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Old 01-12-2018, 10:07 AM
Veetail88's Avatar
Veetail88 Veetail88 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Hales Corners, WI
Posts: 874
Default Alaska adventure

I'm planning an adventure/sight seeing trip this June or July to Alaska via the Seattle area. I've never been up in that corner of the world nor do I have mountain flying experience.

I know there are lots of you that have done similar and I'm wondering if you all might share some routing and safety tips/suggestions, "you don't want to miss it's", things to see, places to stay and what's the best time of the season weather wise to make such a trip.

Planning a 9 day round trip.

Thanks ahead of time for your help!

Oh, also, a side arm would be nice for forced landing/hungry grizzly bear defense would be nice, but I think it's not legal to carry across the line or in Canada. What say ya'all about that?

Jesse Bentley
N229Z - RV-8 - Flying - Livin' the dream!
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:37 AM
vic syracuse vic syracuse is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Locust Grove, GA
Posts: 2,374

We have gone 3 times and are headed back this July. If you subscribe to Kitplanes you can read about the trip, along with some tips, in the archived articles.

You can carry a shotgun in Canada, but carrying firearms is a hassle with Customs. I do take a crossbow and some flares and bear repellant.

I see your trip goes up the Coast. We plan for that, too, but have had to go up the "Trench" twice due to weather.

You are certainly welcome to call me for what it's worth.

Vic Syracuse

Built RV-4, RV-6, 2-RV-10's, RV-7A, RV-8, Prescott Pusher, Kitfox Model II, Kitfox Speedster, Kitfox 7 Super Sport, Just Superstol, DAR, A&P/IA, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor, CFII-ASMEL/ASES
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Old 01-12-2018, 03:25 PM
ralph skorupa ralph skorupa is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: WI
Posts: 20
Default Alaska

Followed the Alaska hwy. The mountains really weren't an issue , but there are frequent weather problems and few alternates so have a flexable schedule and a few extra bucks. There were hotel rooms at Whitehorse above the FBO and the Merrill Field Inn was a convienent hotel in Anchorage. It was our most memorable trip.
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:57 PM
BobTurner BobTurner is online now
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 5,396
Default So much to see!

As the others have suggested, the coastal route often has poor weather, and few and far-between decent sites for an emergency landing. And the water is cold! But if you have enough range to go Bellingham WA to Ketchikan non-stop, you can avoid Canadian customs and take whatever firearm you want. Also avoids the hassle of US customs. If stopping in Canada, rifle and/or shotgun only, no handguns.
The "trench" route is quite stunning. There are a few dirt strips along the way, if you need to carry 5 gal cans of gas you can stop and add it!
Do you like camping? Watson Lake (north end of the Trench) has spectacular camping. Also can have spectacular mosquitoes! US Forest Service has a number of "cabins" (more often Quonset huts) next to remote airstrips. You can reserve them for some nominal fee (used to be $25/night, probably a lot more now). We stayed at one just SE of Yakatat, beautiful place.
Fishing? That time of year is near the end of the salmon season. Read the permit about dealing with bears who like salmon! Or go to Sitka and charter a boat. We found a guy who would take us (just the two of us) out for a half-day; the retail value of the halibut we caught was more than the charter cost of the boat! We also liked Palmer ("quaint"). And as long as you're there, you should plan to fly up to Mt McKinley/Denali if it's clear.
Flying in Alaska is unlike the lower 48 states. On departure from Palmer, the FSS briefer looked out the window at the 1200' OVC, said, "Looks like a nice VFR day". I called a hotel on the Copper River, they had a room, I gave them my credit card number. As an after thought, I said, "How's the (dirt) runway?" They replied, "Oh, don't land there! It's under water! Just land on the highway, like everyone else does." Of course, Alaska also has an accident record to go along with this attitude. Make sure your insurance is valid there (some policies are okay with Canada but exclude Alaska). And plan to be weathered in for a few days at some point. It may or may not happen, but be prepared to wait it out.

Last edited by BobTurner : 01-12-2018 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:42 PM
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joe_rainbolt joe_rainbolt is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Northern California
Posts: 79
Default One hop to Alaska?

I've been thinking about this trip myself ever since completing my 48 state tour last summer. Of particular interest to me is the initial leg from northern WA to Ketchikan AK. shows the shortest route from Orcas Island (KORS) to Ketchikan (PAKT) as 515nm. LOP at 7.5 to 8 GPH yields about 30 gal for the trip assuming we could manage 140kt or better over the ground. A ten gallon reserve at the destination does not seem excessive considering the location.

