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Thread: 21 yr old with a dream to fly in Alaska

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013

    Default 21 yr old with a dream to fly in Alaska

    Hello all!

    My name is Matt. I have always wanted to live in Alaska, and recently I have devoloped a severe interest in the idea of Alaskian avaition. I have little to no knowledge on flying and a simular amount on Alaska in gereral. This past summer I rode my bicycle across the continential US (3,800 miles) and next summer I am hoping to cycle to Alaska from my home in NJ to scope things out. (5,000 miles)
    Is it helpful to atend pilot school in Alaska as opposed to somewhere else?
    What kind of job availibily is there in this field? Or in any field for that matter?
    What is a normal amount of time for training to become an entry level pilot? And the cost?
    Is there particular flight schools that you would recomend?
    Is it difficult to start work imediately (in any field) upon moving from another state?

    Thanks alot in advance! More questions to come. This is the only forum I could find online that looked like it could be helpful!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    The real advantage to Alaska flight schools will be the "hangar flying", those student or instructor BS sessions that relate Alaska flying experiences. You won't find many opportunities to get flying jobs unless and until you have a commercial license and a few hundred (or a few thousand) hours on that ticket. Most pilots are able to get their private tickets in 50- or 60-hours, including both dual and solo time. The cost? Maybe $7,000 to $8,000, but others will have a better handle on that than I. Once here, visit the various flight schools and ask around for the "best" ones. And finally, anyone who is honest (that's a requirement!), hard working, and as a goal should do well while working on the flying time and ratings. And good luck with your dreams .............. !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    The FAA minimum pilot experience requirements to fly as PIC (pilot-in-command) under FARs Part 135 is 500 hours: Federal Aviation Regulation Sec. 135.243 - Pilot in command qualifications. ( 100 hours of that has to be cross-country time, and of that 100 hours, 25 hours has to be night cross country. Most Alaska operators require a minimum of 1000 hours. There are a few who will hire at less than that, but none for PIC positions without at least the legal minimum of 500 hours. Most operators also like to see some Alaska time or equivalent (mountain time) and some time in type. This is probably an insurance requirement. There are occasional co-pilot jobs that come up which require only the commercial, instrument and multi-engine certifications. Penair is one of those companies, but only very occasionally do they have to settle for a new SIC (second-in-command) with less than 500 hours TT. They require a two year employment contract and you barely make a living wage.

    Probably the best way to get a job flying in Alaska if you don't have at least a thousand hours or more is to move there and give flight instruction until you acquire the hours necessary. Anchorage would be a good starting point. Land & Sea Aviation (, sometimes hires flight instructors as there is a fairly steady turnover as pilot/flight instructors move on to air taxi jobs. The Aero Club at Elmendorf Airforce base also provides civilian flight instruction, and Artic's Air Academy in Palmer is another.

    So in my opinion, the best way to acquire flight time is to give flight instruction. You get paid to do it. You'll learn a whole lot more than you already know and you build flight time.

    The most commonly flown airtaxi airplanes on wheels in Alaska are Cessna 206s and 207s. There are also many DeHavilland Beavers in service, most of them on floats. There are many Piper Cherokee Sixes, a few Super Cubs in commercial use, a Maule or two, Cessna Caravans, standard Otters and turbine Otters and a few turbine Beavers. There are also many Cessna 185s and a few 180s and maybe even an occasional 182.

    The flying out of Anchorage during the summer is probably the most diversely scenic, although any operation that flies north of the Arctic Circle on a daily basis is great during the summer with lots of Brooks Range stuff great weather and many beautiful lakes (if you're on floats). Nevertheless, Anchorage is within a reasonable distance of a diverse range of terrain and geographical features. There is the Chugach Range just to the east of Anchorage and just beyond it, Prince William Sound. To the west is the Susitna River Valley, the Alaska Range, Mt. McKinley and passes through the range to the "far side." To the south is the Kenai Range and the Kenai Peninsula and all of the fjords and Bays on the Pacific Ocean side of the Kenai Peninsula. There is the Harding Ice Field towards the south end of the peninsula and then the town of Homer.

    Across from Anchorage and south along the west side of Cook Inlet is more of the Alaska Range including several volcanos (Mt. Spurr, Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Augustine). Lower Cook Inlet is spectacular and unpopulated. So, in my opinion, the most diverse Alaskan territory available on a daily flying basis is best accessed from Anchorage. One exception for amazing wilderness scenery is, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park but with few airtaxi operations from which to fly.

    Most of the single-engine flying out of Anchorage is seasonal and tourism/fishing/hunting related. Tourism related flying is fun, and interesting if you are a people person with a gift of gab. Tips can be good, but I prefer more work related flying in Alaska where tourism and the requisite good weather are not a daily requirement.

    Bethel is a great place to start as a low-time pilot because it is a year 'round job and does not involve tourism. Flying out of Bethel is actually busiest during the fall winter and spring months. The flying there can be intimidating to a new pilot with its whiteouts, fog and wind, but taken incrementally, the skills required to be an effective pilot in that neck of the woods, or anywhere in Alaska for that matter, can be slowly acquired until what may once have been scary, is no longer an adrenaline producing ordeal. The advent of GPS has also added to the ease of navigation although the skills required for pilotage and dead reckoning should be kept honed and ready.

  4. #4
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Kachemak Bay Alaska


    Number One:
    Since you have no flight time, take some lessons where-ever you can and see how much you like it...
    Out of my 5 kids, only 3 liked flying... even the one who was trained as a helicopter avionics tech decided he hated flying after 40 hours or so...
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member


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