Alaska is a very complex aviation environment. Flying safely here requires thorough planning and special attention. When well planned, flying in Alaska presents no particular problems and can be very inspiring. Alaska summer flying weather is generally good with long daylight hours. But expect delays due to adverse weather and marginal VFR conditions. Do not push the weather. Weather reporting points are far apart. Ask for and give pilot reports often. Though VFR flight plans are not required, they are strongly recommended. Much of Alaska is mountainous. The correct entrance to mountain passes can be deceptive. Dead-end box canyons are common. Airports are separated by great distances so fuel planning must be accurate and alternative routes/airports seriously considered. Magnetic variation may be as much as 25 degrees east. Be vigilant in tracking your flight across the ground. Icing conditions are encountered year round. Most of Alaska's runways are gravel. Many are not lighted. Airspace around major population centers can be quite crowded and contain special restrictions and requirements.
Alaska state law requires that an airman may not make a flight inside the state with an aircraft unless emergency equipment is carried as follows:
1. The minimum equipment during the summers months is: food for each occupant to sustain life for two weeks; one axe or hatchet; one first aid kit; one pistol, revolver, shotgun or rifle and ammunition; one small gill net and assortment of fishing tackle; one knife; two boxes of matches; one mosquito headnet for each occupant; and two signaling devices such as colored smoke bombs, pistol shells, etc. sealed in metal containers.
2. In addition to the above, the following must be carried as minimum equipment from October 15 to April 1 of each year: one pair of snowshoes; one sleeping bag; one wool blanket for each occupant over four.
Alaska state law also requires that an airman may not make a flight in the state with an aircraft unless the aircraft is equipped with an approved downed aircraft transmitting device capable of indicating by radio transmissions the position of the aircraft when grounded because of mechanical or other failure at a place other than an airport. The device shall be of sufficient durability to withstand the impact of a crash, and then be capable of being activated so as to transmit an effective signal on a preset emergency distress radio frequency to enable the location of the aircraft to be found.
A well organized trip packette on flying in Alaska and Canada can be obtained from the FAA Regional Accident Prevention Program Manager, Flight Standards Division, 222 West 7th Avenue, #14, Anchorage, Alaska, 99513-7587, phone (907) 271-5912.
Several publications are available which contain descriptive information about Alaska's airports, seaplane bases, and aircraft landing areas. Publications that you may be interested in obtaining are the Alaska Supplement from the NOAA Chart Sales Office, "Aviation USA" from the Aircraft Owner's and Pilot's Association (AOPA), and 'The Aviator's Guide to Alaska'.
'The Aviator's Guide to Alaska' contains descriptive information about Alaska's airports, seaplane bases and heliports; a preflight planning guide for the lightplane pilot flying VFR; facility date, airport manager's phone;fuel suppliers, lodging and restaurant information; local emergency services; and area attractions. Also included is a resources section containing details about flight in Alaska, sources of aeronautical information for flight in the north, Alaskan aviation organizations, activity calendar, emergency phone list, GPS identifier index, and other reference material. This is a commercial publication available from:
The Great White North Aviation Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 75163
Fairbanks, AK, 99707
Phone: (907) 452-4693
On the Net, see 'Guide to Bush Flying' by F.E. Potts This book describes bush flying based on the author's experience in Alaska. This web site is virtually the entire book, chapter by chapter.
An Important Air Travel Note:
Many communities in Alaska have banned the importation, sale, and/or possession of alcohol within their boundaries. Pilots flying within Alaska are well advised to determine whether their destination is one which does not allow alcohol. Some local governments require that all persons arriving at the airport submit to a personal search before being allowed to enter the village. Pilots need to be aware that landing with alcohol aboard in villages which prohibit alcohol may result in confiscation of their aircraft. Pilots who are unfamiliar with the alcohol regulations of communities that they intend to visit may contact the Alcohol Beverage Control Board at (907) 277-8638 for information on specific locations.
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