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Thread: VFR Fairbanks to Anchorage

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Post VFR Fairbanks to Anchorage

    Hi. I'm new to the Interior and looking for some local knowledge on the best VFR route from Fairbanks to Anchorage. The obvious answer (for any of a number of reasons) is to follow the highway; I'm just wondering if there are reasons one highway would be better or worse than the other i.e., predominant weather or turbulence in a particular area/pass, fuel availability enroute, etc. With the way fuel is lately, I can sympathize with the "shorter is better" mentality in regard to flight planning, however, given the remote nature of the geography involved, safety seems like more of an issue. I'm talking about a light plane like a Piper Pacer or Cub, Aeronca Sedan, C-170 etc. If I could cruise in the flight levels, I wouldn't bother asking the question...but who wants to be up there when there's so much to see! Thanks in advance!

  2. #2


    I can't speak to the eastern route, other than it presents in different places the same exact issues as the ones below. All things being equal I would not detour all the way around Delta Junction and Glenallen to get south. Either way you have to fly through passes. Flying the highway is always a good thing if one is available. Seldom does more than a month go by that I don't see a plane parked in a pullout or driveway between Nanana and Talkeetna after a successful forced landing. Which is a good thing, no?

    The Parks Hwy route presents (in my opinion) three things to watch out for above and beyond the usual "watch outs.":

    1) Windy pass. You may have CAVU until you reach Healy and then be presented with a wall of white at the entrance to the pass. Easy enough to mitigate: turn around and land somewheres else until it clears up. Same with the south end of Windy Pass just north of Cantwell, the gateway may be obscured. I live literally inside the pass, and seldom do I see conditions in here (generally centered around the confluence of the Nanana River and the Yanert River) that are dangerous other than some squirrelly winds, it is getting in or out of it at one end or the other that can be difficult with a lot of moisture in the air. But there are two airstrips in the pass itself that present landing spots if you get in trouble, with lots of room to turn around in a slower plane.

    This is all usually in the winter and fall though. Summer is better. But summer brings a lot of outside pilots flying the same route - fly the VFR altitudes and watch out for other planes in your vicinity - blind transmissions of your location entering, midway and exiting Windy Pass are a good idea in the summer.

    2) Broad Pass/Denali State Park. If it is raining or snowing ceilings can get very low. I was hiking at Little Coal Creek in a steady drizzle last year, ceiling was MAYBE 300 feet AGL when here comes a Cessna 182 scud running along the highway heading south. I try not to judge but in mountainous terrain there is no guarantee that around the corner that 300 feet won't turn into 30 feet in that kind of weather in the state park. Anyway, not much weather reporting in that stretch, you have the FAA webcams at broad pass and in the summer PIREPS (in the winter it is often that I am the only single engine plane flying either direction through there for a day either side - at least filing PIREPS.)

    3) Trapper Creek / Talkeetna - in the summer a lot of traffic flying perpindicular to your track to/from the mountain, best to stay high (over 5000 msl) or low (under 1500 agl or so) to stay out of their way with your head on a swivel until you reach the "Y."

    Oh, and in the summer, afternoon and evening thunderstorms between Fairbanks and Healy and again around Talkeetna.

    This isn't SE Alaska, flying isn't THAT bad and most days of the year flying conditions are good. I moved here with just over 100 hours in my logbook and though I've learned a lot I find the route no problem if a little lonely in the winter Use Flight Service RCO's on your route for weather update and for heavens sake do us all a favor and give them a PIREP, especially in the off-season. The rest of us appreciate it.

  3. #3


    Oh, and fuel...on the parks highway you can get 100LL at Nanana and Talkeetna, I'm not aware of any retail fuel available in-between.

  4. #4
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Chugiak, AK

    Default Fuel at Nanana

    I would like to fill up with 100LL at Nanana, Would you have a point of contact, are they open only certain hours or do they have one of the credit card pumps.

    Thanks Terry

  5. #5
    Member AK-HUNT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default yeah

    nenana fuel contact please? i could use that one.
    thought it closed.

  6. #6
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Kachemak Bay Alaska


    You are more likely to run into military training operatons by following the Eastern route. I'd like to know were the gas pumps are at Nenana as well.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member


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