Monkey made it to Alaska!

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by kath, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. kath

    kath Cleared for Takeoff

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    Hey Monkey fans,

    The Monkey made it to Alaska. The Last Frontier. The Great Land. The Upper One.

    I have done what I promised to do, and it's time to pass him along to someone else! Perhaps now one of my fellow Alaskans wants to take him around the state... maybe @Stewartb could show him some real Alaska bush strips, or @AKBill the stunning fjords of Southeast?

    But of course, eventually, he's going to have to get back to the Lower 48. Now, I know he's traveled by airliner in the past, and could do so again. But come on. Are we not pilots? Are we not women and men of action? How many times have the words "I've always wanted to fly all the way to Alaska" escaped your lips, or something simian similar? Do you need an excuse? Challenge issued, ya scurvey Lower48lubbers!

    Enough monkeying around. Go get your third class and your RR operator's license and your US customs sticker and all that other Canadian stuff. Get a Pink Book and put on your tundra tires.

    * Disclaimer: Yes, the Canada border is still currently closed to non-essential travel. And Alaska has its own COVID rules for new arrivals; I have just begun my 14-day quarantine, and the rules are about to tighten even more. But you can start planning for *next* summer, right? You're going to want to carve out some serious time for this trip, after all...

    Come.
    And.
    Git.
    'Im.


    I'll need a little while to get Monkey's logbook in order. There's a lot to compile and record. Since the last report, I've came through Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and of course Canada. Monkey even got to meet some illustrious POA'ers, including @flyingcheesehead and the amazing @bbchien!

    I've got lots more pictures to upload, I just have to find them. But here's just one... I got home on a very hazy day:
    DSC01578_small.jpeg

    Full blog on all my travels: beetlejuiceadventure.wordpress.com
     
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  2. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Congrats on an incredible and inspiring trip Kath! Maybe Leslie and I will make it up there to see you again sometime.
     
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  3. kath

    kath Cleared for Takeoff

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    Map of the whole trip:

    Monkey rode along for basically the second half of it (from Dallas -> the south and Florida -> West Virginia -> light blue line to Upstate NY -> down to KY -> back to WI -> Great Plains to Montana -> Canada -> Home)

    tripmap_final_small.png
     
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  4. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Congrats on making it back @kath monkey!
     
  5. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    that's some trip!
     
  6. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    You’re like the Jane Goodall of aviation. Wow, what a trip for the ape.
     
  7. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    How did the Canada crossing go for you? I’ve been wanting to fly to Alaska to escape my own little quarantine hell (I don’t have the virus, I just don’t go out much) but would need to stop for fuel, which also means customs and possibly some coronavirus awkwardness.
     
  8. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    I frequently am in Anchorage/Seattle from Juneau in a "small" airplane (king-air) - it wouldn't be any trouble to snag him in ANC when he is done there and bring him to southeast or back to the Lower 48.
     
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  9. kath

    kath Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yes, the crossing, and your entire trip through Canada, are tightly monitored. They will let you through if you are transiting to or from Alaska for work, or for school, or to return home. Whether your travel qualifies as "essential" is basically up to the customs agent who meets you at the airport, so come prepared with documentation of whatever the essentialness is: the work, or the school, or (as in my case) an Alaska permanent address.

    Once in, they do NOT want you doing anything other than travel through. No going into town, no visiting national parks, no recreation, no meeting Canadian friends. Just stay with your aircraft, and stay masked. The agent asked me if I knew my route, and when I said yes, he asked me to recite the whole thing and he wrote it all down. He wanted to know how many miles I expected to cover per day, and whether I had enough food for the trip, etc.

    About 2 days into the trip, someone from the Canadian government called me on my cell phone to get an update on my progress. I was having mechanical issues in the middle of Alberta at that time, and was running about a day behind schedule. "Have you come into contact with any Canadians?" she asked me. "Well, there's a mechanic looking at my airplane right now..." Again, she wanted an estimate of when I'd be leaving the country, and what I was doing for food. I explained that I couldn't be sure until the airplane was fixed, but gave her my best guess, and explained that I had about six days' worth of ramen noodles and other snacks in cargo.

