer FSS" on my way down and since Homer had never heard from me I never got that far. She should have known that the call to Homer was actually a traffic advisory. Since on this day I passed over Anchor Point and was well clear of their traffic I never called Homer.
    Anyway, thanks again for your efforts, as well as the time you put in with CAP. My dad was very involved with CAP in Oregon so I know the value of that organization.
    Mike

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    The best way to communicate if you are stuck somewhere is straight up. Know the Anchorage Center frequency for the area you are in. This used to be the only way we could close our flight plans in the NE Brooks when the coastal fog moved in. There are aircraft at 20-30K feet overhead that can relay your mssg. You need to know what frequency to use. Ask the aircraft that answers, to relay to Center that you need to close your VFR flight plan. This sort of thing happens all the time, the high flyers are glad to help you out. Know all the resources out there....

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    Good Point Piper Cub.
    At least that way you would know somebody heard you.

    My stupid SPOT gizmo has not worked on a couple of occasions and there was no way for me to know that until I came home or somebody came looking. That is why I think a DeLorme unit would (might) be better. I have had a couple clients who use them and being able to send or receive a text message sure is nice.


    the clearing weather really brightened my mood. So much in fact that I wasn't ready to end the flight.
    Been there and have done that... Yesterday, again,,,, in fact I darn near ran out of gas it was so nice......
    My neighbor down the road, Darren and Doug the dentist were probably the guys in the 182.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    This makes a lot of sense, pipercub... thanks.

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    You need to know what frequency to use.
    What would you suggest?
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    It is printed on the low/high enroute charts. Nearest function on most GPS frequencies search. Ask FSS what the freq is where you are going to end up.

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    Personally I do not fly anywhere without my satellite phone and Inreach. My sat phone is padded and waterproofed on my person and the Inreach is on the dash.

    I am surprised every pilot doesn't have a sat phone by now. Probably the best investment I have made to give my wife and family peace of mind while I am gallivanting all over the state (many times solo).

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    Good news for Seldovia, new cell tower! You can get coverage almost everywhere. If you don't have it at the airport just walk towards town and you'll get a signal.
    When all else fails you can usually get a transport on 121.5, we always had a radio on it in remote areas. When you look at the big picture of a search being activated , you are just fine using 121.5, I would doubt anyone would have a problem with it.

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