In preparing my review of the recently released An-2 for Microsoft Flight Simulator, I’ve taken the aircraft out to several different locations putting the type through its paces and getting a good close feel for the airplane. For this flight journal I took the ski equipped variant out on a beautifully scenic flight north of Talkeetna to Denali national park in Alaska.
Feels at home
Designed in the late 1940s in the Soviet Union by the Antonov company near Kiev, Ukraine, the An-2 was designed to be a utility airplane. One capable of withstanding rough airstrips, back country flying, and whatever the elements could throw at it.
Alaska is pretty far away from that location but the An-2 has proliferated around the world including to the United States for pleasure flying and airshows. Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article written about the challenges of flying the An-2 in America if you want to give that a read. Whatever the real world considerations are, in MSFS, we can fly whatever we want wherever we want and so here I went!
I have to say that the An-2 feels very much at home in this rugged landscape.
The home base for this flight is NorthernSky’s PATK Talkeetna Airport as sold by Orbx Direct. This is a great little airport and its well suited for short hops south to places like Ancorage but its also a launching point into some spectacular scenery to the north. Today I headed for Denali National Park and Reserve.
Time of day and weather conditions were set to real time and real weather… and that gave me these dramatic clouds to make my journey that much more interesting.
Denali State Park is home to what appears to be some spectacular sights including the highest mountain peak in North America – Mount McKinley. It’s a place that’s on my ‘to visit’ list.
I didn’t have a specific point to reach on this flight but after a long flight cruising up river valleys and past the flatter parts of Denali State Park, I got into the mountains and started cruising up the valleys between peaks. I was looking for a relatively flat spot to land and I found one.
I made a wide turn down the valley and then came back at the landing zone in the opposite direction. Something the An-2 handled easily and without a complaint. With full flaps down I touched down at something under 60 kph. Again… something the An-2 handles easily. And after a few shudders and skips I was firmly down with the skis handling the snowy terrain.
After admiring the view, I pushed the throttle forward again and up we went! The takeoff on the An-2 is incredibly short. Even over rough terrain.
It was time to retrace my steps which I roughly did flying back down the same river and straight into Talkeetna airport where I did a landing in the snow next to runway 36.
Also, shout out to the Cessna pilot that stalled so close to the end of runway 18 just after I landed there. You’ll get there!
Maybe try flying the An-2 as you’ll never be able to truly stall this airplane. It just floats… It’s really incredible.
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Great addon to MSFS, bought it at the day of release!
I had Talkeetna-Denali tour flight booked this summer, but it was canceled due to the weather conditions. It is cool I still can fly it virtually!
One minor historical correction: the Antonov design bureau moved to Kiev in 1952, after designing An-2.
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Hopefully you get to do that trip in real life sometime. It’s going on my wish list!
In the meantime, it’s good fun in MSFS.
Thanks for the correction!