Thank you for serving.
I flew my Cessna 205 VFR to and around Alaska in Aug and Sept 2009. I flew gps direct non-stop from eastern Washington State W01 to Ketchikan, no customs, just filed the flight plan with the US side. I spent 3 days in Ketchikan waiting for a break in the weather, stayed at a hostel for $28.25 a night. Flew to Haines and Skagway, stayed at a hostel in Skagway for $20.00 a night. Camped at the awesome airplanes only campground at Fairbanks, great spot with hot showers and loaner bicycles for only $10.00 dollars a night. Tamarack Air at the other end of the airport was great, they (she) had all the charts we needed and even lent us a car to go visit the museum in Fairbanks. Camped at Coldfoot airport, walked to the truckstop on the haul road and checked out the visitors center just off the highway. No fuel at the time at Coldfoot and poor weather to the north so we sidestepped over to Bettles and camped there, got fuel (expensive) and ate at the lodge there, nice folks. Slightly better weather and we flew to Anaktuvuk Pass in the Brooks Range, not much there, friendly folks. Then on to Deadhorse, only stopped long enough to get fuel and weather report, then on to Barrow.
Barrow was IFR with 30 mile visibility and a 500 foot ceiling. I transmitted my location and intentions on the CTAF, Barrow Flight Service came on frequency and said that Barrow was IFR and asked my intentions. I realized that since Barrow has a flight service station and no control tower that the flight service station becomes the controlling agency when the field goes IFR, that means that VFR pilots must request a Special VFR arrival, this was granted of course, but they can't offer it, the pilot has to REQUEST Special VFR. Spent 2 great days in Barrow, very friendly folks, locals took us 11 miles down the beach on 4 wheelers to see the Wiley Post/Will Rogers memorial at the site where those two crashed and died on their around the world flight. Kotzebue was beautiful and sunny one day and raining the next, then back to Fairbanks. Leaving Alaska several days later I cleared customs at Whitehorse without problem, although filing the eAPIS was a bit of a pain. Whitehorse, Mckenzie, 108 Mile and the uphill strip at 100 Mile to visit family, then filed back to W01 with the instruction to pick up a transponder code when I flew by Kamloops.
My transponder failed and would not transmit the code, the Canadians didn't have a solution other than to land in Canada. On the ground the US FAA folks said that I needed to get up high enough to contact Seattle Center, then they could consider the transponder an inflight equipment failure and give me a no transponder clearance to cross into the US. If I had known this I could have done that first without landing short of the border to sort it out. Not often a transponder fails when trying to cross the border, but now I know how to handle it.
Canada has slightly different VFR rules, no VFR above 12,000 unless terrain requires it, no VFR on top with an instrument rating.
Hopes some of this is helpful.
Thanks again, David Hanna