Monday, September 6, 2010

Flying to Egegik, Alaska

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 I flew our single engine Cherokee Warrior II to Egegik, Alaska (PAII). As the crow flies, Egegik is only about 60 miles Southeast of Dillingham. Circumstances suggested that I take a different route. After flying in the Alaskan Bush for five years I have found that single engine airplanes have several limitations that multi engine aircraft do not have. For more about Egegik,

First is flying over water. Between Dillingham and Egegik one has to fly over close to forty miles of water. If a single engine should fail during the water crossing the only option is to land on the water, and well, freeze to death. When flying to Egegik I always fly around the bay and cross at the mouth of the Kvichak (Kweechak) River. This adds an additional thirty miles to the route. The following shows my route up to the Kvichak then down to Egegik.

Second, although I am instrument rated and although our Cherokee Warrior II is instrument rated (IFR rated), I do not fly IFR unless I am in an emergency situation, i.e. the weather changes and I get stuck in the clouds. I also file for practice on nice days. If a multi-engine aircraft is above the clouds and one of its several engines fails, the pilot can normally remain airborne until a safe place can be found to land. On the other hand, if our Cherokee’s one and only engine fails while flying above the clouds, I would start an immediate descent and would blindly descent through clouds into, well, mountains, water, etc. Single engines aircraft can however, if the ground is visible at all times, seek out a smooth and hard enough surface to glide to and land safely if the engine fails.

Third, icing is a problem for the much smaller and slower single engine aircraft, compared to the multi-engine. Single engine aircraft fly slower and therefore pick up more ice faster. Milti-engine aircraft are normally climbing or descending at a faster speed and will pick up ice, but not as much. Many of the multi-engine planes have de-icing capability whereas the icing equipment on our single engine Warrior II is too heavy and not feasible.

Here are some early morning rain showers about 10 miles North of Egegik, Alaska.

While flying to Egegik, another hazard appeared. Thousands of migratory birds winged past the Cherokee while on final approach to runway 30. I was trying to shoot a video but my camera fell off the dashboard onto the floor. I was too occupied watching the birds and trying to land the aircraft to pick up the camera and restart the video.

To stay in practice in case I ever do get stuck in the clouds, I always fly a GPS approach into a new village I visit. The wind was favoring Runway 30. Final Approach into Egegik.

After staying clear of the flocks of birds and landing on Runway 30, I took off again and took a picture of Runway 12 from the Northeast (I was basically over the village of Egegik when I took the pictrue).

Eskimo word Egegik means "throat." Here is a picture of the village, which is located a mile north of the dirt landing strip. The "throat" is can be seen in this picture.

Before heading home to Dillingham, I took one more shot of the beautiful little village. The old airstrip use to be located right in the village but they re-built it and moved it a mile or so south.

I also took a short Vidoe of Egegik.

Fly safe out there


Christopher Hagen said...


I used to commercial fish in Egegik and as a Catholic, couldn't ever attend Mass. Is there ever a Catholic Mass celebrated in Egegik?

Anonymous said...

Hey Christopher, Yes, If there are Catholics there, and I know about them, I fly there for mass. Fr. Scott Garrett