The trip from Alaska back to Texas was a whole other set of challenges. One of the primary challenges was the weather in Southeast Alaska. We had planned on starting home on Friday July 12th, but the Sitka, Wrangle, Ketchikan corridor was pretty well socked in with low ceilings and low visibility.
On Sunday, the weather lifted enough to allow us to get into Ketchikan. Here is our Flight Aware track.
For the return trip, we had decided to try a little different route for the return home so that we could stop in some states we had never visited.
As I looked at the winds aloft, it looked like there might be a way to shave off a stop and several hours by cutting across the corner of Canada. We took advantage of the winds and climbed to 19,000′ and on up to 21,000′ to stay out of some turbulence. Here is our actual Flight Aware Track.
We climbed out of Ketchikan and once we got handed off to Canadian ATC we were cleared direct to Great Falls, Montana.
This is the leg where it would have been really helpful to have gotten weather info, icing reports, or cloud tops from ATC…however, none of these basics of ATC service in the US were available from Canadian ATC. I had radar from XM, but it displayed differently than the US version. The truth is, I never fully trust the XM radar display, so having the ability to cross-check the radar with ATC is very comforting, but none of that was available in Canadian airspace.
After over 9 hours in the plane, we were absolutely ready to get out and get some rest. We parked at Front Range Aviation and they loaned us a car and gave us some hotel recommendations. Trust me when I say that the Hilton Garden Inn had one very comfortable bed!
Now is a good time to explain that there was a very strange weather pattern over MO, AR, KS, OK, & TX. Rather than systems moving from West to East…they instead, were moving from East to West. Here is a grab from my DUATS briefing.
After a fuel stop in Nebraska (KLXN), we had to make a decision. Here is the FlightAware Track. The weather system was spinning up plenty of storms, but add in afternoon heating and the convection was not something that was anything I wanted to mess with. I knew any deviations would need to be to the EAST to get on the back side of the storm. So we decided to stop at the best Bed & Breakfast we know…my Parent’s house in Bolivar, MO (M17). Here is the FlightAware Track for KLXN to M17.
The key to getting home the next day was going to be leaving EARLY before the daytime heating started firing up the storms. Here is the FlightAware track for our final leg. We departed M17 in clear skies and the air was smooth as silk. On the approach in to the DFW Class B, there was a 1500′ ceiling but no convection. We ended our great adventure with an RNAV 17 Approach into F46 and a nice snug hanger for N66444.
I hope you have enjoyed the journey with us!