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