Friday, February 12, 2010

Flying to Levelock, Alaska: Bristol Bay

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

February 11, 2010, I flew to Levelock, Alaska. The airport identifier for Levelock is 9Z8. This small village is nestled right next to the Kvichak (Kweejack) River. The river runs between Bristol Bay and Lake Illiamna. Levelock is located about 10 miles north of where the Kvichak River feeds into Bristol Bay. The population of Levelock is about 50 year around residents. Please
CLICK HERE for more information about Levelock.

Levelock is located 42 miles to the east of Dillingham. The route is basically at sea level across tundra, lakes, and rivers. The highest spot is about 500 feet, which is a few miles northwest of Levelock near New Stuyahok.

Last year in a snow storm, one new pilot flew into what we call the "milk bottle" and crashed into the ground at five hundred feet near this area. The "milk bottle" is when the ground is white, the sky is white, and well, everything looks white. He the grace of God. It is tricky flying out here.

One of the lessons a bush pilot learns about gravel runways is how well they hold up when the snow and ice starts to melt. Some runways get muddier than others, for example, the Portage Creek runway gets muddy in the spring. Some runways stay firm even in the spring. Levelock is a runway that seems to be built on good soil. I have never landed on it when it was soft, even during spring thaw, but don’t take the chance. Always try to get a runway condition report.

Approaching Levelock from the west is Runway 01/19.

The below picture was taken while turning final to runway 01 in Levelock, Alaska.

Here is a picture of the Warrior II parked at the Levelock Airport. This picture was actually taken a couple months ago.

After departing runway 01 in Levelock, here is a picture looking back to the east toward King Salmon, Alaska. King Salmon is about 20 miles southeast from Levelock.

If you were on a right base landing on runway 19 in Levelock, this is what you would see.

Here is a picture of Levelock, Alaska, which is about two miles from the airport.

Fly safe out there.

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