"Sarah" is now in Whitehorse, Canada
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"Sarah" and her pilot Laura were sitting in the plane. They had stowed their gear, completed the safety briefing and did the run-up, just like in Wasilla, and just like they would do all the way to Washington. Laura got her IFR clearance. "Remember, the last flight when I said that I could take you out of Alaska, but no one would ever take Alaska out of you?" "Yeah..." "Sarah" said. "Well...this clearance takes us to Eileson Range as our first way point and to gain altitude, then we have to fly back right over this airport - 80 miles just to overfly where we left...Alaska's not letting you go so easy," Laura quipped. "Sarah" smiled.
Going 50, 100 - even 250 miles out of the way is all too common in IFR flight. Controllers re-direct planes to accommodate traffic or according to published preferred routing, much of which involves a lot of going back to go forward. It's just the nature of the beast. This flight was going to drive home the point that the path to victory is not always a straight line. Often it is circuitous, taking paths that seem to make no sense; doing double work - like having to start legal defense funds over again to take one for the team.
The flight climbed to 11,000 feet, and entered clouds on the way up. Both native Alaskans, "Sarah" and Laura both knew that the weather changes very quickly. It was perfectly clear on the ground. The flight could have been legally flown visual. But instrument was the safer way to go, even if it meant doubling back. Since over-flying Palmer, the entire flight was over mountainous wilderness, and would be for at least the next 500 miles after Whitehorse.
Just like before, "Sarah" saw the Canadian border and heard the transition to Edmonton's controllers, and she felt that pang once more. "Sarah" and Laura turned toward one another briefly, but said nothing. It was one of those moments that did not require words. The next 200 miles would be marked by cloud-shrouded peaks. IFR flight in the clouds is like being in the shower when the room is steaming up. It's a slow, gradual effect. Laura knew it too well. Though the autopilot was on, she kept her eyes on the instruments, leaving her passenger to enjoy the view. The peaks slipped in an out of clouds. So much for "clear skies."
The clouds nearing Whitehorse continued to thicken. Laura had been cleared for a visual approach to the airport. That made her feel uneasy. She set up the ILS approach for the opposite runway to have it ready just in case.
The Safer Route is Not Always Expedient
Laura accepted the visual approach and descended to 5700 feet. She turned to "Sarah" and said, "We can continue this approach, but with the way the weather is constantly changing, I don't think it's wise. We can do an instrument approach to the opposite end and circle to land, but it's going to be a repeat of leaving Beaver Creek." "Sarah" agreed with taking the longer but safer route. Fuel was not an issue and both women knew the jagged peaks were not particularly concerned with convenience.
Laura was directed to climb back to 8600 feet for the final approach to the airport. Her route took her 40 miles southeast of the airport, then back in a horseshoe. The approach went smoothly and Laura circled to land on the runway she had original clearance for. Finally, after two reversals and over 160 miles of additional ground covered, they touched down and cleared the runway.
The next 500 miles in flights would take on a more eastward push with Watson Lake and Rainbow Lake being next up. "Sarah" is now 582 miles from Wasilla.
If you enjoyed this journey, please sponsor it by
donating to the Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund
Last year, the Alaska Fund Trust was established to raise money to defend Gov. Palin against frivolous ethics complaints and lawsuits that were filed against her in a coordinated effort to drive her out of office. On June 24, 2010, the Alaska Fund Trust was replaced by Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund. Those of you who donated to the Alaska Fund Trust will be receiving refunds within 90 days from June 24. You will have the option to re-donate these funds to the new Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund, which is the official, and legitimate fund now in existence. Please re-donate those funds to the Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund.