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Thread: Advice for someone doing his first fly-in trip?

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    Default Advice for someone doing his first fly-in trip?

    Hi all- Doing an article for the Alaska Sporting Journal on Alaska fly-in trips, and could use some good advice for people coming up to do a Bush flight. What's the most common mistake newbies make, how can they make their flying experience go smoother, etc. Any and all help appreciated. TIA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ANCguy View Post
    Hi all- Doing an article for the Alaska Sporting Journal on Alaska fly-in trips, and could use some good advice for people coming up to do a Bush flight. What's the most common mistake newbies make, how can they make their flying experience go smoother, etc. Any and all help appreciated. TIA.
    Make flight schedules and preparations with your pilot or dlight service in advance. Bring (wear) adequate clothing for a bush experience, and bring your own hand-held GPS and aviation Sectional Chart(s) if at all possible so that you can follow along during your flight(s).

    And do enjoy magnificent Alaska !!!

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    Here's one: Don't be the wise guy who loads 40 pounds of crap in all his pockets and around his neck because the cub has a 60 pound max baggage. Then he's thinking he's pulling a fast one.......??? I saw that advice actually given on this hunting forum, I believe.

    1. The pilot has already seen that trick 25 times........this season.
    2. You are not smarter that the laws of physics NOR gravity.
    2a. In a cub you will die about .2 sec after the pilot you "outsmarted" if the airplane doesn't fly in time.
    3. Maybe a reason the baggage limit is that low is because most hunters that come up are 30+ pounds overweight. Get in shape. Average person is supposedly 180 pounds. Smart way to look at it: Whatever you weigh over that, you took out of your comfort equipment. May have to leave the cot and big stove at home......OR charter a larger aircraft.


    That's mostly tongue in cheek with sarcasm topping it off.

    Really is a pet peeve tho. Hunters/outdoorsmen should understand that the max baggage allowed isn't random. AND typically we as humans will load 110 pounds of crap in if there is a 100 pound limit. Me too. Realize the farther you are below the weight the more options the pilot has when things go bad.
    IE I can manipulate a cub around easier with a 180 pound client and 50 pounds of gear than Fatty McTurkeyhunter with his 100 pounds of camp.

    You will probably want to re-word that if you use it in a magazine......

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    Don't be the wise guy who loads 40 pounds of crap in all his pockets and around his neck because the cub has a 60 pound max baggage.
    Funny thing is, that's precisely the advice I have gotten directly from the owner/pilots of two of my fly ins. 50# pack limit in the back. If you can stuff the rest in your pockets we are good to go as long as we don't go over gross. 150# guy with 40# on his body is still lighter than me by 60 lbs Yep, I know I need to lose weight

    Anyhow, I agree with your premise and it goes beyond the weight issues.

    My one and only experience with a non-resident hunting with me on a fly-in resulted in a couple things that other non-resident hunters need to realize. When they say 50# in your pack they mean it. If you don't like it just pony up the money for a gear flight. If they say you are too heavy because you shot your limit of caribou for the whole group, you are too heavy. Suck it up and pay for a meat flight.

    Transporters can't scout for you. Don't ask them to do it. They are paid and regulated to fly you from point A to point B. That's it.

    Just because it's clear outside doesn't mean the weather is good for flying. Most cub strips are one way and if the wind is blowing even 20 mph you can be screwed. Bring a book, bring a bunch of books, and relax. You might end up waiting a couple days just to get out into the field.

    Weather issues will also crop up on the other end of your hunt. I never expect to get picked up on my pick-up date. In fact, the last four fly-ins I have been on have resulted in late pickups due to weather every time. The air taxi could care less if you have a flight to Chicago 12 hrs. after your pick-up time in the field. If it's unsafe to fly, or even if they are backed up from previous bad weather, they are not going to come get you. Don't whine. Enjoy your time out there and relax. Also, due yourself a favor and book your commercial flight home 3 days after you expect to be flown out of the field. It gives you time to do proper meat care and enjoy a little time in Alaska not hunting.

    Lastly, don't expect to shoot an animal. Most non-residents fail to realize that animal densities in AK are far below that of the Lower 48. You may see no animals for days.

