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For England, turn left

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Back in the Autumn I took the Duke across the Atlantic from the UK to SoCal for an event organised by my VA. Then at the end of November, I took it north to BC for another event over the Christmas holidays. Well, it's been sat at Orcas now for the best part of a month, accruing ramp fees for no good purpose, so it's time to bring it back.

I couldn't face another bleak midwinter Atlantic crossing, so instead, I'm going to turn left at Alaska, and go the other way...

Leg 1: Orcas Island to Prince Rupert

Distance: 440nm

Flight time: 2.4 hours

Fuel: 137 usg


The map


The plan. If I'd used my alternate as the primary, I'd have stayed within the USA, and bypassed Canada altogether!


Getting ready to depart. Baggage is stowed, plus fresh thermos and extra windscreen scraper.


It appears to have snowed somewhat since I was flying here in December!


Occasional mountains seen through the clouds


Now and then, I scrape the ice of the inside of the windscreen to see what's what. Ooh, look - a hill!


Final for prince Rupert. You'd believe it was VFR down here on the ground!


Parked up, and off in search of fresh coffee and moose-flavoured crisps...

Here's a postcard:


I used to have a Hornby version of this train when I was young!

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They're not cropped. Just shrunk (a lot). My FS display is 5040x1050... :)

That sounds like heaven Tim and this looks like the start of a very interesting adventure :icon_thumbup:

One thing regarding the shots though, as you know, the forum resizes screenshots to a uniform dimension and the user can click on the shot to see the full size? The trouble is, because your images are embedded in a url it fires up Imageshack instead and takes away the impetus from the shot, can they be posted in image tags only?

It's not a problem if it is a condition of using Imageshack but it would make it more enjoyable for our viewers!



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Leg 2: Prince Rupert to Yakutat

Distance: 440nm (total distance: 880nm)

Flight time: 2.6 hours (total time: 5 hours)

Fuel: 108 usg (total fuel: 245usg)

Continuing the trip back to the UK, and pushing on up through the Alaskan Panhandle. We're very much limited for alternates, and consequently we've nominated CSPER as our Go/No Go Decision Point. If the weather at Yakutat is unsuitable, we'll either divert to Juneau, or return to Prince Rupert (the other options get complicated since we're starting in Canada, and so this is an International flight)

Also withouth the stonking headwind we were able to complete this flight using a much more economical cruise setting, saving us 29usg, at the cost of just 10 minutes flight time.


The Map


The Plan


An early start on the ramp. Actually not that early, cos the days are short and the nights are long...


At the hold, ready to backtrack. A last glimpse at what is a nicely decked out airport


Every journey starts with a mile of tarmac!


And we're off. Okay, another last glance at the airport ;)


Beautiful scenery surrounding Prince Rupert


We were able to find a way through gaps in the clouds to come out on top. Our cruise altitude was 16500ft, no trouble for this pressurised bird.


Top of descent. The skies are clear as we start to descend into Yakutat.


The Yakutat Peninsula. Yakutat is Tlingit for 'the place where canoes rest'


The Hubbard Glacier (to the NE of the airport - we might take a quick look next time) is one of the few glaciers that are actually advancing.


Final across the forest


Down and parked.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Leg 3: Yakutat to Kodiak

Distance: 421nm (total distance: 1201nm)

Flight time: 2.3 hours (total time: 7.3 hours)

Fuel: 108 usg (total fuel: 353 usg)


Today we're striking out across the Gulf of Alaska. It's a nice day, and we're cruising once more at FL165. Consequently we're never really out of sight of land.


Leaving Yakutat


Well, that's the entire extent of the 'over land' portion of this trip!


Coming up on the interestingly named Icy Bay


Kayak Island


Middleton Island is our one enroute waypoint



When the land is in front as well as on our right, then we know we've nearly arrived, and need to begin our descent.


Kodiak is loaded with instrument approaches, but we don't need them on this occasion.


A bevvy of beechcraft

Today's postcard:


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Leg 4: PADQ Kodiak to PAHP Hooper Bay

Distance: 472nm (total distance: 1673nm)

Flight time: 2.8 hours (total time: 10.1 hours)

Fuel: 120 usg (total fuel: 473 usg)

This represents somewhat of a diversion. I was originally going to cross the Alaskan Peninsula and island hop through the Aleutians (I actually did fly as far as Cold Bay, but none of the pictures came out). A bit of a rethink, and the presence ofAnchorage Center online, led me to this new route.


The weather this day was severe clear. Even so I decided to file IFR - not because I needed to, but because it would be a shame to waste the opportunity of end-to-end top-down ATC cover. And a bit of chat always makes a trip more fun.


The sky may be clear, but the winds are 24G28, which rather dictates the runway we can take off from. We need to make sure we can outclimb the hill at the end. Our DP puts us into a right turn to cross the ODK VOR.


Feet up... Heave!


