June 26 Sitka,
Alaska to Seattle, Washington
743 nautical miles.
awoke to find Sitka just as beautiful a place as it had promised to be on our
approach to the airport the previous evening. Sitka is a small town that swells
with a surge of tourists to over 6000 people in the peak of summer. This is summer
season and we were lucky to find rooms at a local hotel. Sitka airport is situated
between Kruzof and Baranof Islands and connected to Baranof by bridge. Surrounded
by spectacular mountains, the runway itself is closely watched over by Mount Edgecombe
at 4000 feet. The weather here is very most like home at the forecast showed low
level cloud and heavy rain.
filing a plan with Flight Service and receiving a route weather briefing we headed
to re fuel and check the aircraft out in the rain. Another interesting visitor
to Sitka airport was an Australian Dash 8 (VH-LCL). Paul made a visit to introduce
himself and enquire what they where up in this part of the world. Turns out the
crew are from Adelaide and are doing Geo surveys. Good to hear another Aussie
accent again. After start up, clearance was delayed due to a misunderstanding
as to the exact airport we would arrive into in Seattle. Another plan would have
to be filed and a delay of at least 40 minutes would follow. Shut down was required.
While we were waiting two US coast guard F18s arrived over the field. We were
not the only ones to be surprised by their arrival as the tower had no knowledge
of the arrival either. 'Rider one' called the tower requesting a visual circuit
to land runway 11. The tower asked their estimated time of arrival at the field,
the response was "under one minute". Two F18s landed in tight formation. We would
hold to let them taxi past before proceeding to runway 11. The presence of two
fighter jets so close to our aircraft provided a good opportunity for a good photograph.
It made for an even better shot when we could see the F18 navigator taking a photo
of us as he taxied by.
was some 5 minutes later with an immediate right turn required to avoid mount
Edgecombe. Climbing to 7000 feet we picked up some light icing passing 6000 but
broke clear of cloud and settled in for a five-hour flight. 9000 was later required
to stay on top of rising cloud. Breaking cloud revealed some amazing scenery below.
Rugged coastline off to the starboard side mixed with high mountains covered with
lush green forest rising to snow covered peaks and frozen lakes. Traveling southeast
would bring us west of British Columbia and Prince of Wales Island, entering Canadian
airspace north of Prince Rupert. Following traffic, a Cessna 210 meant we would
have to climb to 11000 to maintain separation. This was welcomed on arriving at
the altitude as we were greeted by 40-knot tailwinds giving us a ground speed
of 180k at times. We would pass over the beautiful Canadian city of Victoria before
starting our descent into Seattle, which was just before sunset. We were bound
for Boeing Field. Radar vectors brought us north of the city for a landing on
runway 31L. This allowed a free aerial tour of the city completed with a view
of the Seattle Space needle. Boeing Field is the home to Boeing and it was great
to see so many aircraft lined up ready to be collected by their new owners. A
tour of the plant is planned during our stay.
Walsh has been living in Seattle for 10 years and contacted us a few months back
when he heard our flight in the media. He invited us to spend a few days here
with him. Having an Irish night in Seattle this Friday 27th with Wayne and friends.
Thanks to Wayne and Eddie for looking after our stay in Seattle.