Lower Kuskokwim Delta AI Project for FS2004
Covering the south west of Alaska, the Lower Kuskokwim Delta centers around the Kuskokwim River, the largest free-flowing river entirely within one state at around 724 miles long. The major settlement along the lower reaches of the river, Bethel (PABE), serves as the regional hub for a number of bush airlines such as Grant Aviation, Yute Air and Hageland Aviation, which serve over 25 remote villages across the delta, along with cargo carriers such as Arctic Circle Air and Arctic Transportation Services. Exposed to the Bering Sea along it's entire coast, the delta receives some of the harshest flying conditions for bush pilots to battle with.
With most of the area classed as wetlands through the summer, streches of tundra, streams, lakes and rivers seem endless with 30-40 miles regularly encountered between villages. During the winter, these wetlands become frozen and snow covered from October through May making VFR navigation even harder without many visual references to navigate by. And yet still, scores of Cessna 207 Stationair's and a handful of Cessa 208B Grand Caravans take to the air every day to provide a vital air service to the residents of this harsh environment. Without those aircraft, and the larger Casa 212's and Short Bros Skyvan's carrying cargo, life would be an even greater struggle.
Within Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2004, the Lower Kuskokwim Delta is pretty devoid of anything, as in real life, however the simple addition of AI traffic brings it to life. Using real-life sectional charts, it is possible to navigate in VFR conditions using VOR's, though the addition of GPS certainly helps! Indeed, most bush planes are equipped with a Garmin 296, 430 or 500-series device. The Lower Kuskokwim Delta AI project is designed to create the various bush airlines within flight simulator - producing aircraft repaints, building the flight plans as per published schedules, modifying airport layouts and scenery files, etc.
Although the area may not offer such impressive scenery as to be found whilst flying around Glacier Bay or Tongass Fjords in the south east of Alaska, or the grandeur of the Chugach Mountains and Alaska Range around the Anchorage area, there is something very pure and challenging about the remote flying being carried out by the pilots in the Lower Kuskokwim Delta. Either go for 'tundra' tires, skis or floats, and bring yourself out to the south west of Alaska to experience a very different kind of flight sim experience!