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Ever been on a float plane in Alaska? Try Rust’s Flying Service – Yeah it’s really cool!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (11)
Click on any photo to do a full screen slide show of all the shots of this flight.

That is me mic’d up ready to fly my first ride in a float plane ever. Yeah, I am an all things aviation geek and I LOVE small planes. I love flying the plane myself and I love being a passenger. I just love flying! Plus the water airport is quite literally a few minute walk from the ANC airport. A short stroll and you are there (they will pick you up and drop you off btw). But I am getting ahead of myself.

I know some folks don’t care for small planes but if you are going to visit Alaska you need to embrace your inner prop engine and get ready to rock-N-roll.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (10)

Rust’s Flying Service has a bunch of them that are either very small to rather large depending on your group and naturally on what tour you want to experience.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (6)

While in the photos the day looks just amazing and clear (it was) there were also gusts up to 50 MPH so my hope to take a long ride around Mt. Denali was just not going to happen this day. Time for plan B.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (8)

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (9)

What they were able to do was just take a tour around the area. I was told it would be really bumpy and was I OK with that? No problem, that just makes it more fun to me (I do fly a little after all)!

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (12)

I had never taken off from water before. I have never landed on water either as most of the planes I have been on the only reason for a water landing would be if something very bad had happened. It was very exciting and a new rather “splashy” feeling at takeoff (and no piano keys).

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (13)

But as soon as we left the water it felt just like any other prop plane. It was interesting running out of “lake runway” as we climbed out and takeoff was quicker than I expected as well.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (14)

And yes, as you can see, there are a lot of small planes in and out of the water here. A mean a lot! 🙂

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (15)

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (16)

The water you see above is always this brown. I was told from the melt and sediment from the mountains and glaciers. In the top shot above say hello to Anchorage and little friend taking off from the runway near us on land.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (17)

The views from a small planes are just amazing. Neat to see many folks have  homes just across the water and fly in. Yes it is a short flight but still a flight nonetheless and you need a dock for your plane.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (1)

There is also, across from downtown Anchorage, a rather new HUGE jail. I was informed by the pilot, who shared a ton of fascinating bits along the ride, that it sat empty for 3 years as it was cheaper to house inmates in the lower 48. But now the jail is at last open with about 1/3 of the inmates it was built to hold. I must say the recreation facilities look great.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (2)

We flew over some decommissioned minuteman silos from the cold war that seem to now be a favorite spot for spray paint “artists” to express themselves.

view of where we can not go rusts flying service anc

In the distance above you see one of the mountains we will not be going near due to the winds. They were pretty strong in fact. We were bumped around a bunch but I was so geeked out by the views I hardly noticed. This was a very neat experience I must say.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (3)

Then it was time to head back and unfortunately so as I really was having way too much fun. If you click on the photo above and zoom in a bit you will see that is a Skyteam Korean Air 747 taking off from ANC. It looks so small in the photo but seemed much bigger in real life. I have to tell you ANC is like paradise for the 747 or “Queen Of The Skies”. Later, at the airport, I must have counted a full dozen in my view at one point (mostly cargo but still). Neat geek stuff.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (4)

Time to look forward to my first ever water landing. What would it be like? The winds were still very fresh and not the normal pattern for landings.

turn on final not landing on water runway rusts flying service

Notice the cut out takeoff and landing strip between the two lakes that is dotted with float planes as far as the eye could see. Think of this water airport as your own packed urban lake with hundreds of tiny boats – same thing just planes. But since we had these strong winds, and cross winds, we did this:

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (5)

We requested airspace above the international airport and swung wide and landed across the lake thus touching down right outside the port for Rust’s.

Landing was not what I expected. It was hard. Water looks so soft but it is not. I am not saying this knocked my fillings out or anything remotely like that just that it was not at all like a normal landing on tarmac. The pilot was outstanding and the landing was perfect. It is amazing how quickly you slow down once on the “ground” if you will. A very interesting experience.

RenesPoints review Rusts Flying Service Alaska ANC airport (7)

I have to tell you I had a completely amazing time. My only complaint was that it ended too soon and the winds were too strong for the Mt. Denali experience but that was hardly Rust’s fault. I will try to do that trip sometime in my life again. If you are an AVgeek like me, you want to try this. Plus, as mentioned, even if you only have a few hours in ANC you can make time for a short trip somewhere like I did.

If this is not your thing, right next door, is the Alaska flight museum. Looking for something quick to do on a layover then this could be another option and I will cover that review next weekend! – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

7 Comments

  1. I was supposed to do the Denali trip a couple months ago, but there was heavy rain that day and it was cancelled. But, I have another trip booked next May and hope that the weather cooperates.

  2. I was just in Juneau last week and saw these all over. Was wondering what it was like to fly in one. Thanks for sharing!

  3. To really experience a float plane ride. You need to be flying with 55 gallon barrels of gasoline in the plane with you. If you are a tourist the provider will not fly you with fly in camp supplies. But if you are a worker or own the camp you are staying you fly in and out with cargo.

    If you fly a float plane again ask the pilot to hot dog the landing. When they fly in a little faster the landings are a lot smoother.

    Old memories for me first float plane flight at age 10. I have over a 100 float flights in my lifetime.

  4. claire cates Reply

    Yes in Alaska, and since I’m a private pilot I got to sit right seat. The take off out of Lake Hood was great.

  5. Neat stuff Rene. Looking cool in your David Clark’s. Did you see any F-22s out of Elmendorf-Richardson?

    Yes, years ago my son and I took a float plane out of the base near ANC. I don’t think it was Rusty’s but a similar service. It was my one and only time on floats. I’m rated for single-engine land IFR operations, but the pilot, who was technically the pilot in command for the whole flight, let me fly on the way out and back and even let me take off from a small lake south of ANC. Btw, and as I probably should have expected, the technique for taking off on floats is very similar to the technique for a soft-field land takeoff.

    Later in our trip, my son and I took a flight from a paved runway in Talkeetna and circled Mt. Mckinley, now Denali. Our pilot lowered his skis and we also landed on a glacier. Float planes and bush pilots are a way of life in Alaska. There are few roads and paved runways in a big state but thousands of lakes that double as landing strips if you have a float plane. Anyone visiting Alaska ought to give it a try.

  6. The heck with sightseeing. The best reason to fly Rust or any other float plane is for a fly out fishing trip. Always outstanding!

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