Around the World – Update 9
As in previous updates, I’ve talked about what course I would take once I reached this point in the journey. I decided a while back that I would head out across the Aleutian Islands if it was possible. I spent some time researching all my alternatives while on the ground in Tokyo and determined if the weather was cooperating once I reached UHSS, I could safely head east to UHPP. This is a distance of just a little over 700nm. While it is pushing my personal comfort level, I have traveled this distance before without issue.
In most of the planning for this trip I have relied on equal parts of luck and judgment. While I would never take unnecessary chances, I have plenty of good data on what my Mooney can and can’t do. Best of all, I know when the Mooney turns from an airplane into an expensive glider.
The day arrived to make the long 712 nm crossing to UHPP. The weather was better than perfect. Weather reports showed winds aloft at 260 @40. This was exactly what I needed. I departed UHSS and headed for UHPP. This would be the final leg of a very long day (partially covered inupdate 8). I knew it would be late in the evening when I arrived, but I had to keep going as the weather was perfect for the crossing.
The fuel capacity on my Mooney is 66 gallons. I made the crossing to UHPP on 62 gallons with 4 gallons to spare. Not bad…but I’m glad this is the last of the long distance water crossings. The remaining sections across the Aleutians will be in the neighborhood of 450-550 nm legs. But now that I’m safely on the ground, it is time for bed. My ride to the hotel awaits.
The next flying day has arrived. I departed UHPP headed to ATU on the Alaskan Island of Attu. I departed North America on 1 October when I flew from northeastern Canada to Greenland. Now almost six weeks later, I’m officially back in North America and have crossed the international date line.
My travels continue east from ATU to PADK, Adak Airport on Adak Island, Alaska. After a brief stop for fuel, I pushed on to PADU in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Dutch Harbor has been made somewhat famous from the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. My wife and I both love this show and is pretty much the only reality tv show we watch. I wanted to spend a little more time in Dutch so I checked into the local motel for the night.
The next day started early. I departed Dutch and continued northeast through the Aleutian Islands. This has been a fun route. I’ve tried to keep the legs short and have enjoyed flying into the small island airports. I plan to continue this northeast direction on through the Aleutians until I reach the southwest corner of Alaska. At this point I plan to continue somewhat around the southern Alaska coastline and will spend a little time exploring around the Pacific Fjords. I now own the Orbx Pacific Fjords scenery and will visit some of the smaller airfields represented in this software package. I’m thinking of adding the Tongass Fjords X scenery as well. Ok…well when I looked at the website I couldn’t resist. So I will now have plenty of eye candy to keep my entertained as I fly through southeast Alaska and northwest British Columbia. Once I return to Colorado, I think I’ll take a vacation to this area of Alaska and British Columbia and rent a float plane and really explore this region.
From Dutch I headed towards Kodiak Island and PADQ. The weather was nice which made for great flying weather out of Dutch. I did fly over the Dutch Harbor area and it looked like several crab boats were getting ready to head back out. I look forward to watching their adventures next Spring on Deadliest Catch.
I think if all goes well I can be back in Colorado just before Thanksgiving (about 10 days from now). When I started this journey I really had no idea how long it would take. I’ve done around the world flights before but never in a single engine prop plane. A few things I really didn’t know when I started this journey as just how frequently I would be able to fly. So I honestly thought it would be sometime after the first of the year before I arrived back home. But I’ve made great time and have been able to fly a lot more days than I thought.
Oh by the way, how do you like the Polaroid’s? I had been blogging directly to my WordPress site via a web browser. This had worked fine up until just a few days ago when the text of a draft blog article completely disappeared. Ouch that really hurt as I had been working on it for several days. So I started looking for offline options. I wanted something I could work on draft articles which would be saved locally to my hard drive and then I could upload them to my WordPress blog site. Voila….Microsoft to the rescue. Windows Live Writer to the rescue. WLW allows me to do just what I wanted. I can upload the draft versions so they are backed up to my site. The Polaroid frames are just some of the features of WLW. But enough about this.
After refueling I departed Kodiak Island and headed north to fly over Homer, Alaska then turned east towards Chenega Bay, Alaska and a small gravel airfield C05 where I’ll fuel and continue on towards the south to Sitka, Alaska. Sitka will position me to spend a little time exploring the Tongass Fjords and Pacific Fjords add-on scenery software I spoke about earlier. Before leaving Sitka, I plan to look into float plane rentals and will certainly be back up this direction to explore all this area has to offer very soon.
Once I finish my quick exploration of Tongass Fjords and Pacific Fjords I’ll continue heading south through British Columbia, Canada towards Washington State and Starks Twin Oaks Airpark (7S3) for which I have the add-on scenery from Bill Womack. I think my general direction will be a fairly direct route on down to Colorado passing through northeast Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and then into my home state of Colorado. From Starks I estimate it to be at least two flight legs which is certainly doable in one day.
I arrived in Sitka, Alaska on a very overcast afternoon as you can tell from the photograph above. But I’m done for the day and plan to ask around to see what might be available for rental now as I’m eager to explore for a few days. I talked to the guy down at the float plane area and he told me he had a very nice C185 Amphibian model. I could pick it up immediately and keep it for as long as I wanted. With the weather being what it was I opted to wait until the next day as I heard the weather would be clearing.
The next day arrived and it was time for me to go down and pickup the rental. I left my Mooney in safe hands and signed out the C185 Amphibian and departed for a day or two of discovery around the Tongass Fjords. I thought it would be nice to spend a night or two at one of the many US Forest Service cabins in the area. Most are accessible only via float plane or by boat with some hiking. I’m not opposed to some hiking, but this is a flight sim blog, so I’ll stick to float planes. I’ve picked a few areas I wanted to visit. These are all in the vicinity of Sitka.
The first area I thought I would visit was about 12 miles from Sitka called Salmon Lake. It was a little hard to find but I found it and managed to land on the lake without issue. I pulled the C185 up on the bank and was in the process of getting out when a brown bear walked up. I decided to quickly close the door and let the bear have salmon lake. I would go elsewhere and I did.
I decided to fly up north of Sitka as there are several cabin locations to choose from and I would visit a couple and decide which one I liked the best for this trip. Of course I would also be researching for future trips as well. But bottom line is I’m having fun exploring this beautiful area of Alaska. I will say, I hadn’t done much float plane operations until now. Sure I’ve played around with the default models…but have never done this type of adventure flying. Some of these cabin locations are situated in small bodies of water and in tight coves. It might look like trying to land a 747 in a bath tub, but with practice you can ace these water landings with ease.
After visiting about a half dozen of the cabin locations near and north of Sitka, I’m going to head up and check out the Glacier Bay National Park area. The glacier I’m going to explore today is in Taylor Bay (fitting huh). Flying along the glacier was an awesome experience. Perhaps on my next trip to Alaska I’ll rent a plane with skis and land on a glacier. Of course I need to read up on my rules and regs to make sure that doesn’t break the law.
After exploring the glacier a little more (from the air) I decided it was time to head back to the cabin I selected. The cabin is Goulding Lake Cabin, located about 60 nm northwest of Sitka. The cabin is nice and secluded with a canoe. I’m just hoping the bear stays away this time.
Well I’m going to publish this update and spend a few days here in this cabin doing some fishing and relaxing. I’ll pick the story up again once I return to Sitka, Alaska and pickup the Mooney. This will start the final update, update 10 which will take me all the way back to Colorado.