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Leg 23 Dutch Harbor to Cold Bay

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Waiting for Jesse to bring the Baton in was nerve wrecking. Not only because of the plane she would be bringing in - I notified the emergency services to sober up and be ready - but also because of the unpredictable weather.

Jesse had a fine trip, but weather changes quickly in Alaska and I sure had hoped she would be here a day earlier.

Flying the ATWC invariable means pressure to get the job done on time. We have to get The Baton to the next leg before the deadline.

While that is not much different than everyday airline business we do take some risks that would be frown upon during regular pax trips.

The next trip should not have happened the way it did and it's down to my competitive nature concerning the ATWC it did happen. Luckily I am able to write the report and the FAA let me keep my ATPL so all is well.


I had decided to take the DC-6 for the trip since I needed to drop some cargo at Cold Bay but looking out of the window I wondered if I made the right decision.

Looking out of the same window Sharon did not have any of those doubts. "You expect me to go flying with you in this weather?! Are you insane!" And off she went fraternizing with the famous fisherman from the Discovery Channel.

They were smart and were not going anywhere that day.

It should have been a warning for me, but then again: you have stubborn - and then you have me!


The trip started a day later than planned because the weather on the scheduled date read visibility at Cold Bay was down to 1 nm with a ceiling of 700 ft. Now there is no way that you can get a DC-6 to land under those conditions. It is an IFR/ILS capable plane but it is not like a modern airliner with computer wizardry taking you all the way to the runway.

The next day the weather prediction for Unalaska / Dutch Harbor was pretty bad with visibility down to 2 nm with snow and winds gusting 28 knots. But I can take a Six out of a tight spot in any weather, it is the landing that makes it interesting.

Anyway take off was interesting because taking of from runway 30 in a big beast with severely limited visibility means: climb as fast as you can to clear the mountains since you will not be able to build enough airspeed to maneuver the plane in a tight turn.


Although I know the plane can do it, I always have the knawing feeling at the back of my mind that maybe this time she won't. I have those goose bumps every time I do this take of in pretty much white out conditions.


But we made it and we settled in for the trip to Cold Bay.

The weather was still appalling, but that was as expected since it would only clear halfway through the journey.


And it did. So I slumped in my seat, happy as can be in the knowledge that weather predictions were right and I would have a clear view of the strip at Cold Bay coming in to land.



And then everything changed.


Visibility dropped to nearly zero, just when it was time to descend for the ILS approach to runway 15. I made the descend and approach virtually blindfolded.


I became aware that I was on the glide slope but too much to port side by far.


Faced with the choice of going around and do the same approach again, or calling it quits and head back to Dutch Harbor I naturally choose the third thing - sling the bird around and crab the approach.


It was a real stupid thing to do, but I dreaded doing the approach again and not delivering the cargo for two days running ... out of the question.


So the baton is at Cold Bay waiting for Mikael and Sharon is without a doubt glad that she missed this trip!


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Great pics of a great flight, Kasper,

I'm impressed you got around to line up on that runway. That must have been a steep turn. Alaska is a tough place to fly.



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Great flight Kasper, just wish I could say that about the weather...

Was it hard to pry your hands from the yoke after that take-off??

I guess it's decision time for me now.. risk a 300 nm flight over water in a single engine prop or take the long way around.. I know what I should do, but it will double the distance of the flight :stars:

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Trust me, that weather isn't the least bit funny.. and I can confirm that it's still the same if not worse.

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Thanks for the nice comments, it was a fun flight to do :cool:

@Mikael, because I only saw the mountain at the last second (just as I took the screenshot) take off was business as usual. I had to haul on the yoke just a bit to get her over the rim however. It was an exciting departure!

As a regular Alaska virtual pilot I can confirm the weather is still bad. I tried to do a flight from PANC yesterday but weather was so bad that I just went to the airfield did a quick check on the plane and went back to the hotel!

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