Answers for Pilots: Alaska--Pilot Heaven

February 1, 2013

flying in alaska

From the jagged, snowy peaks of the Chugach Mountains to the spectacular shoreline of Cook Inlet – from the gorgeous turquoise rivers of the Kenai Peninsula, teeming with fish, to the rugged Brooks Range Mountains in the Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska is breathtaking from the sky and on the ground. Flying is the perfect way to see the vast state. If you are thinking of making a summer trip north, now is a good time to start your planning.

If you take off close enough to Alaska to fly directly into the state with no landing in Canada, flight planning is very simple. You do have to file a flight plan and, if overflying Canada, write “Canada overflight” in the remarks section. If you’re crossing an ADIZ, 12-inch registration marks are required. An eAPIS manifest is not required. The Canadian government now charges U.S.-registered aircraft for ATC services based on the aircraft certified gross weight. The current fee is $17.00 CAN per quarter for aircraft under 2 metric tons (4,410 lb gross) and $56.75 for aircraft between 2 and 3 metric tons (up to 6,614 lb gross). See the NavCanada website for details for aircraft in higher weight classes.

For the rest of us in the Lower 48, who do have to stop for fuel in Canada, flight planning is a bit more involved. You will, of course, need a passport, pilot and medical certificates, and a restricted radiotelephone operators permit.

In addition, all U.S. registered aircraft must have:

  • A standard airworthiness certificate
  • A permanent registration certificate (no temporary certificates/pink slips)
  • A radio station license
  • Operating limitations information
  • Weight and balance information
  • An ID data plate
  • 12-inch registration marks are required if you’re crossing an ADIZ
  • Transponder with Mode C -  TSA waivers are still required and mandatory for all international flights for aircraft not equipped with a transponder.
  • Aircraft with fuel tanks installed in the baggage or passenger compartments must have Form 337 on board.
  • Either a 121.5 MHz or 406 MHz ELT
  • Emergency/survival equipment

Verify that you have insurance coverage for flight in Canada. Private aircraft must be covered with liability insurance. Proof of liability coverage needs to be carried onboard. Call AOPA Insurance Services, 800/622-AOPA (2672) or email aopainsurance@aopa.org for more information.

As mentioned above, you will need to carry survival equipment as much of the land you will fly over is remote wilderness. Find out what equipment is required in Answers for Pilots: Canada! Survival in the Wilderness. For further information, visit AOPA’s web pages on flying in Alaska─it’s full of additional resources you’ll find helpful.

Although it’s not required equipment, remember to add a camera to your list─one with a good zoom lens for close-up shots. If you are lucky, you might see moose drinking from a stream below, or sheep climbing the rocky mountain tops, or bear running from the sound of your approaching airplane. Have a wonderful time!