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Thread: Flying to Alaska Summer 2010

  1. #1
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    Default Flying to Alaska Summer 2010

    My wife, my Debonair and I plan to fly to Alaska from Seattle in late June to early July. We are looking for anyone with a license and their own plane to come along with us.

    Also, this will be my first time flying to AK so any advice or suggestions are welcome.

  2. #2
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Since this is your first time, I respectfully suggest that you fly the inside (inland) route. Further that you stay near the highways and the major passes.
    Avoid being temped to make shortcuts to save a few minutes.

    We spent a few weeks this summer looking for a brother pilot and his wife who disappeared while trying to fly out in their V tailed Doctor Killer. We never found them!

    The Canadians are anal about reporting via radio when you are near even the most remote airstrips. It is a very good idea since they are all connected via repeaters. So it counts as a good position report.

    Remember to do all the customs stuff ahead of time. The Canadian customs people are nice folks,,, but ever since 9/11 the US customs folks have been forced to mix with the Homeland Security yahoos and TSA ding dongs. So they are loosing their sense of humor..., not to mention some of the folks they have hired would have been rejected for metal instability in the old days.

    What is your cruise range and cruise airspeed?
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
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  3. #3
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    I have a range of about 650 nm at 145 KTS.

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    WOW!

    If the winds were right you could make it from Blaine Washington to Ketchikan, and thus avoid all the customs BS... It is about 506 NM direct and really 560NM with detours around things like mountains and controlled airspace.
    But that is lots of over water flying in an area known for crappy weather... But if the winds and weather were right....and if you could hold off a bathroom break that long.......


    When I ferry slower flying planes like Super Cubs or 172s, I usually take the Route Via
    Seattle to
    Oroville Washington... US customs... Great burger place in town.
    Penticton BC......Canadian Customs.
    Kamloops BC.......I have slept in the gas shack
    Williams Lake.....nice BnB there
    Prince George...expensive hotels
    Piney Pass.........Or here the route splits to the trench route.
    Fort St John....
    Fort Nelson.... spendy hotels in oil town, cold as hell in winter...
    Watson Lake..guy who sells av-gas has a BnB.
    Whitehorse...........Customs going other way.
    Northway Ak, ...US customs
    Then Tok for pizza and start to head home...

    The trench route goes along a couple big long lakes north from the Piney pass area (MacKenzie) straight up to Watson Lake.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    Thank you. I will look into those places. All your advice is great.

  6. #6

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    Homer (PAHO) and then Seldovia (PASO). Kachemak bay is nothing less than spectacular. Good food, fishing and lodging in both.
    The winner isn't the person with the most gold when they die, but rather, the person with the most stories.

  7. #7
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    Default Grizzly 1

    Quote Originally Posted by DR Debonair View Post
    Thank you. I will look into those places. All your advice is great.
    Float Pilot has it about right, though I'd pick up on some good home-made pie and coffee while at Northway, and then just scoot on into Anchorage. It'll only be another one-plus-thirty or so from Northway. Hope for reasonable weather after Glenallen-Gulkana. You'll be going past Sheep Mountain (another good place for pie and coffee . . . . . ) and then down the Matanuska River. If you're VFR, you'll want a comfortable ceiling there. If IFR, don't worry about it .....

    Have a GREAT trip!

    Mort Mason

  8. #8
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Now that I think about it,,,If you are used to be long and wide runways,,, Tok may not be the best place to stop.. The runway may seem a bit cramped...

    I used to stop and stay at Northway, but the last couple of times I went through their the local drunk kids were going crazy all night are their 4 wheelers all around the airport / motel. So I hauled all my junk back out to the plane (at night) and flew 40-60 miles up to Tok and stayed at the Motel across the hwy from the airstrip. It was much more quite and the restaurant is pretty good these days. But I make my living landing in small areas. A fast bird that lands hot may be more interesting.

    There are all sorts of interesting places to visit while you are up here. And it would seem that your plane is fast enough to make the trips fairly pleasant.

    What type of runway length do you prefer? I would hazard a guess that you want to avoid rough gravel and rocks.


    I have a Guest Pilot Cabin that I rent out to visiting pilots. Plus I use it for my float rating clients.

    If you get to the Homer area (5,600ft paved strip) I can put you up for much less money than the local hotels.


    From Homer you can zip over across the Bay and land at some of the smaller town / villages. Take half and full day fishing trips, do some horseback tours or 4 wheeler tours. May some sea Kayaking...
    Plus on a good weather day it is a fast trip down to Kodiak from here.

    One of these pics should be my guest pilot cabin. Anotehr is the local area. I have a bunch more photos of our area. send me an e-mail at dragonfly@alaska.net
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    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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  9. #9

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    Also recommend, stopping in Whitehorse, Canada; Dawson City, Canada (if you like history type stuff) and Chena hot springs resort outside of Fairbanks (I think you have to call to get permission to land there). The Pizza in Tok is called Fast Eddie's and is pretty good.
    The winner isn't the person with the most gold when they die, but rather, the person with the most stories.

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    Default Thank you

    Thank you. This is all great advice.

  11. #11
    Member rugersbro's Avatar
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    Default Flying to AK

    Quote Originally Posted by DR Debonair View Post
    Thank you. This is all great advice.


