Again, going through posts I've saved.
I lived in Dillingham for three summers and two winters.
Senator Stevens and his flight were going from 5th lake to 2nd lake, as they are called locally. The media reported that Agulowak Lodge was on Lake Aleknagik. Itís not Lake Aleknagik, the first lake on the Wood River, the Agulowak River connects first lake and second lake, and the lodge is at the mouth of second lake.
The flight he was on, from 5th lake to 2nd, is like going to the local grocery store, itís done many times every day. The pilot on the flight was 62, I assume a corporate pilot, and because he was flying into Nerka, 5th lake, heíd been there before. The terrible weather the media cites is a misnomer. Everyday is a crappy day in Dillingham, if you wait for the weather to break youíll be an old man.
There was one 70 degree sunny day when I lived there and we just shut it down and tried to get a tan on the roof, point is, there are very few sunny days in the summer.
There are many in the winter, and itís absolutely gorgeous. The snow across the tundra is the end of the world looking north. West is always the dirty silty sea, even the ice on the shore has silt in it, but the horizontal snow off the bay is unequaled.
Getting back to the flight, Visual flight rules, VFR, always apply there. Contrary to media reports, Dillingham, nor the lakes are remote by Alaska standards. At this time of year flights have died down a bit from 3 to 4 flights a day to 2 or 3 commercial flights. When I lived there during this time of year there were at least
3 737s , 4 DC6s, plus two 12 seat turbo props flying in every day. Millions of pounds of Bristol Bay Salmon are flown out of Dillingham every year. The area may be remote by human density, but not by planes.
At the end of Kanakanak beach there is a FAA homing beacon one mile from the runway. A 500 foot deck is considered low limit for landing, the commercial DC6s never stop during season. The commercial flights donít tend to discriminate either. This time of year, you fly, lose money or die.
So, getting back to the Senatorís flight, going to the grocery store to catch silvers, because up on 5th lake itís all controlled catch and release rainbows the size of your arm 8 inches around, which is why there are at least two
Gulf Streams on the tarmac every Saturday. Few can navigate the river by boat, and Iíve heard that if you could lasso the rocks you could water ski all day on the current.
So, running this through my meager mind, elevation at 5th lake is 215, first lake is maybe 35, Agulowak lodge probably 55. Donít know protocol, but coming down river is just that, you follow the rivers. 500 feet max, you really donít give a shit about the clouds, youíre below them, You can see every cloud coming towards you , if it looks nasty you pop up and fly around it. Yes itís mountainous, but 2000 tops. Curiously, I was looking for Topo maps for this report and could find nothing.
So, that leaves interference. A reset altimeter? Another plane playing chicken? A clogged fuel line? That is the only scenario for deviance I could come up with. Maybe a bad control, airelon, not really, thereís a reason theyíve been flying Otters and Beavers this long, they donít fail. A shift in the baggage hitting the controls? Not probable, again, thousands of flying hours. Just doesnít happen.
Without a map of the specific site of the wreckage it would be difficult to speculate further, even if he tried to shoot a pass and lost, itís still not likely, thereís water everywhere along his route. Heís flying a float plane for crying out loud. The mountains are not higher than 2000 feet.
I saw some footage on the news and it showed the plane on the side of a hill, they skimmed the trees, they did not auger in, the pilot saved those on board. He was headed for a hidey hole in the pass and lost.
The pilot who spotted the plane and rescuers were local, 100 percent, guaranteed.
May the Gods smile upon ye as you traverse your way.