An Airplane Trip from Texas to Alaska

by Benjamin Trimble, ATP, CFII

During June of 1999, my wife Joanne and I flew from Austin, Texas to Alaska and back in our Mooney Executive 21 aircraft, a trip of over 9000 miles of scenic flying.

On the way to Alaska, we passed near Mt. St Helens in Washington State, scene of the violent eruption of some years ago. We were also able to sample the giant pacific oyster which Ben relishes so much. Continuing into the Alaska panhandle, we encountered incessant rainy weather, so instrument flight plans were the order of the day. After stops in Sitka and Yakutat, we continued on to Kodiak, the home of the largest of the Big Brown Bears (males go up to 1800 pounds max).

In Anchorage, we rented a car and drove the Denali highway, where we had incredible views of Mt. McKinley, as well as wildlife galore, including a young reindeer trying to outrun the car. We continued on to the picturesque fishing town of Homer. Here, shops line the 5-mile long spit which extends out into Kachemak Bay. Returning to Anchorage, we had the opportunity to camp along the Russian River, one of the best fishing spots in Alaska.

Next, we flew from Anchorage to the old gold mining town of Nome, finishing point for the Iditarod sled dog race. On main street, the Nugget Inn provided signs to orient the traveler: Moscow 4400 miles, Dallas 4600 miles. Continuing west, we crossed 100 miles of the Bering Sea to land in Gambell, St. Lawrence, Alaska which is only 48 miles from the closest point of Russia. The eskimo community of Gambell has a "subsistence lifestyle" which is heavily dependent on hunting.

On the trip from Gambell back to Anchorage, we saw Mt. McKinley clearly on the horizon. Then, we again made our way south through the Alaska panhandle and the old Russian capital of Sitka. The harbor area of Sitka provides a picturesque backdrop to this quaint town.

As a bonus, after visiting friends and relatives in the northwest, we stopped in Yellowstone National Park. Here we renewed our memories of geysers and wildlife, including the grand canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, and the Grand Tetons.

For a picture version of the trip taken using a Kodak digital camera, click here

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