So the leg seems do-able, weather permitting, but am I missing something? Is it advisable? How much trouble would I be in if I had to divert to a Canadian airport without first having cleared customs at the border?
Joe Rainbolt
RV-7A slow build complete 4 July 2016

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Old 01-12-2018, 07:06 PM
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Greg Arehart Greg Arehart is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Delta, CO/Atlin, BC
Posts: 2,308

The leg from NW Washington to Ketchikan is doable from a fuel point of view. Check your bladder capacity. And the weather can be clear, but not often is all the way. You might get lucky but with a 9-day itinerary (really too short to see what you should see, particularly with potential weather delays), I wouldn't count on it and surely not both ways unless you are willing to fly IFR in the clag at least some of the time.

If you take a sidearm (I don't recommend it) and end up stopping in Canada either coming or going, you will likely lose it to customs. Shotgun or rifle is ok, will cost you $25 at the border when you cross into Canada.

I will be in residence in our cabin in Atlin BC (CYSQ) for the summer, and welcome anyone traveling through that needs a place to stay. I also have the key to the fuel pump there (historically cheaper fuel than Whitehorse, but I make no guarantees on price). If I can provide any information or assistance, please don't hesitate to pm or email me either now or in summer (we have no phone at the cabin, but do have email).

Airport at Atlin is about 3500 ft, well-maintained gravel. Not an issue for any RV.

Greg Arehart
RV-9B (Big tires) Tipup @AJZ or CYSQ
N 7965A

Last edited by Greg Arehart : 01-12-2018 at 07:07 PM. Reason: added airstrip info
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:12 PM
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Mark Dickens Mark Dickens is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Collierville, TN (KFYE)
Posts: 1,037

If you follow the rules, entering Canada in a general aviation aircraft is no big deal. I flew into Alberta back in September in my Cirrus for some hunting and all of my Customs interaction was on the phone (Minot, ND and Saskatoon, SK). It did take some time, but it was painless. If I had known about the CANPASS program (see, it would have been even easier. I would not take any additional chances just to avoid flying in Canada. If I was making this trip (and I would like to sometime), I'd get registered with CANPASS and just fly the route I wanted to fly.
RV-8 #81077 Super Slow Build
Titan IOX-370, Dual P-Mags, AFP FM200A FI, Sensenich GA Prop
First Flight 11/20/2016
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:12 PM
vic syracuse vic syracuse is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Locust Grove, GA
Posts: 2,374

We left Seattle on the last trip for a supposedly VFR flight up the coast. Ketchikan was also forecast to be VFR. Ended up IMC for almost 3 hours, with an approach to minimums at Ketchikan. Was just pushing up the power for a go-around when the runway numbers popped into view.
BTW, coming down final in IMC there were 12 ADSB tagets that looked to be on downwind. Turns out they were all seaplanes coming up the channel!

Bottom line, be prepeared for the unexpected, and have extra fuel. Run your engine at best range setting, not best power, while up there.

Vic Syracuse

Built RV-4, RV-6, 2-RV-10's, RV-7A, RV-8, Prescott Pusher, Kitfox Model II, Kitfox Speedster, Kitfox 7 Super Sport, Just Superstol, DAR, A&P/IA, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor, CFII-ASMEL/ASES
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Old 01-12-2018, 09:22 PM
larrys larrys is offline
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 109
Default Alaska Airmen Show

Too bad you are not going a little earlier in the year. We go to the Alaska Airmen show and have a booth in the show. Alaska is like a big small town. And it is not hard to find good food. But so far I have flown commercial each year.
It sounds like a great adventure.
Have a safe flight!
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Old 01-12-2018, 10:56 PM
alpinelakespilot2000 alpinelakespilot2000 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,491

Not sure if anyone has already said this, but the difference in weather before and after after July 4 in this part of the country is pretty significant. Before the first week of July the weather is wildly variably. After the 4th until after Labor Day it's quite a bit more consisently good for flying (or anything else outdoors).
Good luck planning your trip. You'll enjoy it for sure!
Steve M.
Ellensburg WA
RV-9 Flying, 0-320, Catto

Donation reminder: Jan. 2019
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