    My son flew up last year about the same time and is flying up again this year end of May around the 18th or First of June
    The plane is a 172N as in the Avatar.

    If you are interested in touching bases, PM me.
    Here are some sites to look at.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...reply&p=644948

    http://akweathercams.faa.gov/allcams.php

    http://philip.greenspun.com/flying/alaska

    http://alaska.woodenpropeller.com/

  12. #12
    Member Toddler's Avatar
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    Default Good Idea's

    I would have to second Seldovia and Kodiak (try Henry’s in Kodiak). If you are looking to fish you might even try Iliamna and walk down to the Newhalen for Red Salmon, its not as crowded as the Kenai. Homer is always fun and it looks like you have an “in” there with Float Pilots offer.

    Cordova and Seward are nice too. You can’t go wrong with just about any small town here. You will find lots of hospitality and things to do. Just make sure you have a plan B for anyplace you go as far as weather. Set your limits before you go and stick to them.

    You might even be able to talk some folks into an afternoon fly in someplace.
    Normal people believe that if something ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

    Scott Adams

  13. #13

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    Well, Rugersbro. I think all airplanes in Alaska should be painted "brightly" like that. Not as many would go missing I think.
    Seriously, I bought an airplane out of Nome back in the late 1980's. Was a 135 airplane then and painted bright orange, and I mean BRIGHT.
    I like the paint scheme on the 172. Makes mine look pale.
    Unc

  14. #14

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    Dr. Debonair! I think most anyplace you land between there and here will be an experience. You almost can't go wrong as long as you can get fuel if you need it. I suggest planning your trip around where you can get fuel and you can't go wrong. Heck, I've never had a really bad hamburger or pizza anywhere when I'm hungry. Enjoy the trip and the country. That's what it's all about.
    Unc

  15. #15
    Member rugersbro's Avatar
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    Default Red Baron

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle View Post
    Well, Rugersbro. I think all airplanes in Alaska should be painted "brightly" like that. Not as many would go missing I think.
    Seriously, I bought an airplane out of Nome back in the late 1980's. Was a 135 airplane then and painted bright orange, and I mean BRIGHT.
    I like the paint scheme on the 172. Makes mine look pale.
    Unc

    Thanks for the kudos. The problem is, after I painted it, I had to have a hangar. Then I wouldn't land on old dirt roads and on the tops of dirt dams.
    Although it looks great it screwed up my bush flying, landings.
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    Default fly to AK

    Just make certain that you have a plastic pilot's license with English proficient stamped on the back or you will not be able to fly through Canada. Go to www.faa.gov to get one if you don't have it.

  17. #17

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    Debonair, I live in Seattle and did the trip once in a 182. We flew the hiway and had a great trip. I am based in Renton, I have video of the trip if you would like to see it. I hope to do it again it was so much fun! Glen

  18. #18
    RMK
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    Default The "Logbook"

    Go to the Alaska Airmens Association web page and feel free to contact the people listed on there. They used to sell a flying the highway manual called "The Alaskan Airmen's Logbook." http://www.alaskaairmen.com/

    I don't see it listed anymore, so it may be out of print. I used it when I last flew the highway in 2000, and it was quite helpful. It's a spiral bound book of maps and information for the entire trip. I'm sure you'll find some good advice even if the book is no longer available.

    Make sure you get your maps ahead of time and a copy of the Alaska Supplement. I'm sure you're relying of GPS like we all do these days, but there is no substitute for a good old sectional for VFR flying when all else fails.

    Someone mentioned having a plan "B" for your trip. I fly VFR only, and got stuck in Whitehorse for a few days. I just rented a car, and hit the local sights, and some not so local such as Skagway.

    Have fun, but don't push the weather. Canada and Alaska are both big places, and have some long stretches between landing strips. The beauty of flying the highway is you have a 2000 mile emergency strip under you.

    I got all the info I needed ahead of time from the FAA website, Customs, and the Canadian equivalent. The Canadians have a user fee system, but it doesn't cost much.

    Make sure you're up to snuff on some unique requirements to flying across the border. It's become sort of a pain since the new DHS took over. Canadian and Alaskan laws can actually conflict with each other when it comes to survival gear and firearms.

    I stayed in everything from a B and B, to a hotel, to a pilots lounge, to a tent. Watson Lake has a pretty cool taxi up camp ground if you're the adventurous type.

    I had so much fun, that I flew up to Dawson City, Canada to get married. You've got to love a place that sells you a marriage license at a liquor store.

    Cheers and good luck.
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  19. #19
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    Default This my route

    This is the route I plan to fly. If your plane can fly ~140 KIAS, and if you are familiar with any of these areas, I would love to have you show me around for a few hundred Nautical Miles of my trip.

    Seattle
    Abbotsford
    Prince George
    Dawson Creek
    Watson Lake
    WhiteHorse
    Fairbanks
    Deadhorse
    Barrow
    Nome
    Denali
    Anchorage
    Kanai
    Kodiak
    Homer
    Seward
    Valdese
    Cordova
    Yakutat
    Glacier Bay
    Skagway
    Sitka
    Ketchikan
    Seattle

  20. #20
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Let me know if and when you need a place to Stay when you are around the Homer area. I can set aside my guest pilot cabin for you if needed.
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    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

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