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–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

Subscribe by email

Note: Email subscribers, please go to my blog to view vids


This entry was posted in Aviation, Flying, Life in General, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Alaska

  1. Jeanne says:

    Nice to dream about new adventures. Getting my seaplane rating was on my to do list for this past summer. It never quite happened. We live on 200 acre lake that would work for landing a plane. Maybe this summer. My hubby and I plan to go on a mission trip to Alaska in the next couple of years. It would be great to get up flying while we are there.

  2. Joe Clark says:


    Back in 1971 when I learned how to fly, the seaplane rating was $75–that included 5 hours of instruction, 1 hour for the checkride, and the examiner’s fee. To today, the price is typically over $1000 for about four hours of dual instruction, checkride and examiner’s fee extra.

    Wished I had done it a long time ago…


  3. Robert Nelson says:

    It is not an impossibility to fly AK. I flew all over northwest AK for about 10 years. It’s great. You don’t have to have floats and “when there’s a will there’s a way”. Flying AK is another world then the Lower ’48, especially remote AK. You can still land on roads, lake beds, etc…lot’s of fun. I would bet you could find someone willing to pay to have a plane ferried from the Lower 48 to AK. Rent a plane or buy a plane up there and sell it before returning home. If you really want to do something, think of ways to do it not reasons why you can’t.

    • Joe Clark says:

      Good morning, Robert! I like the way you think. I agree, it is not an impossibility, it can be done, it is just more “difficult” in these modern times of higher costs, more regulation and other commitments. I like your idea of ferrying airplanes though. I have often thought about doing that as a part time job and at one time, I looked into working for Globe Aero LTD in Lakeland when they were really busy delivering airplanes to Europe and Africa.

Leave a Reply to Jeanne Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.