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    Too funny! At 6'5 and 250+ on most scales I pretty much plan to go Helio, C180/206 or beaver. Just shoving myself into a cub is a challenge! I have light gear so a short flight where gas can be cut to up the payload I could do but a long cub flight isn't likely to be in the cards. Steps can be taken to get most anyone in the mountains especially if you dont have to land on top of the sheep. I just plan to either fly in to a major strip and get ferried or make sure my boots are ready to cover the ground between me and my destination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK-HUNT View Post
    Here's one: Don't be the wise guy who loads 40 pounds of crap in all his pockets and around his neck because the cub has a 60 pound max baggage.
    I have done several SuperCub hunts and I too have been told to place items in my pockets. It is all about center of gravity. If you move that 40lbs of stuff from the pax seat to the cargo bay you have moved the CG way aft and that is what gets you in trouble fast. I do agree not to try to BS about total weight, but as long as you stay within load limits and properly place the load as not to get CG out of limits you are still safe to fly. I'm a pilot as well and understand both loading and CG, get the CG too far aft and you can stall and be unable to get the nose down to recover.

    Bottom line trust your pilot and listen to what they say is safe.

    Steve
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    My best suggestion is find a diminutive hunting partner that can haul his body weight in gear. If I go super cub I will do it with one of my 140lb buddies and just send most of my stuff in their lap.

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    The biggest mistake that i see is that some people dont do there homework and are not prepaird for all the things that can go wrong..
    Find out everything you can about everything, your flight, waight limit's where you are going, and the game that you are hunting.
    Find a good list most flight service's have a web page on just what to bring. I have seen people bring 200 pounds of gear over what they can bring and here the pilot say ok guys It's going to be two trips or get rid of the extra waight.
    The other thing is like Akdoug said dont plan on being picked up on time don't have your return ticket within two days of the day they supost to pick you up. A open return ticket would be the best bet. The other thing is your flight might not depart on time I have seen people waighting a couple of days to get out and people book a 3 day hunt. people just don't get it you haft to allow for the unknowns.
    There is alot of what if's in booking a fly in hunt somewhere If you are ready and plan for everything it will workout fine....

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    ANCguy doesn't specify fly-in "hunting" in his question. Nor does he specify fly-in with a supercub. There are also fly-in fishing trips to lodges from which fly-out fishing is a daily occurrence for the guests of the lodge. There are also fly-out bear-viewing excursions to bush locations, fly-out river rafting with landings in remote head-water locations with pickups many miles down stream, clam diggers going for razor clams on ocean beaches with big tides, and there are also scenic air tours with landings in remote locations. I have even hauled first-time-to-Alaska would-be gold seekers to a remote ocean beach location with all of their equipment (more than one flight in a beaver to transport it all). Less than a week later, they had an SOS PICK US UP signal dug into the sand and had been totally thwarted by and unprepared for a two day early fall storm with heavy rain and winds exceeding 80 kts.


    Weight constraints and limitations are important on any kind of a bush excursion by bush plane. But most commercial air taxi operators who fly hunters, fishermen, sight see-ers, rafters, bear viewers etc. utilize airplanes larger than a supercub which can be any of the following: Cessna 180, 185, 206, DeHavilland Beavers, Piper Cherokee sixes (mostly southeast), a few may utilize a Helio Courier.

    As an air taxi pilot in Alaska for more than 3 decades, I found only a few things annoying about newbies heading into the bush.
    1. Don't drown yourself in perfume or cologne before boarding a small plane.
    2. Dont pack your belongings in a hard shell suitcase, use a soft duffel bag.
    3. Don't carry bear spray in your luggage or on your person. If you're in a float plane it needs to be tucked away in a float compartment, not the passenger cabin. In a wheel plane, tell the pilot and he will provide an airtight container or have you leave it.
    4. If you're a fly fisherman, try to avoid using an 8 foot long by 6 to 8 inches wide rod container. They don't fit well in small planes.
    5. If you start feeling queasy on a flight, have an air sickness bag handy. Puking in your lap or on the floor is a bad option.
    6. Be sure to use the bathroom prior to departure if you have a small bladder. There are no really viable options for finding a place to urinate in a small plane. Avoid drinking lots of coffee or beer before you depart.
    7. If you're a pilot yourself, try to avoid acting as if you know more about flying than your pilot does, because you very likely don't in an Alaska bush flying environment, even if you fly 747s, F-18s or are a private pilot with 80 hours total flight time all in a 172.

    Regardless of what sort of a bush trip you might be planning, it can be important to research the operator/flying service you intend to use. There have been at least three commercial operators in the recent past who were shut down because of unsafe practice and FAA violations. The internet is a good source for researching information - testimonials, violations and complaints regarding any commercial operator. Nevertheless, take any complaints you may find online with a grain of salt. You can please all of the people some of the time, but not all of the time.

