To the Glaciers - The Approach (Fixes 1-6)

Route Notes:

Ketchikan Airport

It is recommended you fly from Ketchikan International Airport using a skiplane so you can land on the glaciers we are going to go visit. Ketchikan Airport is across a small channel, called the Tongass Narrows, from Ketchikan, AK. The airport is located on Gravina Island - 5 minute ferry ride from Ketchikan. It services Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air.

The runway length is 7497 ft. and it is at an elevation of 88 feet. The airport is unique in that it is built on three levels (not able to be shown in FS2004). The terminal and nearby ramps are at the lowest level, then there is a ramp leading up to the runways that are on a higher level. It is a very interesting physical layout for an airport.

Ketchikan's History dates back to 1883, when a man named Snow built a salmon saltery. Two years later, businessmen from Portland, Oregon, hired Mike Martin to investigate possibilities for building a salmon cannery on the banks of Ketchikan Creek. By the early 1900's, Martin and the cannery's manager, George Clark, had set up a partnership and had opened a saltery and a general store. Two years later, with the fishing trade flourishing, Ketchikan was definitely in business. And by 1900, with a population of 800, the town was officially incorporated.

Ketchikan is well known as the salmon capital of the world and a paradise for sport fishermen and naturalists alike. During the summer months, the town bustles with visitors from all over the world. While the rustic boardwalk on Creek Street preserves a distinct historic feel, the town hums with new construction to keep up with the ever-expanding wave of tourism. Ketchikan has a population of 14,500 and is built along a steep hillside, with sections of the town built right over the water on pilings. An outstanding collection of totem poles make a visit to Ketchikan essential for anyone interested in Native art. Ketchikan's name supposedly comes from the native term "Katch Kanna", which roughly translates: "spread wings of a thundering eagle" and rightly named, for you only need to look along the water line and you're likely to see many bald eagles on waterside perches.

Direct Routing:

If the weather is good, and you do not wish to fly the scenic route, you can fly a direct route to Fix 6, the outfall of the Chickamin River. First, fly over Pennock Island to Mountain Point, this is the point of land on the east side of the Tongass Narrows at the very south end of the channel. Once you are there, you should have sufficient altitude to set a heading of 006 for 39 miles at a minimum altitude of 4500 feet en route to Fix 6, the outfall of the Chickamin River into the Behm Canal. This will take you direct to Fix 6 and keep you above the mountains.

Fix 1 - Pennock Island

After we take off from Ketchikan International Airport (PAKT) we will position ourselves southbound over Pennock Island, a large island in the center of the Tongass Narrows (channel). Ketchikan will be on our left. As you approach Pennock Island, you will be flying over the busy floatplane base 5KE in Ketchikan Harbor. On the leading area of the island slightly to the east, notice the wind generator. The cruise ships tie up to the dock directly in front of the wharf at Ketchikan, don't be surprised if you don't encounter cruise ships during our flight. As you come over Pennock Island, you will see the US Coast Guard Base (complete with cutter) there on the east side of the channel.

Also along the waterfront just 2 1/2 miles south of Ketchikan is the Native City of Saxman, the small community is just past the US Coast Guard base. It was founded in 1894 and named after Samuel Saxman who came to Alaska to teach school and settled on Tongass Island, then a village site. When the Cape Fox and Tongass peoples decided to combine into one village, Samuel and several Native companions left on a search for a new site. They never returned and were lost at sea.

Saxman's Totem Park was established in the mid-30s. People working for the Civilian Conservation Corps salvaged totems from abandoned village sites and built the park. Today, Saxman is home to several internationally acclaimed carvers. A cedar planked clan house and totem carving building are part of the summer attractions at Saxman. Besides road and water access, a walking/bike trail links Ketchikan and Saxman. If you get to Saxman (easy to get to from Ketchikan) ... DO NOT miss seeing the totem pole exhibits. This is real Alaskan History!

