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The view: Turnagain Arm, Alaska

The pilot: Herbert Mann

The plane: Cessna 172

The mission: Fly a long distance solo flight from Soldotna (PASX)-Palmer (PAAQ)-Willow (PAUO) -Soldotna (PASX). Fly the west side of Cook Inlet, crossing over Kenai (PAEN) airspace before returning to home field in Soldotna.

The memory: It was a wonderful experience to fly across the Turnagain Arm then use the Anchorage East Side Corridor to fly between Anchorage and the Chugiak Mountains on the east all the way to Palmer. Departing Palmer behind a DC-3, I then transitioned over the north side of Wasilla to a soft field landing on the dirt strip at Willow. I departed behind a couple of buddies flying out in a pair of bushwheeled Supercubs. Just about every pilot’s dream. Then flying southwest over the top of Sleeping Lady (Susitna Mountains) down the west side of Cook Inlet. I turned east over West Forelands at 6,500 ft to transition the Cook Inlet. Here I ran into some lower hanging clouds with rain. I dropped down to 5,500 ft to remain clear of the clouds. After a few minutes the rain stopped and the ceiling improved. Halfway across the Cook Inlet, I started my descent into Soldotna, crossing over Kenai Class D airspace and landing back in Soldotna. An unbelievable afternoon and truly a rewarding experience. Dreams do come true if we work hard enough.

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