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Guest Lucas Kaelin

2014 Alaskan VFR Challenge

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

The phone rings, it’s barely 6am and the sun isn’t up yet. It’s your friend, the boat captain down in False Pass. His boat broke down and had to be towed back to the dock yesterday. He says he has to wait on parts to come in from Anchorage and it will be a few days. He wants you to take his load of about 800lbs of halibut on ice over to the processing plant in King Cove.

The short notice pickup isn’t uncommon, and for once will fit nicely with the rest of your day. There’s a group of 3 hunters over on Sand Point who chartered you to drop them at Bear Lake for some hunting over the weekend. Let’s hope they don’t mind a little fishy smell in the plane, better grab the new air freshener out of the truck before jumping into the plane. You also make a reminder to double check your fuel load before leaving, there simply isn’t any 100LL until you get back home to Cold Bay.


Welcome to the next chapter of the Alaskan VFR Challenge events. In the past we’ve seen the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Sitka, and some challenging navigation a little northeast of Anchorage. This challenge takes us out to the end of the Alaskan Peninsula, the eastern most Aleutian Island of Unimak, and forces us to some interesting gravel strips. The usual VFR Challenge rules apply, although you’d better make sure you file a flight plan this time as you’re crossing out of then back into the ADIZ. As always, there's useful information made in the posts about the last VFR Challenges, each one linked to the previous. 2014 Colorado 2013 Boston Overwater

Some wonderful airport (although dated) photography of a few of the airports:

Cold Bay False Pass King Cove Sand Point Johnson's Landing (Bing since you can't see it on Google)


Date: Sunday 13 Jul 2014, 1700-2000 Eastern

2014 Alaskan VFR Challenge

Difficulty: Moderate 2/4 – Short & Soft Fields, Fuel management, Nearby Terrain

Airports (in order): PACD-PAKF-PAVC-PASD-Z52-PACD

Route planning is left to the pilot, but we encourage sight seeing along the way, if your fuel planning can stand it!


Standard VFR Challenge Rules still apply:

  • General aviation aircraft are preferred, and aircraft may not exceed 150 KIAS.
  • Navigation is to be by pilotage and dead reckoning only. NO radio or GPS navigation is permitted.
  • All published airspace boundaries and special use airspace must be avoided unless special permission has been received from ATC.
  • Proper use of published UNICOM frequencies is required for non-controlled airports. Communication with ATC is required at staffed airports.

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Sounds like fun! Might have to intercept people who break the ADIZ without a flight plan :)

Devon Hathaway - BVATC Scenery Design  "Cross Devon at or above 4000, cleared for the ILS RWY 9R approach"

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

Bump for tomorrow's event!


The dashboard just said 100 degrees when I got in the car to leave work, and only got to 95 by the time I got home 20 miles later! I'm ready for a trip to a cooler climate if only for a flight sim event!


After much discussion amongst the A-Team and myself, as well as several attempts to contact PANC FSDO for clarification, we've determined that DVFR flight plans are not required. We would like to encourage pilots to file them in FlightDesk just for practice, although there won't be any controllers on to administer or monitor them. We had considered having Evan provide Flight Service again for us as he did in the Inside Passage Challenge, however, he/it will not be available for the event. I look forward to seeing everyone there for some fun tomorrow afternoon!

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

Looking at the weather forecast for tomorrow, it's not looking good. A large area of IFR/LIFR/Barely MVFR is sitting in the event area and not forecast to move out until late Monday/early Tuesday. I'll keep an eye on the weather and provide an alternate event routing in the event it continues long term IFR/LIFR.

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Better plan on following the coastline. With 2500 ft overcast conditions (at 2100Z) and MEF's exceeding that across the area, you can forget about taking any direct routes. Sounds like a fun challenge!


Current forecast for Cold Bay:

Forecast for: PACD (COLD BAY , AK, US)

Text: PACD 131304Z 1313/1412 08011KT P6SM VCSH BKN035


Text: FM132100 11018G23KT P6SM -RA OVC025

Forecast period: 2100 UTC 13 July 2014 to 1200 UTC 14 July 2014

Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change

Winds: from the ESE (110 degrees) at 21 MPH (18 knots; 9.4 m/s)

gusting to 26 MPH (23 knots; 12.0 m/s)

Visibility: 6 or more miles (10+ km)

Ceiling: 2500 feet AGL

Clouds: overcast cloud deck at 2500 feet AGL

Weather: -RA (light rain)


Cold Bay, False Pass and King Cove have weather cams.

check them out at: http://avcams.faa.gov/index.php

Gary Paraski  (GP)

Instrument Pilot - ASEL


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Sounds like fun and also a great challenge, given the current weather. I better print out the sectional, it will be fun!

Watching the World Cup finals right now. Once Germany is done kicking some Argentinian behinds, I will join in.

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Guest Jonathan Asher

Trying to plan for the event, are we still aiming for Cold Bay? VMC in Cold Bay, IMC False Pass, and Marginal at Sand Point.

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Doh, wish I'd checked the forums for this beforehand. Now I know what shyfly meant when he mentioned "the story" in FlightDesk earlier.


That said, this was very enjoyable, and was great practice at reading and using sectionals for navigation. It was also great to hear so many people on. Thanks for organizing this, and I look forward to future challenges with you folks!

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

Thank you guys for all the positive feedback, it's good to hear that everyone enjoyed themselves and the challenge!


This is usually the part where I post a bunch of sharp looking screenshots of a certain modified Carenado C185, but for some odd reason I was maniacally using the Print Screen key for screenshots instead of V. So I of course have no screenshots to post, unless you can hack my brain or computer history (do so at your own peril :lol: ). I was very glad to see widespread marginal conditions for the length of the event, permitting us to use the planned route. Sometimes it's better to go up with plans for cloud avoidance and some adventure than a boring straight line CAVOK flight.


I hope everyone got the chance to learn at least one thing, I know there's a few pilots who certainly learned more than others. There were several VFR into IMC encounters; one of which was in close proximity to terrain, while scary, managed an amusing outcome. I also know of at least 2 pilots who decided that it was a nice enough day to go swimming in Bear Lake! While the air and water temperature technically disqualifies them from the Polar Bear Plunge badge, we shall comically remember why short field landings are important.


As a result of the forecast LIFR, I've also come up with the next route I plan to use for the next Alaskan Getaway & Challenge! In the mean time there's already a terrain avoidance challenge planned for one of the most scenic National Parks, and several requests for a PacNW challenge! Watch the forums for more details on these as they get closer and make the schedule. If you just can't wait for the next challenge, search back in the forums and fly some of the previous ones you may have missed out on! Good luck, and enjoy the rest of the Getaway!

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Thanks Luke for this well planned Challenge, which I could not attend, because of real life matters.


I do want to suggest, to amend myself, that I will fly it again inside the Getaway week days, and I invite members to fly it again and again, building traffic in Alaska during off event peak hours.


Still to amend myself for not participating on the day of the event … I must say that I did fly some areas of the challenge the day before, as a practice run. VFR to IMC was a real challenge the day before, too ;)


Hoping for the next ones!

Gilles | CYUL | Founder of the "TANGO SQUADRON" - BVA member since July 31st 2008



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