Flying in Alaska: Braving birds, ice and open water

Father Scott Garrett, the Pastor of the Holy Rosary Mission (in Dillingham, Alaska) who uses a 160 Cherokee Warrior to fly to the many remote areas within his parish, has recently written an interesting post for the Alaska Dispatch’s Bush Pilot blog about the three major hazards he has to contend with (besides the bad weather) while flying up in Alaska. These hazards include open water, icing and migratory birds.

For the first hazard, Father Garrett has to fly over close to forty miles of open water on his route from Dillingham to Egegik and he noted that:

If a single engine should fail during the water crossing the only option is to land on the water, and then, well, freeze to death. When flying to Egegik I always fly around the bay and cross at the mouth of the Kvichak (Kweechak) River. This adds an additional thirty miles to the route.

This is actually a great piece of advice for pilots everywhere to follow – unless of course you are a UK based pilot trying to get from the UK to continental Europe and back again!

Secondly, Father Garrett noted that icing is a problem for his much smaller and slower single engine aircraft as these types of aircraft tend to pick up more ice faster. However, multi-engine aircraft will usually climb or descend at a faster speed. Hence, they will pick up less ice.

Finally, Father Garrett wrote about how he was flying to Egegik and another hazard appeared: Thousands of migratory birds. Of course, this is also a hazard faced by pilots as far away as New York City!

Father Garrett also included a great one minute video with his post that comes from his YouTube channel that is dedicated to flying up in Alaska.


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