Thorne Bay, Alaska
For those who love Alaska, miss Alaska, have lived there, or want to live there, this is for you. If you live there, you already experience this every day—I know, I spent twenty years in remote Alaska, but even the urban areas have planes overhead all day long, weather permitting.
The ducks in the foreground remind me of the abundant wildlife Alaska offers its residents. The wispy clouds on the mountainside hang overhead throughout the day. Whoever is about to board this de Havilland Beaver commuter floatplane is lucky the fog isn’t socking them in for another hour or two. The partially exposed rocks at the beginning of the clip tell me it is mid-tide on Prince of Wales Island.
Listen to the sounds of the engine, the splashing water as the pontoons touchdown, and the Beaver’s classic rooster tail spray before it slows to a taxi—all sounds of the morning, afternoon, and evening. The scene and its color, or lack of, in the video, represent an average day in southeast Alaska.
Now, for the rest of the story.
Commuter planes are relied on to bring in groceries, freight, and passengers. In Thorne Bay, they provide quick transportation to the Ketchikan, as opposed to driving across the island for an all-day trip by ferry out of Hollis. A former student is a bush pilot up north, and I asked him, “What is the most interesting thing you have ever transported to the bush?”
He thought for a moment and replied, “A sled dog team. I looked back and saw passengers on each side of the plane and dogs lined up in the middle.” Wow. I can imagine that.