Posted on May 15, 2013 under General, Trip Planning Resources
3 Tips for Safe Flying in Alaska

We spend much of our summer loading and unloading “bush planes” for trips into the most remote portions of Alaska. If you are joining one of our guided wilderness trips in Alaska, we will take care of arranging safe and efficient flights for you. If you choose to do a trip on your own, here are three tips to keep you safe and your pilot happy on your next wilderness adventure.

Alaska bush planeAlaska plane ready for loading

1) Don’t overload your plane. I know it seems like the extra 5 pounds won’t matter, but it does.

These weights (in pounds) are a good reference points for packing. Remember that aircraft capacity varies hugely depending on fuel-load, length of strip, quality of strip, temperature, etc. Consult with your pilot before the trip and never ask your pilot to overload the plane.

  • Beaver (wheels): 1100-1250
  • Helio: 750
  • C-185 (wheels): 750
  • C-185 (floats): 625
  • Beaver (floats): 1100- 1400
  • Otter (floats): 2200
  • C-206 (wheels): 900- 1100

flying in AlaskaAlaska Bush Plane

2) Pack hazardous materials carefully and tell your pilot about them. Bear-Spray, Fuel and Firearms all require special precautions.

  • Pack your pepper-spray in a clear water-tight bag and make sure you show it to your pilot. Most pilots want pepper-spray on the outside of the airplane. All of them want to know where the pepper-spray is so they can handle it appropriately.
  • Fire-arms should ALWAYS be unloaded prior to flights.
  • Ask your pilot how best to secure your fuel and remember that pressurized fuel is not allowed on some flights.

3) Plan for delays. Your pilot will work hard to get you where you want to go in a timely manner. You can make everyone’s life easier and more relaxed by planning for the inevitable delays associated with small plane travel. Leave yourself 48 hours after a pick-up before you try to fly out of state or need to be somewhere important. Especially in the fall you should expect delays. Carry a good book and your binoculars so you can make good use of the time you have waiting for your flight.

By packing carefully and communicating clearly with your pilot you can ensure that flying into your next rafting, backpacking, or canoe trip will be almost as much fun as the wilderness trip its self.

Happy Packing, Stay Safe, and Have Fun!

by Michael Wald