    If you expect to be in the bush for several days, carry an emergency location device of some sort that can turned on so that rescue people can find you.

    If you expect to be in the bush for several days or even less during spring and fall weather changes, be prepared for a much longer stay due to possible extended bad weather, especially in coastal regions.

    Be adequately prepared for mosquitoes during the summer months.

    If you're being dropped off along the coast somewhere, have a tide table booklet with you and arrange for your pickup (wheels or floats) during a suitable stage of the tide. Some of Alaska's tides (Cook Inlet) fluctuate through 36 feet...some of the biggest fluctuations on the planet. Don't get mired down somewhere in sticky sucking low-tide silt with a fast incoming tide.

    Research your trip and consider everything you can think of in preparation for your vist to or stay in the bush. Read about other peoples Alaska adventures for more insight.

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    Awesome response- thanks! And you're right- the article isn't just about hunting, it's for any kind of fly-in, although most of the guys in this market will be hunters and fishermen. Thanks again- I appreciate the help!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monguse View Post
    ANCguy doesn't specify fly-in "hunting" in his question. Nor does he specify fly-in with a supercub. There are also fly-in fishing trips to lodges from which fly-out fishing is a daily occurrence for the guests of the lodge. There are also fly-out bear-viewing excursions to bush locations, fly-out river rafting with landings in remote head-water locations with pickups many miles down stream, clam diggers going for razor clams on ocean beaches with big tides, and there are also scenic air tours with landings in remote locations. I have even hauled first-time-to-Alaska would-be gold seekers to a remote ocean beach location with all of their equipment (more than one flight in a beaver to transport it all). Less than a week later, they had an SOS PICK US UP signal dug into the sand and had been totally thwarted by and unprepared for a two day early fall storm with heavy rain and winds exceeding 80 kts.


    Weight constraints and limitations are important on any kind of a bush excursion by bush plane. But most commercial air taxi operators who fly hunters, fishermen, sight see-ers, rafters, bear viewers etc. utilize airplanes larger than a supercub which can be any of the following: Cessna 180, 185, 206, DeHavilland Beavers, Piper Cherokee sixes (mostly southeast), a few may utilize a Helio Courier.

    As an air taxi pilot in Alaska for more than 3 decades, I found only a few things annoying about newbies heading into the bush.
    1. Don't drown yourself in perfume or cologne before boarding a small plane.
    2. Dont pack your belongings in a hard shell suitcase, use a soft duffel bag.
    3. Don't carry bear spray in your luggage or on your person. If you're in a float plane it needs to be tucked away in a float compartment, not the passenger cabin. In a wheel plane, tell the pilot and he will provide an airtight container or have you leave it.
    4. If you're a fly fisherman, try to avoid using an 8 foot long by 6 to 8 inches wide rod container. They don't fit well in small planes.
    5. If you start feeling queasy on a flight, have an air sickness bag handy. Puking in your lap or on the floor is a bad option.
    6. Be sure to use the bathroom prior to departure if you have a small bladder. There are no really viable options for finding a place to urinate in a small plane. Avoid drinking lots of coffee or beer before you depart.
    7. If you're a pilot yourself, try to avoid acting as if you know more about flying than your pilot does, because you very likely don't in an Alaska bush flying environment, even if you fly 747s, F-18s or are a private pilot with 80 hours total flight time all in a 172.

    Regardless of what sort of a bush trip you might be planning, it can be important to research the operator/flying service you intend to use. There have been at least three commercial operators in the recent past who were shut down because of unsafe practice and FAA violations. The internet is a good source for researching information - testimonials, violations and complaints regarding any commercial operator. Nevertheless, take any complaints you may find online with a grain of salt. You can please all of the people some of the time, but not all of the time.

    If you expect to be in the bush for several days, carry an emergency location device of some sort that can turned on so that rescue people can find you.

    If you expect to be in the bush for several days or even less during spring and fall weather changes, be prepared for a much longer stay due to possible extended bad weather, especially in coastal regions.

    Be adequately prepared for mosquitoes during the summer months.

    If you're being dropped off along the coast somewhere, have a tide table booklet with you and arrange for your pickup (wheels or floats) during a suitable stage of the tide. Some of Alaska's tides (Cook Inlet) fluctuate through 36 feet...some of the biggest fluctuations on the planet. Don't get mired down somewhere in sticky sucking low-tide silt with a fast incoming tide.

