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Alaska Day 15, Flying “The Trench”

August, 2016

I’ve flown 900 miles from past the Arctic circle but I’m still 1,500 miles from home – the equivalent of half way across the country.  I miss Betsy and the dogs and just kind of want to get home at this point. Most pilots that fly the inland route (as opposed to the coastal route I flew on the way up) fly along the Alaska highway where there are frequent places to land, however you can save 200 miles by flying “The Trench” which is two deep valleys connected with a 3,500 pass. Places to land?  Until the last section you can land on either a gravel bar if you can find one or directly into the river.  It really messes up your plane but is highly survivable so I chose to fly The Trench.

Low vis 2 (Large)

Looking down “The Trench”

DSC01427 (Large)

My Avidyne 540 display showing terrain – Yellow is caution and red is terrain at my level or lower. I’m nestled nicely in The Trench.

Trench (Large)

I’m OK here, but what is up ahead and to the right? Turns out more of the same – for almost two hours.

Wierd lake (Large)

I diverted to look for float planes – that would have been an awesome photo.

The terrain is low, but true to its reputation, the peaks on either side are in the clouds when I fly it and I occasionally pass through almost zero visibility rain showers.  Thank goodness for new GPS and terrain mapping technology which shows me the way and where not to go.  Thunderstorms are popping up as I get to the end of the ditch so I divert to Prince George and land for the night.

I read somewhere that there is airport camping at Prince George but it doesn’t look inviting so I share a cab into town with a helicopter pilot for the Canadian government.  I walk around town but it is kind of depressing. Sure – its mainly an industrial gateway town for the mining and oil activity in the north, but there are mainly homeless drug addicts and native American prostitutes walking around town.  I find a decent restaurant and settle into a booth and have a nice slow dinner with a couple of drinks.  Time to get home so I make plans for a long day of flying the next day.

Next: Home!

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