An interesting IFR clearance: "Follow that channel"!


That's Afognak Island on the left, and Kodiak on the right.


Alaska has much variety of landscapes. There's snowy and flat...


or snowy and hilly...


Overhead Bethel. Hard to spot, but there's traffic taking off on the runway, three miles below. ATC was good enough to point out there was no confliction!


Descending towards Hooper Bay. The airfield is at the far side of the bay you can make out above my left engine.




Taxying in.



The Hooper Bay Police Department

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  • 3 weeks later...

Leg 5: PAHP Hooper Bay to PASY Eareckson Air Station

Distance: 827nm (total distance: 2500nm)

Flight time: 4.4 hours (total time: 14.5 hours)

Fuel: 195 usg (total fuel: 668 usg)


There was a shorter route across the sea, to Provedenia Bay, but that's little more than a strip, with no facilities, and would effectively leave us stranded on the Chukchi Peninsula, with very little (in the default FS) in range. And so we strike out across the sea, for 827 gruelling miles...


Lining up at Hooper Bay


And We're off


The American mainland recedes into the distance. We're climbing to FL200


Nunivak Island, covered in permafrost. Over 1 million acres (it's the 8th largest island in the U.S.) and a population of just 210.


FL200. It took over half an hour to get up here! Hope the O2 holds out!



Starting our descent, we can see some of the smaller Aleutian Islands on our left.


Wheels down


Final. Eareckson Air Station is a US Air Force base on Shemya Island


And down. There's not much here in FS, and only a bit more in real life!



The Cobra Dane intelligence gathering radar, on Shemya. It monitors Soviet ballistic missile testing on Siberia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

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Petropavlovsk, and then Japan, I think. It gets a bit more vague after that. Probably South Korea. China looks to be pretty difficult (very few airports), so it's either North through Mongolia, or South to the Himalayas and India.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Leg 6: PASY Eareckson Air Station to UHPP Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky/Yelizovo

Distance: 572nm (total distance: 3072nm)

Flight time: 3.0 hours (total time: 17.5 hours)

Fuel: 127 usg (total fuel: 795 usg)


In some senses this flight took 27 hours, since we cross the international dateline and jump ahead 24 hours.


Eareckson is a bleak and desolate place. Bleak, desolate and windswept.


There is a stonking crosswind on this day - 18kts across the runway on the ground.


But that's nothing to what's going on in the air! Here, I'm crossing the Attu NDB, and flying straight ahead from the camera's perspective. That's all crab angle!


We climb to our cruising altitude of FL200, and very soon, FS's weather depiction disappears. With the Siberian coast coming into view, we start our descent.


The Earth's curvature is quite visible at these altitudes


Landfall is at Cape Shipunskiy, with the PK volcanoes visible in the distance.


Approach to the airport takes us over the city of Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky ("PK")


Kamchatka is on the Ring of Fire, and the nearby Avachinsky volcano reminds us of that fact.


Passing over the town of Yelizovo, while on final for runway 34-Right


Safely on the ground. Welcome to Russia.


Being checked out by a local (this flight was on Vatsim, and generated a certain amount of interest)



View of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky's harbour from Avacha Bay, with Mount Koryasky rising in the background.

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Great shots there. At least there are not many sections over water left now.

I'm planning a big trip with the Royal Turbine and I'm currently seeing what sort of endurances I can get with auxiliary fuel tanks mounted in the cabin.

900 miles to Japan, of which about 700 are over water. But yes, once I reach Japan, the over-water distances become much shorter. You should be able to go further in the turbine, as I gather it's fuel efficiency is better (at 22usg/hour/side, the regular Duke is somewhat of a gas guzzler! Ok, it's somewhat better at FL200, but that barely compensates for the fuel taken to get there...)

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  • 1 month later...

Leg 7: UHPP Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky/Yelizovo to RJCC Sapporo/New Chitose


Distance: 920nm (total distance: 3992nm)

Flight time: 5.3 hours (total time: 22.8 hours)

Fuel: 204 usg (total fuel: 999 usg)

These pictures have been sitting on my hard drive for the last six weeks, so it's about time I posted them!


I flew this at FL200, following the airways system, but there's no reason you couldn't fly lower, island hopping. There's no real benefit to doing that, other than having something to look at, since the islands are nothing more than rocky volcanic peaks; there's nowhere to put down if you get into trouble.


It's something like a three mile taxi from the apron to the holding point for runway 34!


Leaving Petropavlosk


The climb out is over rising ground. It may look like a gentle slope on the pic, bit there's a lot of it!


Approaching the coast at the bottom of the Kamchatka Peninsula


FL200, and nothing to see in any direction.


Arriving in Japan. Strong headwinds have meant we used more fuel than we'd hoped, but from this point on, there's pretty much always an airport within gliding range.


The rugged Japanese scenery


Descending into Sapporo


Short final


Time to sample the local brew...!


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  • 2 weeks later...

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