Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Airport/Facility Directory vs. the Alaska Supplement

In the lower 48, the airports are enumerated in the Airport / Facility Directory (A/FD), while in Alaska, they are in the Alaska Supplement. The A/FD is mint green with a silhouette of the states covered on the front and Airport/Facility Directory on the front. The Supplement is salmon-pate-colored (peach-pink), with a table of contents on the front and Supplement written where A/FD is on the rest.

The major differences comes after the section with all the airports, their lengths, frequencies, surfaces, and misc. remarks comes a whole lot of really interesting information, a lot of which falls into the "I really wish I knew that!" or "where the heck do you figure that out?". It contains the approaches and departures to get into and out of Anchorage's spaghetti-bowl airspace, what frequencies to use over what areas, reporting points for common sightseeing areas like Denali or Knik Glacier, how to get out of Skagway, that overflying downtown Talkeetna is a bad idea (they get irritated), etc.

There are other uses for this small paperback book. Firestarter, toilet paper, a bright-colored marker for judging the halfway point on a short dirt strip when you're not sure if you can make it off (not that I'm advocating littering, but it beats to flinders crashing!) But the best one I've heard so far was a supplement with "STAY HERE. DON'T MOVE." written on the back.

An Australian hiker got lost, and wound up about 6 miles off trail very far off the road system in winter. He'd fallen through ice and gotten soaked in temperatures well below zero. Finding him was "like finding a needle in a hay-stack." Once the pilot found him, he took his supplement, which is a very bright color against snow, wrapped some surveyor's tape around it, and tossed it out the window. When they got there on snowmachines a couple hours later, the hiker had wisely followed instructions!

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