Monday, May 16, 2011

Fr. Scott: First Beach Landing in Alaska

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor of Holy Rosary Mission Alaska

It takes guts to land on an Alaskan beach. I talk about it on the following video.

By 9:00 AM Friday the 13th, 2011, I took off in my Cherokee Warrior II to try my first Beach Landing. My plan was to meet John Bouker of Bristol Bay air at Protection Point, about 34 miles south of Dillingham, Alaska. John was transporting one of my parishioners, Bernina Venua, and several of her friends, to this remote beach. Bernina wanted an Alaskan adventure, which included taking pictures of the several varieties of birds.

While looking for a place to land on the beach I shot a video while flying at 300 feet. CLICK HERE.

Here is John Bouker taxiing out to the Dillingham runway to fly Bernina and her friends out to Protection Point.

After circling the beach for about ten minutes, I realized the tide was too high to see the beach. I returned to Dillingham and talked with John. He informed me that, "The tide would not be low enough to land until 2:30 PM."

I fired my plane back up at 2:30 and was about ten miles behind John Bouker. Since I had never landed on a beach before I wanted to watch where John landed first and then get a report. I watched him land and when he took off again I called him up on 122.9. We talked a couple minutes then I decided to try to land.

Here is what the Protection Point beach looked like from about 1000 feet.

Besides making sure the tide is low, instead of high before landing, John gave me some very helpful beach landing tips.

1. Don't land on what looks like dry beach, it is soft and one might get bogged down. Try to land on the wet surface because it is packed down more.

2. After landing, do not taxi around. Stop where you are, let people out, etc., get back into the plane, and take off. Taxiing around will increase the risk of getting bogged down and really stuck.
3. Be sure the wind is right. Beach landings are very tricky. Most of the beaches are slanted and have an uphill or downhill grade.

4. Weight and tires are important as well. John had larger tires but a lot of weight. I did not have much weight, but very small tires.

With all of this information swirling around in my head, I decided to do a touch and go. Here is the video.

For Video on Beach Tips CLICK HERE.

For the video of landing on the beach you can also CLICK HERE.

I was very happy and excited when it was all done. I have been wanting to try a beach landing since I have been flying out here (six years). I finally got up enough confidence after close to 700 hours of flying to give it a shot. It was absolutely exhilarating.

I had several more videos but out here in the Alaska Bush, using the Satellite, it took me four attempts and two days to finally load the above two and one half minute video.

Fly safe out there...Fr. Scott

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