As you fly over Pennock Island, set a heading of 094 for Bold Island, 7.5 miles ahead.

Mountain Point is the last point of land on your left. This is an excellent local navigational between the Ketchikan area and the Misty Fjords National Monument areas. There is a logging community around the point and you will often see tugboats pulling log rafts in this area. You will also find a salmon cannery tucked into the bay by the bridge. The large inlet to the left is the Carol Inlet that goes up behind Ketchikan. On the right the finger of land pointing toward us is Race Point, with Annette Bay between the point and Red Mountain to the right. At the northern point of Red Mountain, where it nears the sea is the tiny settlement of China Town. The land mass to your right is Annette Island.

Fix 2 - Bold Island

You are now flying over the Rivillagigedo Channel. The small Spire Island is coming up just to our right. Watch the channel carefully as we fly and you will see the navigational channel markers blinking along the way. To the left of Bold Island is a little cove called Coho Cove. Look closely and you will see Antelope Ranch there, complete with bed and breakfast, a dirt runway and a water hanger and dock. The body of water coming up on the left is the Thorne Arm and it goes in that direction for nearly 40 miles. There are some beautiful sights along this part of the Misty Fjords. The tiny island just past Bold Island is Round Island.

Once over Bold Island, set a course of 089 for Alava Point. You will see it 5 miles away, the point of land out in the water. Just beyond this point is the Behm Canal. We will be turning into the Behm Canal on our way to the glaciers. You will often see cruise ships plying the waters of the Revillagigedo Channel in this area. Keep a close eye out for them.

Fix 3 - Alava Point

Once over Alava Point, set a course of 015 for Smeaton Island. As we fly to Smeaton Island, there are several notes of interest. First, we will fly over Alava Bay, coming up to your left. Look closely at the larger island and you might see the Alava Bay cabin, one of the US Forestry Service maintained cabins. You can stay at these for about $25 a night. They are very rustic, mostly with an outhouse and a mop. And if you go to their website, they'll even tell you to bring a 30.06 rifle along for "safety"!

Before we reach Smeaton Island, we will first fly over Fox Point and then Rudyerd Island comes up dead ahead. As you cross Rudyerd Island, you now have a good view of Smeaton Island, our next waypont. The end of this island closest to us is called Whale Point, the far end is called Harding Point. As you approach Smeaton Island, make sure you are at a minimum of 1500 feet, as its altitude is 1400 feet.

Fix 4 - Smeaton Island

Over Smeaton Island, we set a course of 353 for Winstanley Island. As you approach Winstanley Island, watch for the lakes to your right. Winstanley Lake is in that direction about 5 miles, there are two US Forestry Service Cabins there. The small island ahead of us just before we get to Winstanley Island is Candle Island. We use Candle Island as a visual navigational fix to service the cabins in that area.

Fix 5 - Winstanley Island and "The Rock"

Over Winstanley Island, set a heading of 357 that will take you to the outfall of the Chickamin River, our key waypoint for entering the glacier area of Misty Fjords. As we cross over the north end of Winstanley Island, you will see a small cove, on that cove is another US Forestry Service Cabin ... look closely, you can sometimes see the smoke coming from the cabin.

After passing over Winstanley Island, you will see Checats Lakes to your right at about 5 miles distance. A cabin is located on Checats also. It is doubtful you'll see it from this distance. This particular cabin is difficult to see even when you are close to it because of the trees surrounding it.

Just to the left of our course is "New Eddystone Rock" ... this is an interesting structure that looks like a chimney, (a 230 foot tall tower of basalt in real life). To the right are the tiny Eddystone Islands that are made of the same material. We continue on a course of 357 for about 21 miles. We will cross over Cactus point and Manzanita Island along the way.

The inlet you will pass to your right is Rudyerd Bay. There is a charter you can take from Ketchikan via Doug's Charters that goes up this bay and across a maze through the Adams Mountains ending up at the Portland Canal and Stewart, BC.

