Updated: May 29, 2022
Put on Some Skis and did some Ski Flying!
Left Missouri Friday mid morning last week. Made it to Anacortes Washington. Saturdays legs Northbound up the coast were at a low altitude to enjoy the views. Made the jump to Petersburg AK in just under 4 hours. Great weather and views. I dont have the ability to shoot and I dont think a camera can capture the views so I focused on just taking it in. Petersburg had a Viking thing going on downtown just a short walk from the airport and we sampled the local food and enjoyed watching the people. Kids running around in the spring weather, shorts, no shoes, just having a great time. Then we made the next hop past all the glaciers to where my buddy lives on a private strip near Big Lake. Luckily we landed at the right one.
Next day was too see what I had for skis and get this conversion started. They were bigger than expected. “How am I going to get these home?” I had prepped the plane, Fittings, Hydraulics, test fit the axles at home in Mo. Hoisted the plane and started putting the skis on. My buddy Dano had the contacts and by Monday we had the info and parts to get started. Everyone up there was very helpful. One gentleman (Im so sorry that I cant remember his name) said he didnt have the Bungees but had the PNs, at hand. It was like the book was open in front of him when I called. I apologized for just stealing his time and not buying anything, He said “No problem, This is aviation.”
Got the Cables and Bungees rigged, Cycled the skis a few times with the amphib float hydraulic power pack and it was time for photos and test flight. No adverse flight characteristics. Decided on a target cruise of 120kts indicated for driving around.
Got some great information on a couple frozen lakes with easy access for a newbie like me. All the experienced guys were busy working the great weather with all the tourists and climbers and couldn't take me by the hand.
Found a great place to dip my toe. A bunch of flybys and draggs to go-around before committing. Landed, kept the speed up, my right 60 left 120 back on my tracks didnt go as planned. Turned rt better than left but all was well where we parked. Incredible weather, sunny and calm wind. Incredible views. Tried to walk around but would easily drop through the crust up to your knees. The plane sat high and proud on those 4000s. Took trophy photos. Called it a win and blasted off, no problem.
Headed for Talkeetna next. Landed, ordered Jet-A, and went for a walk through town. Lunch and looked in a couple gift shops. The town and airport was bustling, More turbine Single Otters on skis than I could count. Was able to grab a pilot getting ready to launch his packed 185 with climbers and gear. We asked for a couple of hints on landing in that mountain range, He said “There's tons of places to land up there, Have a great time!” and into his plane he went. I needed more info than that to tackle that mountain so we decided to do a scenic flight up that way and see what's going on. We are at 8500ft and there are a lots of planes ahead and 2000 ft above us on the screen. Wow! We fly up the glacier, Clouds coming off the peak make the lighting on the snow difficult to get depth perception, so we take it easy and try to see where everyone is going. Im looking for a bunch of airplanes lined up, orange cones lining the snow runway, Marshaler in an orange vest with lighted wands. I must be up the wrong glacier. Not really but that would have been nice. I look over and up the side of the mountain, there is a Cessna parked sideways. Im thinking “is that a crash?” people begin to emerge from the little plane precarious on the slope. My brain quickly determines that this is out of my league. While circling getting in the view. Another Cessna is parked next to him. Wow again. Incredible is not enough to describe the views. Alas it was time to head back to my buddies so we could reconfigure back to high alt cross country cruising.
It was a shame to spend so little time but my flying Buddy and I had to get back to the lower 48 and take care of our busy lives.
This 206 is a monster. You need twin speed, it has it. Long X-country Cruise, Autopilot. Bad weather in the Teens, go to the FLs. You need to climb, it has it in fist fulls. Need to drop in a short grass strip, No problem use reverse. Oversized objects, Wow it fits! Config from Wheel pants, or Big tires, Floats, and now Wheel skis. Its a lot of work to build up but I'm grateful for being able to go and enjoy it a little.
Got the 7 ½ foot long main wheel skis + nose ski and all our gear inside. Headed home. Wished for a tail wind but at least it wasnt a head wind. Made it from Petersburg AK to West Montana one shot 4 hours 38 min. Averaged 190kts true FL210 - FL250. US and Can ATC were very helpful, Direct anywhere I wanted to go. I'm interested to see what the ATC bill from Canada will be. Going up the coast, no charge for VFR, I was told.
Overall, Trip took 7 days. 4 days of travel, 2 days of work,1 day to play. $7000 in fuel, hotel, O2. Lucked out on weather, My bleed heat is anemic greater than FL210 for flights over 4 hours above the 49th parallel. My buddy hated me. FL250 we save 4 gals per hour! I wanted that fuel in the bank until I knew we could make it past Can.
Great Trip! Who is up for the Next Adventure!