Friday, January 14, 2011

Good News: I Found Goodnews Bay

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor, Holy Rosary Catholic Mission Alaska

Flying our Cherokee Warrior II at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011 was a flight of firsts. Two new experiences were in store for me, a pastor of six years and a pilot of about 635 hours: (1) I tried out a new hat with a built in light and the best news of all, (2) I found Goodnews Bay, Alaska (

Here is a picture of Goodnews Bay I took from our Cherokee Warrior II while looking Northeast. Goodnews Bay is 95 air miles West of Dillingham.

Before flying to Goodnews Bay I had to perform an aircraft preflight inspection, In the winter in Alaska that usually happens in the dark. Taxiing out to the ramp, doing a run-up, and perusing through the check list also happens in the dark. Flashlights are a must, unless someone makes you a cap with a built-in light. That is what Linda, at L&B Monograms Plus did for me. I was trying it out for the first time.

I ordered some caps with the Holy Rosary Mission logo and Linda tossed in this ultra bright L.E.D. technology lighted hat. Although I did not get a chance to use it on my preflight inspection that morning (I had to put on a stocking hat to keep my ears warm) I used it in the cockpit during my run-up. As I was going through the checklist it worked FANTASTIC. As I am flying between Dillingham and Goodnews Bay, I talked about this useful cap.

To watch this video you can also

If you would like one of these hats, contact Linda, at L&B Monograms, 509 Hamlet Avenue, Carolina Beach, NC 28428. This technology is definitely helpful to Bush Pilots in Alaska.

Carolina Beach Today also wrote an excellent article on the lighted caps. Please CLICK HERE.

Preparing to fly into an Alaskan village for the first time, in the dead of winter, takes preparation. First I take out the FAA Approach Plates to see if the village has a GPS approach, Goodnews Bay did not have one. Second, I pour over the maps to get a feel for the terrain and mountain heights in the area. Third, the airport identifier (GNU for Goodnews) gets punched into my Garmin 550 GPS and my in-dash Garmin 155XL. Finally, I wait for a good clear day, preferably with the winds not gusting over 30 MPH.

The following picture shows what I was seeing twenty miles out from Goodnews Bay. I had no Idea where the snow covered runway was, only that I was generally heading in the right direction. I was flying almost due West from Dillingham.

The hills around me were only about 1000 feet high so once my GPS told me I was lined up with the runway I dropped down to 800 feet. As I was trying to find Goodnews Bay, I took a video:

To watch this video you can also

What a beautiful little village. I couldn’t help but take a couple pictures of the houses and buildings painted in bright pastel colors. If you look close, you can just see the runway on the right.

After buzzing the village I climbed up to 6,000 feet, turned East, and flew the 95 air miles back to Dillingham. Another great Alaskan Adventure.

Fly safe out there!

No comments: