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We awoke to more cloudy skies this morning. We flew from Saskatoon to Winnipeg under MVFR conditions which prevented us from climbing to MEA altitude. We would fly the airways as long as we had nav radio reception and then resort to the time-honored technique of pilotage until we were able to pick up the "to" VOR signal. It got us there.
Winnipeg itself was clear, so we refueled and called customs to arrange a meeting in Warroad. I set up an r-nav waypoint to take us directly into Warroad, and when we landed the customs official was waiting for us.
Another check of the weather revealed the Twin Cities area was under solid IFR conditions, starting at about Bemidji. We took off under VFR condition but air-filed an IFR flight plan as soon as we could reach Princeton radio.
Minneapolis Center was ready for us before we reached the Bemidji VOR, and we flew the remainder of the way to Minneapolis on the gauges. We used the VOR 8 approach into Anoka, landing in light rain and a heavy overcast.
In looking back, I think all of us considered the trip to be a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience. Alaska takes a different type of flying, and you have to respect the immensity and emptiness of the land. There is not a whole lot of instrument flying, and generally speaking nav aids are few and far between. You really do learn to respect the mountains and the distances between things. It is an empty land, and the wisdom of the rifle on board and the survival gear becomes very clear when you fly it. In flying Alaska and western Canada, you most often do follow the highways. And you will find your pilotage skills, perhaps rusty in this day of instrument flying, get a good workout. You learn to check the weather constantly, getting updates whenever possible. In particular, the mountain passes can shut down with incredible speed, trapping the unwary pilot. All I can say, in summation, is that given the chance, I'll fly it again.
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Copyright © 2003 Linda Dowdy, last revision 030212