About Glaciers:

Most of the world's glaciers are found near the Poles, but glaciers exist on all of the world's continents, even Africa. Australia doesn't have any glaciers; however, it is considered part of Oceania, which includes several Pacific island chains and the large islands of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Both of these islands have glaciers. Glaciers require very specific climatic conditions. Most are found in regions of high snowfall in winter and cool temperatures in summer. These conditions ensure that the snow that accumulates in the winter isn't lost (by melt, evaporation, or calving) during the summer. Such conditions typically prevail in polar and high alpine regions. There are two main types of glaciers: valley glaciers and continental glaciers (known as ice sheets).

The amount of precipitation (whether in the form of snowfall, freezing rain, avalanches, or wind-drifted snow) is important to glacier survival. In areas such as Antarctica, where the low temperatures are ideal for glacier growth, very low annual precipitation causes the glaciers to grow very slowly. A glacier forms when snow accumulates over time, turns to ice, and begins to flow outwards and downwards under the pressure of its own weight.

In polar and high-altitude alpine regions, glaciers generally accumulate more snow in the winter than they lose in the summer from melting, ablation, or calving. If the accumulated snow survives one melt season, it is considered to be "firn." The snow and firn are compressed by the overlying snow, and the buried layers slowly grow together to form a thickened mass of ice. The pressure created from the overlying snow compacts the underlying layers, and the snow grains become larger ice crystals randomly oriented in connected air spaces. These ice crystals can eventually grow to become several centimeters in diameter.

As compression continues and the ice crystals grow, the air spaces in the layers decrease, becoming small and isolated. This dense glacial ice usually looks somewhat blue. Under the pressure of its own weight and the forces of gravity, a glacier will begin to move, or flow, outwards and downwards. Valley glaciers flow down valleys, and continental glaciers (ice sheets) flow outward in all directions from a central point. Glaciers move by internal deformation and/or by sliding at the base. Internal deformation occurs when the weight and mass of a glacier causes it to spread out due to gravity.

Sliding occurs when the glacier slides on a thin layer of water at the bottom of the glacier. This water may come from glacial melting due to the pressure of the overlying ice, or from water that has worked its way through cracks in the glacier. Glaciers can also readily slide on a soft sediment bed that has some water in it. Basal slip may account for most of the movement of thin, cold glaciers on steep slopes, or only 10 to 20 percent of the movement of warm, thick glaciers lying on gentle slopes. When a glacier moves rapidly, internal stresses build up in the ice which cannot be relieved by deformation alone, and cracks (called crevasses) form at the surface of the glacier. Glaciers can dramatically impact their surrounding environment by reshaping the underlying and surrounding landscape as they move, through both erosion and deposition.

You are going to see, first hand, how glaciers can reshape the landscape. The basins for the two rivers coming from the glaciers we'll see have been carved out between the mountains. We will see that "shaping" first hand on our tour. The glaciers we will see are the Leduc, the Through, the Chickamin, the Soule and the Salmon glaciers.

Fix 6 - The Chickamin River Outfall

At Fix 6, you turn into the Chickamin River basin. Set your heading for 026. As you approach this fix, you will be wanting to either decide to go to the Leduc or Chickamin glacier. Once that decision is made, be sure you have the correct flight plan loaded and go to The Leduc River Route or to the Chickamin River Route.

As you move to Fix 7 in one of the two alternatives below, you will have to spend most of your time watching your altitude and changing your headings to keep your aircraft safely flying through the mountainous mazes that lie ahead. You will be busy indeed, but enjoy the scenery as you fly. This is why the Misty Fjords scenery package was created, to give you, the virtual pilot a "near-real" experience of flying through the beautiful Alaskan landscape.

On to the Glaciers

Now you should download one of the two Glacier Approaches off the web page, either Leduc or Chickamin and continue your flight.