Discovering Alaska Volume 2: ERH 800/801 – ANC to VDZ and Back
Welcome to the second part of our little tour through Alaska. Today we are flying from Anchorage to Valdez and back, again a nice short hop. Valdez is a very important city for Alaska – oil from the Trans-Alaskan pipeline is loaded onto oil Tankers in the port of Valdez. It is also called the Switzerland of Alaska because of all the glaciers in the area. Again we will be flying with Era Alaska on their Beechcraft 1900D. Our F/O today will be Ariel Tweto, known from the TV show Flying Wild Alaska. She knows the territory very well and we will be very glad that she is on the flight deck with us, because the weather is as worse as it gets.
The routing will take us on an eastbound heading towards Johnstone VOR. Before we reach this VOR, we will turn North to approach Port Valdez. The only runway to land on is 06. Shortly after the threshold, high mountains block the flightpath, so we better not make any mistakes here! We will be approching according to the only procedure available, the DME approach for 06. This will take us through the fjord, with the mountains very close to our left.
Now let’s get started. It’s still dark outside as we enter N972EA. It’s changing between rain and snow the whole time and the visibility is only 4 nm. In this weather I would actually prefer to fly the bird parked a little behind our B1900.
The weather in Valdez is not very good either. We are already on final after an uneventful descend. The visibility is not very good, clouds everywhere. This is a challenging approach with no ILS/LOC and the mountains around us.
Ariel insured as that she knows what she’s doing and we could take off. I trusted her and we started to get going to runway 24. You can’t take off on 06, unless you want your flight to end seconds after take off in a big fireball in the mountains.
Thanks for reading. The management of Era was not as happy about our take off in Valdez in such bad conditions as we were. We couldn’t let the girl take all the blame and so we took responsibilty. They wouldn’t let us fly on Era for some time though. Therefore our next flight will be on Alaska Airlines with B737. First leg will be to Fairbanks, then on to Deadhorse and back to Anchorage. Stay tuned!