Earlier, when I checked my email, I found a message from a former student who recently graduated. Like the graduates before him, it was time for him to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, starting with his first job.
Somewhere along the way, someone suggested he should look into flying in Alaska. I wish I had some Alaskan flying experience to lend credibility to my writing about Alaska, but all I can say about flying in Alaska with any certainty is that it is cold. When we took off on cruise, the ship traversed the Gulf of Alaska and we rocked and rolled in rough seas with water temperatures in the mid-forties.
(Found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGPy_–rzSc.)
We did not relish the thought of trying to fly wearing our dry-suits, or as we called them, “poopie suits.” We were thankful the decision not to fly came down from on high. While disappointed at losing the chance to see the Alaskan coastline from afar, I was glad I would not have to fight getting into my cold water dry-suit and then sweating in it though a 1+45 cycle.
I have been lucky enough to fly in several places around the world, in different environments and different airplanes. Thinking back over my career, I think of the two things I should have accomplished a long time ago, that I have not yet done. One was to acquire my seaplane rating and the other is flying in Alaska.
I can still get my seaplane rating relatively easily. All it takes is a little time—and a lot more money than it did earlier in my career. Flying Alaska, on the other hand, might now be an impossibility. I cannot tolerate cold as I could when I was a kid. I often joke with my students, telling them that as a “Florida-boy” I can no longer fly north of Jacksonville from Oct 1 to April 30. When the outside air temp goes south of 69 degrees F, I just can’t handle it.
And even though it might be cold, sometimes I think, Maybe I should head to Alaska–just for one summer. The pull is there, I can feel it. Every now and then, it becomes almost irresistible.
It would be quite a trip I am sure. I am also sure it would be expensive. Avgas alone would run, what? Let me check my wiz wheel… 4000 miles one way, 8000 total divided by an average GS of 90 knots … Umhh … 88.9 flying hours at 6.7 gph times the flight time equals 595.6 gallons at an average of what? $5.95 per gallon? $3544 in gas just to get there and back.
And I am sure not going to sit around while I am there … Better throw in another two or three grand of money just to fly around the local area after arrival and before departure.
There is also the question of rebuilding the airplane with a new engine and instruments for the trip. Should not cost us more than another—$25,000 or so. So let’s see, $25,000 plus another $6500 for gas, 60 days on the road at about $100 per day—yep, $55,000 to $60,000 ought to do it! Oh yeah, throw in another $20,000 for a set of used floats for the airplane.
Oh, I forgot to mention I would still have to get that seaplane rating—another $1200.
©2012 J. Clark
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