Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Alaska Transportation III -- quiet interlude

Many people in Alaska own airplanes. As I believe I said before, in the Mat-Su borough alone, there is one airplane for every 128 persons (I am quoting from memory, so maybe that's 148, 157 or 123. It's somewhere around there, OK?) and that is an astoundlingly large number. Few roads, long distances. A little down the road from me, on a little-used road, is one of these owners:
A cloudy, cool morning in Alaska. An idyllic, iconic Alaska scene. This gentleman is only 30 Km from Anchorage as the crow (or the Piper Cub) flies. So he can get there in a quarter hour. It takes me two hours by road. Almost enough to make me wish I had kept up with my flying lessons long ago.

It is, however, expensive to fly. Assuming you have your pilot's license and you FAA physical up to date, there is the small matter of insurance, and the not-so-small matter of aircraft maintenance. And the very large matter of weather. In winter, of course, you put skis on your plane and land on the ice. Well, no you don't. Are you a certified airframe mechanic? I thought not. Go find a CAFM to put your skis on. By the way, have you been checked out on skis by a certified instuctor pilot? No? Then you mustn't land on ice, either. I know a PhD physicist who got all the certificates. He does all his own work and his plane costs him very little. But he must be one in a million!

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