Towards Cordova and Into Trouble

Posted by best adult dating websites for blacks on Jun 22, 2013 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Towards Cordova and Into Trouble


We departed Skagway down the Lynn Canal, on our way to the Pacific coast, under clear, beautiful skies that gave us incredible views of the coastal mountains. First stop, Gustavus where we meet a friendly young woman who offers us the use of her truck to drive out a few miles to the site where a Pennsylvania Air National Guard DC-3 crashed on takeoff back in 1957. We walk into the rainforest across spongy vegetation to the scattered wreckage. Photos get taken, we explore a bit and drive to the Clove Hitch cafe for a lunch of halibut nuggets and wonderful visiting with Mariah and her mom. Mariah was delightful and entertaining as we sit in the sun outside for an hour before heading back to the airport.

We takeoff for a fuel stop in Yakutat where we visit the Yakutat Lodge briefly before heading out to the Pacific ocean beach. Our plan is to land at a derelict barge buried in the sand. On the way, we cross huge glacial valleys emptying into tourquois lakes which run to the ocean carrying loads of silt along. Dropping to 50 feet above the beach, we fly for miles shooting video of each other’s airplanes, scaring shorebirds and dodging several hundred bald eagles who are resting on the shore. The weather remains good, although there is a developing marine layer not far offshore.

As we approach the barge, we circle and land close to the surf line where the sand is firmest. All down safely, we spend nearly an hour exploring and taking photos. Suddenly, we realize the incoming tide has begun to put Mike’s airplane in danger of submerging. That’s when things get interesting.

My airplane is also vulnerable due to the smaller 26″ tires. I need the relatively firm sand for takeoff and landing, the same sand that is quickly disappearing under the incoming tide. We all run to the airplanes, crank up and prepare to depart. I am in front of the line with Dawson next, so we lift up out of danger and turn back over the barge. Mike’s airplane with the small tires, is firmly stuck, wheels now awash in seawater, in imminent danger of being trapped by the tide. Lou and Mike desperately grab lengths of driftwood, shoving them beneath the wheels for purchase. Lou calls us back, needing more people to assist in the rescue. As Dawson turns, we hear “hey guys, there’s a bear and he is heading for the barge.” I ask Dawson to fly down and try to run the bear away. He makes a couple of low passes and appears to have the bear convinced to go home. I line up to land on the firmest remaining area, trying to get down in time to help Mike and Lou. Because the firm sand is now all underwater, I try to be as close to the tide line as possible. As the wheels touch, the airplane decelerates rapidlyd and I am almost sure that I will be stuck when I stop. Lou has thrown on a headset and urges me not to stop, so I quickly add power and takeoff again and climb back to safety. As I turn, Lou suggests that I fly back to a remote strip to seek help. I check the bear, who has stopped as if considering his next move. One more low pass and he accelerates through the shallow lake headed away from the beach. Meanwhile Dawson is able to land and help get Mike unstuck. Finally, I hear Mike on the radio, then Lou. After a very close call, all of us are safely off the beach and headed for Cordova.

The weather is questionable with the ceiling low and mostly solid. We stay high for a bit before descending underneath for the forty minute flight. With the daylight dimming, the clouds and visibility uncertain, we press on until we enter the narrow pass that leads to the gravel runway. Finally,after way too much excitement, we land, taxi in and shut down at around 11 PM. Fortunately we call a cab driver who reluctantly comes out and takes us to a hotel in town. We check in, walk down to the bar for some food and drink as well as a chance to decompress and discuss the day’s events.

It had been a near thing and we were lucky to get away unscathed. We had let the excitement of the moment distract us all from the changing situation. None of thought about the rising tide nor had we noticed the firm sand area we needed going under the waves. Disaster can happen very quickly anytime, more so in remote areas like we are in. Quick thinking, doing just the right thing without panicking can salvage a tough situation, but it is far better to see the problem developing in advance. Lesson learned.


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