A plane perspective

by • July 8, 2013 • ApresComments (0)868

Flightseeing is a great way to see the real Alaska


A small plane is one of the best ways to see Alaska from a new perspective. Courtesy Nicole Geils

A small plane is one of the best ways to see Alaska from a new perspective. Courtesy Nicole Geils

On July 3, 1913, Capt. James Martin got a perspective on The Last Frontier that, up until that time, had been exclusive to eagles and ravens. Martin looked down on the land from the controls of the first flight in Alaska. A lot has changed since that first takeoff, but seeing Alaska from the air remains special. Mark this milestone and get a big helping of Alaska adventure; here are three ways.


Take to the Air

If you’ve flown a commercial plane over Alaska on a clear day, you’ve seen a sampling of the majestic mountains and amazing waterways that line flight paths here. Alaska has more pilots per capita than any other state and one of the greatest concentrations of small airplanes, so why not make the most of both? Flightseeing trips take off from Lake Hood in Anchorage bound for Mount McKinley or the glaciers that dot the Chugach Mountains. Who needs in-flight peanuts? Land on Lake George to view Colony Glacier and be back in Anchorage in time for lunch.


Time in the Cockpit

Think you can take the controls? Strap in to a simulator and prove it. The Alaska Aviation Museum is the perfect place to spend a little time behind the throttle. The museum’s dedicated volunteers restore historic aircraft to airworthy condition; many of the planes on display are ready to fly or are awaiting renovation. The last plane restored at the museum was a 1931 Fairchild Pilgrim. Done up in bright red, the old cargo plane is one of the few aircraft listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More details can be found at alaskaairmuseum.org.


Aviation History, Alaska Style

Alaska’s history and way of life owe a lot to the airplane; Norwegian dirigibles, pioneering mail route pilots, wartime fighter aces and Jet Age business have all helped shape the state. The Anchorage Museum’s Arctic Flight exhibit chronicles pioneers of flight in Alaska and is on display through mid-August. From relics of the Aleutian campaign and the Lend-Lease Program that shipped planes to the Soviets during World War II, this exhibit holds surprises even for aviation buffs. More details can be found at anchoragemuseum.org.


Blue Sky Views

If you tire of propellers and pilots, there’s a peaceful place with an overlooked aviation connection: Delaney Park on the edge of downtown Anchorage. The park’s peculiar dimensions (one block wide but 11 blocks long) are due to its original use. Before Anchorage built a real runway, the park strip was the de facto airport. The roar of radial engines has been replaced by the lazy flutter of kites on the breeze and the sounds of sports being played on nearby ball fields. Why not stake out a picnic spot? You can gaze at the Alaska sky, just like Capt. Martin.

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