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My first flight to Alaska, in 1994, was in conjuction with a true circumnavigation of the border of the Continental US. A trip of 17,400 miles, 41 days, and 231 flight hours. The second attempted flight to Alaska ended at Muncho Lake, British Columbia, nearly 4,000 miles from home. I broke the landing gear and left wing, ending my flight. In 2001 (the second successful flight), we made it to Point Barrow, Alaska, departing my grass airstrip, in a cow pasture, near Titus, Alabama, on 1 July. The return flight carried us back into the Lower 48 at Oroville, Washington, then east across the US to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the big fly in, and finally home to Titus, Alabama, on 30 July.
John Hauck & Kolb III
Time to go as my friends clear the strip. Day 1: June 26, 2004
All of my flights are done solo, me and the airplane. I carry everything I will need on board the aircraft except food, water, and aircraft fuel. Usually, I never make prior arrangements for support, and never know where I will spend the night until I get there. I try to "rough it", sleeping with the airplane, in my tent, in hangers, passenger terminals, or anywhere I can find a dry place out of the bugs to throw my air mattress and sleeping bag. Supplies and gear include clothing, tropical and Arctic, Arctic survival gear, sleeping bags (summer and winter), air mattress, tent, survival rifle, knife, hatchet, pack stove, cook set, three liters of water, 17 MRE's, Emergency Locator Transmitter, Iridium Satellite Telephone, nearly 40 sectional flight charts, Canada Flight Supplement, Alaska Flight Supplement, and much, much more.
This year, on 26 June, I loaded the Kolb, filled it with 25 gallons of 93 octane auto fuel, then waited for the cows and calves to clear the 750 foot grass strip so I could begin my third flight to Alaska. Two days later I was landing at Denver, Colorado. Next morning I climbed out of Denver headed for the highest airport in the North American Continent, Leadville, Colorado, at 9,927 feet above sea level. I went full throttle on the west side of Denver, not reducing power until I had climbed to 13,000 feet for the landing at Leadville.
From Leadville I flew north through the Rockies to Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and on to Cranbrook, British Columbia, where I cleared Canadian Customs. Just short of Prince George, BC, I caught up with inclement weather. It would be two days before I could continue my flight north to Alaska. Luckily, the Prince George Flying Club House was on the other side of the airport with a sign on the front that read, "Travelers Welcome". I spent two nights in the trailer, out of the rain and cold wind.
Spent 2 nights at Prince George waiting on weather to clear
Meziadin Lake General Store Stewart-Cassiar Hwy
Weather was marginal from Prince George, where I departed wearing a tee shirt. In a few minutes I was looking for more clothes. The further northwest I flew, the colder it got. From Smithers I flew the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, landing at a gravel airstrip at the timber camp south of Meziadin Lake. After checking with the lady at the store, I taxied across the highway and up to the gas pumps. She told me everybody does it. Topping off with fuel here allowed me to fly to Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK.
The side trip to Stewart/Hyder was one of the most spectacular of the 48 day flight. I had driven this area on the ground, and now I got to fly it. The weather was marginal, not knowing if I could make it through the very narrow valley all the way into the airstrip at Stewart. Was a relief to see the Portland Canal and the airstrip off in the distance. While here, I flew the Salmon Glacier, 5th largest in the world. Landed up in the mountains at the old Granduc Copper Mine, which has been shut down for more than 20 years.
Hoping to get to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, I pushed on. I didn't make it to Dease Lake though, a planned intermediate fuel stop. The mountain pass 23 miles south of Dease Lake was closed by weather. Low on fuel, I turned around, flew back down the highway until I found a turn out, landed on the highway, pulled off and spent the night. My irridium satellite telephone allowed me to call Whitehorse FSS to cancel my flight plan, and home to let them know I was safe. I put up my tent and went to bed.
Watson Lake, YT- airport camping
Viewing Mt McKinley at 10,000 ft
Forrest fires were burning along the Alaska Highway between Watson Lake and Whitehorse, YT. Visibility was marginal, but we got through, landing at Whitehorse International Airport late in the evening. Lucked out and got a room at the refueler. I have stayed here many times on past flights.
My plan was to fly to Dawson City, YT, then up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, and on to Tuktoyaktuk, NT, the northernmost village on the North American Continent in Canada. However, forest fires and smoke prevented this flight. Instead, I headed on up the Alaska Highway for Northway, Alaska, cleared US Customs, and then encountered a terrific head wind all the way into North Pole, AK, more than 300 miles north.
Smoke from the forest fires up north prevented flight to Bettles and the North Slope. After a week's wait, I flew south to Palmer. Flying off a friend's gravel strip on the Knik River, we flew local glaciers and mountains. I made day flights to Homer, Seldovia, Valdez, McCarthy, flying direct over glaciers, ice fields, and mountains, rather than the long way around following roads.
Another week and back to North Pole. A couple days prep and I was on my way to Bettles and the North Slope. I visited Dead Horse, Kaktovik (Barter Island), Colville Village, Point Barrow (nothernmost point of the North American Continent and 205 miles from the nearest road), landed on the beach 12 miles south of Barrow where Wiley Post and Will Rogers were killed in an aircraft accident in 1935.
Buddies at Barter Island AK
Worthington Glacier, north of Valdez
I was fortunate to find musk ox herds, a wolf pack, caribou herds, grizzlies and black bears, artic swans, snow geese, and many more animals and birds.
When time came to head back to Alabama, I took a side trip to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territory, Canada. Tuktoyaktuk is the northernmost Eskimo village on the North American Continent in Canada. It is located more than 500 miles north of Dawson City, Yukon Territory, 80 miles north of the only road to that area of the world. The weather was good, but very windy and cold.
Eight days from Tuktayaktuk, NT, and 48 days since I took off on this adventure, I was setting up for my landing at my little grass strip near Titus, AL. The grass had grown knee high and green. The cows were waiting for my return. It was time to unload the little airplane that had dependably carried me 13,800 miles, for the last time.
Caribou in the Artic Ocean
4 miles north of Pt Barrow, AK, the Northern most point of the North American Continent
Author: John Hauck
Flying since Army Rotary Wing Flight Course, 1968. Spent two years in Vietnam. One on the ground with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and one flying AH-1G Cobra helicopter gunships with the 101st Airborne Division. Retired Army, 1980. Have been building and flying Kolb ultralight aircraft since 1984. Grew up in Tallahassee, FL. and now lives on Lake Jordan, near Titus, AL, since 1976. John was 65 years old when he made the Alaska Flight, Summer 2004. His Kolb Mark III has 2,250+ hours airframe and 900+ engine hours.