Face it: it’s tough to get around Alaska without flying–often in a small plane. Here’s a roundup of some (but not all) of the operators that do a good job:
a. Alaska Airlines. Y-e-s-s-s, they’re the Big Dog. They fly their big 737s everywhere from Adak to Barrow to Ketchikan and many places in between. I’m a frequent flyer–so are most Alaskans.
b. Era Alaska. Formerly Era Aviation, now merged with Frontier Flying Service and Hageland Aviation to serve more than 100 Alaska communities. Above, one of Era’s Dash-8s that fly to Kodiak, Homer, Kenai, Valdez, Cordova, Fairbanks–among cities.
c. Wrangell Mountain Air. Kelly and Natalie Bay fly each day from Chitina back to McCarthy, int eh heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Plus–they do fly-outs and flightseeing from McCarthy all over the park.
d. Island Air in Kodiak. Bob Stanford over in Kodiak sends planes all over–for bear viewing, or to haul people and groceries out to the far corners of the island.
e. Taquan Air in Ketchikan. Aside from the flightseeing trips to Misty Fjords, Taquan serves several communities on Prince of Wales Island. They fly deHavilland Beavers on floats.
f. Wings of Alaska. Based in Juneau, Wings flies to Hoonah, Skagway, Haines and Kake. Plus, I’ve hired them to fly me out to the Taku River before. They do a great job.
g. Katmai Air in King Salmon. I’ve flown from Lake Hood with these guys out to King Salmon, but most of their flights are between King Salmon and Brooks Lodge. They also do flightseeing and lodge pickups from several lodges around the park: Brooks Lodge, Kulik Lodge and Grosvenor Lodge. Sonny Peterson and his family have operated the service for more than 55 years.
h. TEMSCO Helicopters. I’ve flown with these guys in Juneau and Skagway, although they operate all around Southeast Alaska. Glacier landings are a specialty–but they also work with the Forest Service, geologists, mining companies and a host of other folks.
i. Talkeetna Aero Services. Although they’re based in Talkeetna and I’ve flown around McKinley with them, my favorite flight with pilot/owner Eric Denkewalter was out to Beaver from Fairbanks on a brisk January day. The temperature hit -68F when we were there. Clear, blue skies and -68F. I’ll never forget it!
Again, these are just a few of the quality operators in the state. Get out and see some of the sites!
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