Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

Alaska calling

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The June issue of Flight Training, going to press this week, Juneauis full of great content about the great state of Alaska. Pilots can’t get enough about Alaska (and can’t stop dreaming about going there, flying there, living there, or working there). Maybe it’s because general aviation is so entrenched in the state because there’s almost no other means of transportation for many communities. Maybe it’s the allure of the bush-pilot lifestyle, whatever that may be. Maybe it’s the endless possibilities of where you can land: water, snow, a glacier, gravel. I don’t know; you tell me what it is in the Comments section.

But anyway, as I was saying—Alaska! The photo you see is one I took from the left seat of a modified Cessna 150 in June 2008, somewhere near Juneau. I was midway through a weeklong cruise from Seattle, and I knew that the 12 hours our cruise ship was docked at Juneau was the only window I’d have to do some affordable flying. (Much as I wanted to do a glacier flight, that wasn’t in the budget. But if you can afford one, do it and tell me how it went.)  So I went on the Internet, found a flight instructor, called him from Maryland, and scheduled some dual. Two weeks later, he picked me up in downtown Juneau, drove me to the airport, and I had the most memorable 1.3 hours of flying of my life at that point.

The scenery was spectacular. The flight instructor pointed out several little sand bars and gravel strips. We overflew a 1,900-foot gravel strip that from 200 feet looked like a dirt path made by a couple of four-wheelers. For $168, I considered my flight a bargain.

Editor Ian J. Twombly has fond memories of Alaska, too. It’s where he got his seaplane rating–an experience he describes in this 2005 article (see the sidebar, but read all of Katie Writer’s discussion of what’s involved in becoming a bush pilot).

Do you have Alaska dreams? Better yet, do you have Alaska memories? If so, share them in the Comments section. The June issue of Flight Training starts shipping to homes on April 4; digital subscribers will see it a on March 28.—Jill W. Tallman

 

Photo of the Day: Iditarod Air Force

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Since 1973, Alaska’s annual sled dog race from Anchorange to Nome has depended on a corps of volunteer bush pilots to move people and supplies along the trail. They’ve ferried dog food, bales of straw for dog bedding, wooden stakes to mark the trail, cooking fuel, and lumber to build temperary shelters at checkpoints. They carry veterinarians, race officials, volunteers, and checkpoint staff—and of course, dogs. The Idatarod would not be possible without general aviation. Read much more, and view a slideshow of the event, in Tom LeCompte’s article from the April 2008 issue of AOPA Pilot ( http://www.aopa.org/members/files/pilot/2008/dog0804.html ).—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Anchorage nose art

Friday, December 7th, 2012

On May 19, 2007, AOPA Pilot editors were literally all over the map–all of us were stationed at airports around the United States to capture images and words for what would become “A Day in the Life of America’s Airports.” Then-Senior Editor Machteld Smith got a plumb assignment: She went to Lake Hood Seaplane Base in Anchorage. The nose art you see here is one of numerous photos taken that day. You can see a slideshow and a video on the website, http://www.aopa.org/pilot/dayinthelife/ ), as well as check out the other locations where we turned up.—Jill W. Tallman

Ariel Tweto gets her ticket

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

In last season’s Flying Wild Alaska on the Discovery Channel, we were following the adventures of Ariel Tweto, wondering if she would be able to find time to hit the books and knock out her private pilot training.

Well, wonder no more. In the season (and series) finale that aired on July 20, Ariel took her checkride and passed. Of course, we didn’t learn that until the final five minutes of the episode. We had to suffer through much hand-wringing and consternation over the fact that Ariel’s examiner would be someone from the FAA rather than a designated pilot examiner. This being reality television, we also had to endure speculation that she might not pass the oral (she did) and that she might blow her short-field landing (she didn’t, but she did do a go-around).

In many ways, Ariel’s flight training experience mirrored everyone else’s. She had an extremely busy schedule, making it difficult to schedule her lessons; her flight instructor John Ponts left in mid-training. She switched aircraft a few times, so she had to familiarize herself with different systems and avionics each time. (At one point, she was training in a Cessna 207, which brings its own set of challenges to a student pilot.) Flight Training interviewed Ariel for the January 2012 issue, and you can read that interview here (and see a video of the whole gang at AirVenture 2011).

Some might argue that Ariel had a lot going for her as a student pilot–she grew up in a flying family and had well-maintained aircraft at her disposal. But she also grew up in Alaska, which probably dealt her more than a few weather delays. And it can’t have been easy for her to learn to fly while filming a reality TV show. Often while watching her struggle to land I was thankful no cable station ever wanted to videotape my flight lessons and broadcast them to a national audience. So here’s to Ariel, who eloquently summarized her hard-won flying privileges at the end of the episode: “I just need a runway, and then I have the whole world.”—Jill W. Tallman