Thursday, July 14, 2005

Day 5, The Flying

The plan was for an early morning departure out of Watson Lake. I was up at 4:45, ready to get going. It helped that it was already getting light outside. Just light enough that I could see that we weren't going anywhere anytime soon. There was an overcast layer not too high in the sky, and it looked certain to rain.

Between Watson Lake and Whitehorse are two mountain passes, one at 3300 MSL and the other at 2800 MSL. I want plenty of room between me and the Highway below, and me and the clouds above. Chill,baby, we're not leaving until later.

Around 10:00 or so, a Beech Skipper landed, having just come down from Whitehorse. They were trying to fly the airway direct, but couldn't maintain VFR and had to jump over and follow the Highway. They said that they flew it about 1500 to 2000 AGL. That's awfully close if you ask me, at least as a low, low-time mountain flyer. (Does one day of mountain flying even qualify me forthat label???)

Anyway, within about 30 minutes, things looked much more promising. Another 172 had landed just after the Skipper, with a couple that had just flown in from Ft. Simpson. Pat and Shelly in C-FAOB. They were ready to go around 10:40; believing that there is safety in numbers, I prevailed on them to monitor 123.45, the air-to-air frequency in Canada, and give us some updates. They accommodated us, so I filed a flight plan and we chased after them by about 5 minutes.

Here's the conditions in which we were flying:

The first pass, Pine Lake, is about 40 miles out from Watson Lake. As I said, it's at 3300 MSL and you can clearly see the Highway rise up to the floor of the pass, though this photo may not provide enough perspective:

Just southeast of Teslin Lake are Dawson Peaks:

Second pass of the day Summit Lake:

This may be a better view of it:

After a mere 2.2 hours, which seemed a bit longer given the weather, we were within sight of Whitehorse International. Here we are getting set up for the downwind leg:

Yet another greaser landing for the IFR Pilot. But, hey, who's counting???

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