Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flying our Warrior II to Igiugig, Alaska

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor of Holy Rosary Mission

Igiugig, Alaska

Yesterday, Tuesday, February 23, 2010, I flew to Igiugig, It was a fairly good day for flying. Bristol Bay was in the middle of two systems, a low pressure moving out and a high pressure moving in. Although a little windy, the visibility was stellar. Anything over five miles visibility in Bristol Bay is considered a great day.

Igiugig (airport identifier is PAIG) is one of those tough words to pronounce. It is something like “igeeawgig.” When I first came to Bristol Bay in August of 2005, I would always mix up Egegik and Igiugig because they sounded similar.

The runway at the small Alaskan village of Igiugig is 05/23 and is a gravel strip 3000 feet long by 75 feet wide. The FAA recently changed the frequency for air to air communications from frequency 122.8 to the more commonly used 122.9. This is what my GPS looked like while flying toward Igiugig from Dillingham

Igiugig is 82 miles Northeast of Dillingham. To get there directly I flew over Portage Creek, located on the Nushagak River and Levelock, located on the Kyichak River. Igiugig is located right on the South end of Lake Illiamna at the mouth of the Kyichak River. The Kyichak flows into Bristol Bay.

I practiced the GPS approach for runway 05, as opposed to the approach to runway 23 which takes you out across Lake Illiamna. From the South I flew to the Southeast of Igiugig to a waypoint named FABMU, then turned back to the west and followed the GPS to a waypoint called HABIB. At HABIB I turned to 050 and lined directly up with the runway. Here is a picture just before I turned at HABIB.

The late Father Jim Kelly, who died in a plane crash near Manokotak in 2002, always told the story about flying to Igiugig one time to have mass for Dan Salmon (mayor of Igiugig) and his family. He had called Dan the day before from Dillingham to alert him of his arrival. A few miles out of Igiugig Father Kelly saw Dan taking off in his airplane. Father Kelly got on the radio and ordered him back to the village for Mass. Dan reluctantly turned around and landed. Father Kelly landed a few minutes later. Many of Father Kelly’s friends still tell me the story.

A couple years ago (2008) Dan Salmon also died in an airplane crash near Big River Lakes. Big River Lakes is near the entrance to Lake Clark Pass. Dan was flying from Anchorage with supplies to his home in Igiugig. People from all over the area came to his funeral. It was a tragic accident and nobody really knows why his plane went down.

Final approach to runway 05 in Igiugig, Alaska will look something like this:

Here is a picture after I departed runway 05, looking back at runway 23.

Here is a picture from the Northwest. It shows the Kyichak River and the beautiful little village.

Heading back to Dillingham I took a picture from the Southwest of Igiugig.

From the south, the Kyichak Rivers leads up to Igiugig.

Safe flying out there!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

ah, father kelly..

he was pawned off on us from pen air king salmon.... he would ask to schedule an "oil change".... an hour job... but when he dropped the plane off he would pull his little not book out of his pocket with the 17 other little squaks he would like fixed while we had the plane in the hanger...(also why he got run out of pen air...)

nice guy....