Alaska fliers complete general aviation flight to Russia

Posted: Tuesday, September 04, 2001

NOME (AP) -- A group of Alaska pilots made a weekend trip to the Russian Far East as part of an effort to open up a flight corridor for general aviation flights.

Four planes and at least a dozen crew members took part in the flight Sunday from Nome to Provideniya and back, according to The Nome Nugget and KNOM radio.

The pilots set out Sunday morning, but were turned back by poor weather and made a second attempt at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The planes remained on the ground at Provideniya for about 3 hours before returning to Nome at about 10:30 p.m.

Much of the trip was spent testing radio systems and communications between U.S. and Russian air-traffic controllers to make sure small planes can get continual guidance as they fly across the Bering Strait.

The Alaska Airmen's Association sponsored the flight, testing the first visual flight rules route agreed upon between the Russian Civil Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The route goes northwest from Nome, along the Bering Sea coast to Wales, then west to the Diomede Islands and to the Russian mainland south to Provideniya.

An effort to fly across the Bering Strait last week was postponed, due to last-minute bureaucratic snags in Russian.

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