Friday, January 15, 2010

Flying through the Mountain Pass from Dillingham to Togiak, Alaska

There is a mountain pass between Dillingham and Togiak

In my four years of flying in Bristol Bay, I have flown to Togiak eight times. I have never been able to memorize this mountain pass. The one time I did fly through the pass I followed Tucker Aviation (at a safe distance) in hopes of plotting crucial points on my GPS. I could not figure out how to save the waypoints on my Garmin 195

Tucker Aviation heads for the mountain pass a couple miles out of Dillingham.


Normally when flying to Togiak I wait for a clear day and climb to 4,500 feet and fly over the top of the Ahklun Mountains. The highest point in the range is 5,000 feet. Other times I follow the coast around and hope my brief cut through the mountains well not dead end into an impossible turn-around situation.

No more. I finally have the GPS coordinates through the mountain pass safely saved on my new Garmin 550 touch screen GPS.

I took my new Garmin 550 to Robert. Robert is a native Alaskan who grew up in Manokotak. He has the most seniority of any Penair pilot stationed in Dillingham and has flown over 20 years in this area.

Here is Robert after landing in King Salmon Sunday, January 10, 2010.


Robert plotted out the points on my GPS January 14th, 2010, on his daily run through the Togiak Pass. He marked seven waypoints from Dillingham to Togiak. These waypoints are invaluable to VFR pilots who fly regularly in this area.

Tucker Aviation approaches the first waypoint on the eastern side of the pass.

NKMOHILLs – 14.5 NM west of Dillingham
N 59°03.198’
W 158°58.458’


When the weather goes down, one can fly the pass at 500 feet if needed. There is only one point where the VFR pilot must climb to about 750 feet. Robert called that point Summit.

Since Robert was not use to the new touch screen 550 Garmin GPS, some of the letters in the names of the waypoints may be, well weird. For example NKMOHILLS might be NAMOHILLS. The type in alphabet on the touch screen takes some getting use to.

Each waypoint below is a major point on the way through the mountain pass from Dillingham to Togiak. The total trip is 60.9 miles.

PADL - Dillingham

NKMOHILLs – 14.5 Nautical Miles (NM) West from Dillingham, Alaska
N 59°03.198’
W 158°58.458’

NABALLMTN – 23.0 NM
N 59°02.061’
W 159°14.752’

SUMMIT - 27.4 NM
N 59°00.581’
W159°23.108’

ECHUTE – 33.7 NM
N 59°01.213’
W159°35.504’

WCHUTE – 39.1 NM
N 58°58.273’
W 159°45.412’

EHSHOE – 43.1 NM
N 58°57.401’
W 159°52.945’

HSHOE – 46.3 NM
N 58°59.095’
W 159°59.569’

PATG – Togiak

I had my GPS in simulator mode when I took these next pictures. I used a digital camera and took a picture of the GPS screen. The Terrain map in this Garmin 550 is very detailed when actually flying the route. I used the terrain map when flying through Lake Clark Pass last week. I hope to fly this Togiak mountain pass in the next few days. So, since Robert mapped it out, I have not flown it myself yet.



Here is the terrain map, which is very helpful when flying through mountains.


Fly safe out there!

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