• RonTom: North To Alaska

    North To Alaska

    By Ron B and Tom O

    RonTom4: Tuscany Italy

    What is RonTom?

    We are two "Old Timers" with a passion for aviation and a penchant for telling stories. The result is some aviation / flightsim storytelling based on real-world locations that we think are fun and / or interesting. At the very least maybe you'll want to check out the scenery in MSFS 2020! We hope that this semi-regular feature will inspire you to learn or explore or fly somewhere new. (If you have locations that you'd like to have us visit, please feel free to e-mail: [email protected].)

    North To Alaska

    RonTom 5


    After some time in the Tuscany sun, I was ready to head north, and what better destination (and scenic contrast) than Alaska. A couple of commercials brought me to Seattle and then it was just a short drive to KTIW (Tacoma Narrows). Seattle is a wonderful trip in itself and driving across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on the way ... a special treat.

    Flying Canada's Inside Passage to Juneau takes some preflight planning, and survival readiness is necessary for this trip. No need to test the gods given the stories of torrential rain and fierce icing conditions along the route. So, with a land survival kit in the baggage compartment, the TBM (another form of insurance) was soon lined up on the runway and ready to go.

    RonTom 5     RonTom 5

    Soon we were overlooking the San Juan Islands, and turning to the northwest, we entered the Johnstone Strait. No orcas today, but during the summer months, the strait is home to approximately 150 of the whales, often seen by kayakers and boaters.

    Past Port Campbell the terrain changes and one will not see open water until Port McNeill is on the horizon, but the snow-covered peaks keep things interesting. Bella Bella is our next waypoint, and to the north lie the remains of Butedale.

    RonTom 5     RonTom 5

    Butedale is a ghost town on Princess Royal Island, founded in 1918 as a fishing, mining and logging camp. Initially established as a salmon cannery by Western Packers, the business was purchased by the Canadian Fishing Company until it was closed in the 1950's. At one time the summertime population was over 400! Not bad for a location miles and miles from nowhere.

    The site is now a popular point of interest for cruise ship and ferry passengers sailing the Inside Passage, but it is accessible only by boat or floatplane.

    With Ketchikan below we have now entered the State of Alaska. Alaska is by far the largest U.S. state by area, greater than Texas, California, and Montana combined. Simply stated, it is immense. The per capita income is also among the highest, owing to a diversified economy dominated by fishing, natural gas, and of course, oil, all of which the state has in abundance.

    RonTom 5

    Ketchikan is the oldest incorporated city in Alaska. Named after the creek which bears its name, Ketchikan served as a summer fishing camp for Tlingit natives for untold years, before the town was established in 1885. It is known as "Alaska's 1st City" due to its strategic position at the southern tip of the Inside Passage. (It's also a good destination in itself.)

    RonTom 5     RonTom 5

    The city receives large numbers of tourists, both by air and sea, due to its popularity as a cruise ship stop. In 2018 alone, Ketchikan Harbor saw 40 different cruise ships making more than 500 stops, bringing more than 1,073,000 visitors! Misty Fjords National Monument, about 40 miles (64 km) east of Ketchikan, is one of the area's major attractions, and well worth a visit.

    RonTom 5     RonTom 5

    Part of the Tongass National Forest, Misty Fjords is mountainous country incised by deep saltwater fjords. The only inhabitants are mountain goats, brown and black bears, wolves, seals, orcas, salmon, eagles, and a host of other wildlife. As the largest intact coastal rainforest in America, it is a treasure house of nature.

    After landing at PAJN, the airport shuttle dropped me into the heart of Juneau. One of Alaska's oldest and most beautiful cities, Juneau is home to majestic mountains, glaciers, wildlife, and views of waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and ocean.

    RonTom 5     RonTom 5

    At the same time, it is very isolated for a town of 32,255. It is the only state capital that one cannot drive to, other than Honolulu, and unlike most, Juneau receives some form of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, hail) 236 days per year (bring a rain jacket).

    As the capital, the primary employer is government, which includes state, federal, and municipal (airport, hospital, harbor, and school district) offices, and the University of Alaska Southeast.

    Another large economic contributor is tourism, as well as the fishing. While the port of Juneau does comparatively little seafood processing, compared to other towns of equal size, the local fleet sells their harvest to plants in nearby Sitka, Hoonah, Petersburg and Ketchikan.

    RonTom 5     RonTom 5

    Much to see and experience but it's time to catch some dinner and hit the hotel. All in all, the TBM made a breeze of this trip, but we have only experienced a sliver of this giant, there is far more to explore north of Juneau. Glacier Bay National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias, Katmai, Lake Clark, and of course Denali are just a few. For that adventure, I've got my eye on that floatplane I spotted near the airport.

    Tags: rontom

    1. sfgarland's Avatar
      sfgarland -
      Good article/videos. Keep 'em coming!
    1. markhoare's Avatar
      markhoare -
      Great article, thanks a lot. Brought back lot's of memories. I was lucky enough to do a cruise down the Inside Passage from Whittier, Alaska to Vancouver, BC and visited many of the places in the article. One of the inspirations for the trip was the old "Misty Fjords" scenery package from way back in the FS2002/2004 days. I even got to fly right seat in a DH Beaver floatplane from Ketchikan harbour. https://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/conte...rds-Phenomenon
    1. shermank's Avatar
      shermank -
      Thanks....and if you want some more flying, visit Return to Misty Moorings..
      plans and activities support all the major sims


    1. FrankPilot's Avatar
      FrankPilot -
      Ooooooh, lots of nice reading and viewing there! Is there anyone who does not love Alaska?! Cheers.
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