Alaska is a huge state, and while there is an extensive ferry system and long roads, most of Alaska is only accessible by plane. Some commercial airlines provide access to remote villages like Bethel, Kotzebue, and King Salmon, but for many areas your only fly-in option is by bush plane. These little planes can land on gravel bars, lakes, and bare patches of ground; no control tower necessary. Many National Park Service units and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges have a list of approved operators to drop off people into these remote areas; whether for a hunt, a float trip, a hike or just flightseeing.
When chartering a flight out there are a few things to be aware of:
- Have a clear understanding of cost and charges before you take off. If you are hunting you will have to factor in the cost of hauling meat back. If you are on a float trip you will need to factor the weight of your gear. Chartering a flight can be more expensive than people anticipate.
- Be aware that weather can change your plans. Plan to carry a satellite phone with you to stay in contact with your pilot, as weather can delay your departure or pick-up by many days.
- When bringing bear spray, firearms, ammunition, and/or fuel on a flight, make sure to tell your pilot because there are special procedures for having hazardous materials even on bush planes.
- Be clear on your pick up destination! An agreed upon GPS point or known location on a map could circumvent a major miscommunication.
For more information read about Chartering Aircraft Into the Alaska Backcounty