Thursday, May 22, 2008

Valdez TO and Landing Competition

Jake and I chose the Valdez short takeoff and landing competition over the Kenai Air Fair this year. I had never before landed in Valdez which I can’t believe. I called flight service to see if there was some sort of post 9/11 flight restriction about flying near the Valdez oil terminal (terminus of the Alaska pipeline) and they didn’t know, other than the general nationwide powerplant/dam/stadium avoidance warning. The briefer consulted a Supervisor and then said “You’d think there would be something specific but we can’t find one so don’t loiter over it”. So I flew right over it because it was the only thing I recognized to report my position with and there was a LOT of traffic.

We had a great day and ran into a bunch of people we knew. It was sunny and beautiful – we even got sunburned! I’d like to spend the night next year, but the Valdez weather is always so unpredictable...

The route, about an hour each way.

Over the top of Knik Glacier into Prince William Sound.

It looked like Ultima Thule brought everyone they knew in this thing, including a few drums of fuel? (They drained the fuel from their competition planes into the drums.)

A gorgeous Goose. leather club seating and a very modern panel. I thought it was Jimmy (or maybe Warren?) Buffett’s but it's registered to an AK corporation. The ex-Governors Westwind Jet was there also and it’s a beauty too.

We talked to Kirk Ellis while he was emptying the Hulk for the competition. I'd never seen this up close - being made from a Supercub, apparently it is registered as a PA-18 with mods. The strangest thing is that they added the two front seats and kept the single stick so the pilot flies it with a right hand "side stick".

The wind was very light and the Supercubs generally took off in less than 100 feet and the 180's were under 200. The following are the 2 shortest TO's we saw. Both were 'exhibition' aircraft and were not part of the competition.

The first one was some sort of Cub that sounded like it had a real big engine. I think the announcer mentioned some connection to “Big Rocks and Long Props” that I couldn’t quite make out. The first time he took off, he yawed real bad like he couldn't keep the engine torque under control.

The second one looked a modified cub with a purpose built wing for short takeoffs with a wild leading edge and got off in 46 feet if I remember correctly. The guy in the photos is crouched by the 50 ft cone.

Thanks to Jake for taking all the photos! Dave