    Research your trip and consider everything you can think of in preparation for your vist to or stay in the bush. Read about other peoples Alaska adventures for more insight.
    Outstanding post!!! Great information and advice.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    http://www.residenthuntersofalaska.org/

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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I have done several SuperCub hunts and I too have been told to place items in my pockets. It is all about center of gravity. If you move that 40lbs of stuff from the pax seat to the cargo bay you have moved the CG way aft and that is what gets you in trouble fast. I do agree not to try to BS about total weight, but as long as you stay within load limits and properly place the load as not to get CG out of limits you are still safe to fly. I'm a pilot as well and understand both loading and CG, get the CG too far aft and you can stall and be unable to get the nose down to recover.

    Bottom line trust your pilot and listen to what they say is safe.

    Steve
    I have personally told guys I can take them and 50 pounds into strip X. They show up with 60 pound pack and 40 pounds of crap on them. Happened than once. It doesn't have much to do with stalling so much at getting in and out of 300' or so safely with a load. (It is NOT all about CG. That's part of it.) As stated earlier many times you are dealing with a one way or rough or winds or otherwise squirrely piece of rock. The gross of the airplane and the numbers in the POH are not normally the limfac in that scenario. I have operated in and out of strips that one can't SAFELY land without perfect conditions and customers sometimes don't understand that.

    My point was exactly what you said lastly.
    "Trust you pilot and listen to what they say is safe."
    Well said.

    If he tells you to pack all your crap on you, then there you go.
    He's trying to go home to his kids at the end of the day, not ripping you off.

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    my pet peeve is when the guy shows up with his shiny new frame backpack stuffed completely full and then ties on his shoes, sleeping bag, air mattress, and kitchen sink to the outside of the pack. He then grumbles because I ask him to untie all the outside gear so I can fit it into the plane.

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    #1 piece of advice for those new to remote Alaska: Test your gear as thoroughly as possible before heading afield. No, you probably can't replicate Alaska conditions in an Illinois cornfield, but do everything within your power to make sure your gear is as waterproof as you hope, as insulating as you hope, and as packable as you hope. Don't assume that because you got it at Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop, or Sportsman's Warehouse that it will withstand the rigors of an Alaskan storm. There is plenty of adequate gear out there, but make sure you use it and are familiar with it before the sound of that airplane fades in the distance.

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    AKHUNTER makes a good point. Flying in a Cub is a special deal. I put all my crap into two lightweight nylon bags (Tag bags last time), with my sleeping bag seperate and leave my external frame pack empty. Makes life a lot easier for everybody.

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    And when you call ahead to make your reservations, don't give the weight you were back in high-school, 25 years ago...
    I can't count all the 175 pound people who showed up really being 240 lbs before they put on clothes.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    Heck I was 240 back in high school.

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    Here's another thing, from an old Army Helicopter pilot. Plan to crash, When you pack your loads pack so that if you go down or are the first one dropped and the pilot can't make it back you have food, shelter and weapon. Also on that note stuff your pockets with a few proteen and power bars and wear your pistol and put some ammo in your pocket (a few bird shots rounds also). Please note I'm not encouraging stuffing your entire camp in your pockets. The reason for this is, in the event of a crash you may end up with whats on you. If you have filled your pockets so you look like the michland guy you might not be able to get out of the plane or be able to swim if your in the water.

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    That made me think....
    Older gentleman who used to own local air taxi always said "wear what you want to crash in". Pretty solid advice, right? Well, he would wear a winter parka and heavy boots for fall flying work. Window open to keep cool. I'm not that hard, I guess but if you live like he did you would survive the nights comfortably.

    On a related note, a passenger of a cub that biffed it a few falls ago survived for that very reason. Pilot died, plane caught fire. Alive because he could start little fires every night. (in rain/snow) Had knives and lighters on him. Everything that was not on him was GONE. Some of what was on him was gone too....burnt in fire..

    "wear what you want to crash in"

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    Or at lest clothing that will let you wait out an extra night of bad weather.

    A couple years ago I was bringing another S.C. pilot from "point A" back to his plane and we had to stop and wait out the night due to low fog at our intended destination. So we sat on a mountain lake all night long,, along with a couple million mosquitoes.
    For some reason he was only wearing shorts, flip-flops, and a short sleeve shirt. (That is how he flies his Cub) And the day pack he had with him only had his camera gear.
    He did not have a pleasant evening and was about a quart low the next afternoon.
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