Grinning Down on Alaska

View of Alaska Mountains from JetAlaska Mountains Near Ketchikan

The first view many people have of Alaska appears through a jet window and looks similar to this photo. When I flew into the state in April 1995, I grinned ear-to-ear through an Alaska Airlines window at the snow-covered mountaintops. Little did I know that view would become routine as I traveled to and from the Last Frontier over the next twenty years.

Jets bring passengers to hub communities such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage, Dillingham, Cold Bay, Bethel, Fairbanks, and Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow). Some of these communities are small; Dillingham has 2,203 residents, while the tiny town of Cold Bay has 68. Hub communities offer bush plane services to remote locations like Nelson Lagoon in the Aleutians and Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island, where I spent my time in the state.

Flying in Alaska by jet or commuter bush plane can cause sweaty palms and trembling hands in bad weather for visitors and tenderfeet—new Alaskans. Truth be known, if the weather is bad enough, even sourdoughs fidget in their seats while watching out the window. My eyes were glued to the window on many scary flights searching for the nearest place to land or the closest island or boat should we go down in the water—and there is a lot of water in southeast Alaska, where I lived for 18 years. Fortunately, most of my flights were in seaplanes with pontoons or floats, allowing them plenty of landing options.

Now, for the rest of the Alaska story.

The calm water in the pictures below indicates low wind and a peaceful flight filled with sightseeing. As a local, I enjoyed seeing my world from the air. Most remote Alaska does not have road access, though Prince of Wales Island has more than its fair share of logging roads giving residents plenty of exploring opportunities. These mountain and coastal roads meander around the island, but the highway of the sky allows passengers to grin down on Alaska.

Prince of Wales Island from the Air
Prince of Wales Island
View of Prince of Wales Island from Bush Plane
View from Commuter Flight Near Klawock, AK

Other Alaska Bush Life Posts on Flying

Alaska Floatplane in a Blizzard – A floatplane arrives in Thorne Bay during a blizzard, flying close to a barge and tug boat.

Flying in Alaska – Review flying options on Prince of Wales Island and the impact of Island Air Express providing commuter service by wheel plane.

Southeast Alaska Life – A Typical Day – Residents in remote Alaska rely on bush flights such as this de Havilland Beaver commuter floatplane landing in the foggy bay near Thorne Bay, Alaska.