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Twice Lost, Twice "Fuelish", Twice Saved by Alert Flight Service Specialists

Luscombe in flight.

The solo Luscombe SL-8 pilot was en route VFR from Fort Nelson, British Columbia, to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. Its barely more than 100 NM as the crow flies, and slightly longer if youre flying IFR ("I Follow the Road"). When the pilot became uncertain of his position (read "lost"), he called the Whitehorse FSS through the Watson Lake remote communications outlet. The alert specialist who took the call advised the pilot to climb and attempt to locate the highway.

Following the advice, the pilot located his position over the highway; unfortunately, at about the same time, he ran out of gas. The engine quit, and he made a successful forced landing on the Alaska Highway. Co-operative RCMP officers arranged for fuel and blocked the highway, allowing the intrepid pilot to depart again to continue to Whitehorse.

Several days later, it was the same aircraft, the same pilot and the same story. This time, the Luscombe pilot was flying from Atlin, British Columbia, to Juneau, Alaska another 100 NM trip if you take the direct route, but longer if youre flying IFR (here, this means "I Follow the River").

This time, the Whitehorse flight service specialist overheard a United Parcel Service courier flight attempting to assist the Luscombe pilot, who, having flown past his intended destination, was lost somewhere south of Juneau and had only 30 min. of fuel remaining.

The specialist suggested that the pilot activate his ELT. Then he alerted the Victoria Rescue Coordination Centre, the Juneau FSS and the United States Coast Guard to the serious situation. With the aid of the ELT, the Coast Guard helicopter quickly located the crash site and the pilot, who was waving from the shoreline.

Fly IFR in the northern mountains (thats "I Follow Roads/Rivers"), have good maps, be meticulous in your map reading (a GPS wouldnt hurt), carry full fuel and, above all, listen to and bless those flight service specialists.

Originally Published: ASL 3/1997
Original Article: Twice Lost, Twice "Fuelish", Twice Saved by Alert Flight Service Specialists

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