...As Alaskans Fly To Russia, VFR

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A group of four airplanes -- a Cessna 210, two 185s, and a Piper Twin Comanche -- flew from Nome, Alaska, to the Russian Far East's Provideniya Bay Airport on July 24, in the annual flight organized by the Alaska Airmen's Association. The airmen have been working with Russian officials for over 10 years to establish VFR Route B-369. Each flight requires months of preparation, though the route itself is only about 100 nm long. The airmen have made arrangements for places for pilots to stay overnight and for 100LL avgas to be available. They hope to eventually enable GA pilots to fly from Anchorage to Tokyo. This year, the group had planned to extend the route to the town of Anadyr, but weather and beauracratic obstacles prevailed against them. They hope to re-strategize and try again. "Numerous Russian regulations and modes of thinking had to be changed and overcome to allow general aviation aircraft into Russia," Felix Maguire, one of the trip organizers, told AVweb. "Our original goal was to melt the ice curtain and reunite families in Alaska and Russia who had been separated by the political lines. We have done that. It is now possible for [residents of] King Salmon to visit the aunts and uncles that they had never met in the village of New Chapalino, and they can get there in a private aircraft flown low-level along a safe route." The Alaska Airmen met with Russian aviation authorities in Anchorage last April to discuss the route extension, and the officials are supportive of the concept, Maguire said.