    Yukon Territory has its own special territorial COVID rules which are even stricter; they will turn away Canadians from some other provinces. Drivers who are following the highway to or from Alaska are expected to transit the territory in 24 hours, basically to not stop except for sleep or gas. Before heading for Watson Lake YT, I called Flight Service (Edmonton FIC) about this, whether it also applies to aviators (who might face bad weather in 24 hours!), and they didn't know, but referred me to the local Whitehorse Flight Service office, who told me that you *must* file a flight plan, and that they receive all flight plans for aircraft entering the territory, and that a Yukon government official will meet you at the airport to "explain the rules". However, when I actually arrived at Watson Lake, no one met me... nor in Whitehorse. All my flight plans just got opened and closed as normal, as far as I could tell.

    Airport facilities (like pilots' lounges) in Alberta and BC were generally open, but in Watson Lake and Whitehorse (both Yukon) they were not; there was no place to check the weather, or file eAPIS, or pee. So plan accordingly!

    As it turns out, I did face bad weather in Whitehorse, and had to spend the night there. Normally I'd just pitch my tent and camp, but Whitehorse is a big airport with high security. Ran into a local at the airport who told me that the ONLY hotels that are "approved" for transiting foreigners are the two across the street from the airport, so I went to one of them. Was not permitted in the hotel restaurant; room-service only. Heading towards and through Yukon, looking down at the highway while flying, it was nearly empty of cars. Very eerie.

    The day after I got back home, there was an article in my local paper about how the rules for transiting drivers in Canada are about to tighten, "due to too many Americans misbehaving". For instance, claiming they're going to Alaska, but then going vacationing in Banff. The Edmonton FIC briefer told me that he was recently asked to help track down a pilot in NWT who was "doing things he shouldn't be doing."

    ...so the rules are still changing, and finding information relevant to pilots in particular is difficult. (For instance, some Airports of Entry have been closed, while others are still open, others open only on weekdays, etc.) The best thing is to ask a human on the phone, such as from Canadian Border Services at 1-800-461-9999. Once in the country, stick to your plan and keep yer nose clean.

    To be clear, I never felt harassed in any way -- quite the reverse, just as at most airports anywhere, local people are aware of the rules, and seeing that I had an "N" number on my plane went out of their way to check in on me and make sure I was OK ("got tiedowns? got food? need anything from town?"). Despite the COVID-induced strangeness, still a very positive experience.

    I made it through the country in 6 days, which ain't too shabby considering I ran into both MX and WX.


    Edit: Oh, and one more thing... Starting August 11th, Alaska is going to start requiring COVID tests *before* arrival. (Today, you can show up without one and simply quarantine for 14 days, which is what I'm doing.). But again, the rules are being written for airline visitors and highway drivers, and how they will apply to GA aviators is not yet clear.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
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  10. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So the monkey never got even a little frisky with ya?
     
  11. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    The Knik Valley awaits. As the Big Su drops it has lots of opportunities for fun as well. Knik is gravel so braking is okay, as long as you don’t lock the tires and toss gravel. The Su is silt, so stay off the brakes. Let me know if you need a wing man. I’m still learning the Cub so need the hours!
     
  12. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Thanks for sharing your adventure @kath. Your route through Canada looks a lot like the route's I took the 2 times I flew to the lower 48.

    Work has me strapped lately, 3 to 4 weeks living in camp, quarantine for a and week getting tested for C-19 a few days before returning for my shift.

    My new schedule is a PITA, not being able to fly for 3 to 4 weeks at a time is the worst part . Sounds like @DavidWhite might be the best way to get the Monkey back to the lower 48 anytime soon.

    Thanks again for sharing your story
     
  13. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    This is a new thread. Hows about the links to the others so new folk can get the whole sordid history of The Monkey. There were two pretty long ones, the original and the post Oshkosh one. @eman1200 , do you have them handy? @Sac Arrow ??
     
  14. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    eh there are so many threads, I don't have a list of them all. could prob did up a few if needed.