Sent from my iPhone
Sent from my iPhone
It is difficult to determine depth in this photo but I am about 2000′ off the ground. Each crevasse is large enough to swallow a Buick or ten. It’s humbling to realize the scale of these glaciers. This is the Tazlina Glacier and it’s approximately 2 miles wide and 20 miles long. She is a real beauty. The weather near the Tazlina is extreme, regularly blowing more than 50 mph with temperatures reaching to -40 in the winter. Speaking of cold and wind, I hope you are all staying warmer than I am during this Christmas season. It is currently 11 degrees and blowing more than 50 mph. I just went up on the roof of the hangar to re-attach some DuPont roof-liner and … it was scary.
Hey, there are only a few calendars in stock so order today if you want one. There will be more calendars arriving next week, but I cannot guarantee how long they will stay in stock.
I believe everything is in stock except XL t-shirts and XXL hoodies, but more are on the way.
My wonderful mother is my shipping department during the Christmas season and she always does an awesome job. With on-line orders increasing each year it has been an interesting beast to tackle. Shipping out of Alaska is expensive, we do our best on the price and often end up eating some of the expense our selves, but … what should we expect living this far north :o)
These photos were taken on September 9th. The leaves were still on the trees, which always makes for some awesome colors. Nearly 3 months have passed since these photos were taken and there is less snow on the ground now than what is pictured. It’s been a long time since we’ve have had a winter this dry. I remember back in the mid-90’s we had a similar stretch, but it certainly is not good for anything but ice skating. I am hoping for a white Christmas …. that is a pathetic thing to “hope” for when you live in Alaska, it should be a given. Well, if I get too desperate I can always go back and look at my photos from September.
It doesn’t look challenging, it looks like a huge airstrip with a tiny bit of snow. I could try to be cool, and say, “ya, it was no big deal”, but the truth is … it was hard work. The runway is plenty long enough, but it’s a one way landing because of that mountain dominating the uphill end. One way airstrips are standard …. it just means you’ve gotta get it right the first time. It’s not a rough strip but it’s not exactly smooth either. There are 3 lazy humps that wait eagerly to exercise the spring steel landing gear of my gross weight Cessna 185 diminishing my Cessna 185 to a three legged pogo stick.
This particular job had me earning my pay. The runway is about 30 feet wide which is a mammoth compared to most of our strips, but with nil braking, and a 15 mph crosswind I made it a point to set down on the upwind side of the runway knowing I was going to drift as I rolled out. This was a good choice because the wind had me nipping at the edges of the downwind ditch, by the time I got the pig stopped. When the tires have no traction there is really nothing you can do to prevent drift except stop the bird before you run out of runway width, because performing a sliding crab in a gross weight taildragger is a really poor idea. I learned on landing #1 that the brakes were my enemy and not my friend. Applying pressure to the brakes offered absolutely no response whatsoever until one tire would grip the rocks beneath the snow and kick the plane slightly sideways, the opposing brake would offer no correction as it slid on top of the snow and toward the ditch. Only with excessive use of the throttle and some fancy footwork did I avoid a total disaster on my first arrival. I made 18 fully loaded trips into this strip over a 4 day period, and there were a few exciting moments. I went home at the end of each day to eat nachos, drink a beer, and think about slippery, heavy, windy landings.
The 2013 Blue Ice Aviation calendars are up for sale on the website! Click Here to go to the website and buy yours now!
So it’s pathetic that this photo is only a couple of months old and I cant even remember what I was doing. I think I was picking somebody up, I just remember lots of rain this past fall, but it must have snowed at some point too, unless I photo-shopped in the snow, but I don’t remember doing that either. It’s like any job, you do so much of it each and every day that you cannot remember each trip. Anyways, I like the photo and the metadata tells me that this was September 7th. In fact I think this photo is in my 2013 calendar which I will display on the blog this week, and I hope to sell a whole bunch of them. You can order them off the web-sight right now, but we will just call this a “sneak peak”. I love the yellow and red on the hillside beside the plane. 12 degrees and blowing 35 mph currently in Wasilla.
The airplane in this image hides from first glances but becomes apparent within a few seconds. The fact that the Super Cub is allegedly passing from snow covered mountains to bare ground could almost be symbolic of the changing seasons or something. But, I am not that poetic and plus the current seasonal transition is doing just the opposite. The ground out-side is white with snow, and more in the forecast. I am optimistic that we are going to have another good winter with lots of snow at all elevations. I don’t live in Alaska for mamby-pamby little half-hearted winters, I live here because I love the extreme weather, so let’s get this party started.
This photo shows the only sunny day we had this fall. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not far from the truth. In fact, it was likely raining or blowing 40 mph within hours of this photo being taken. Alaskans received the most unbelievably horrific stretch of weather I have ever seen in Alaska. None the less … this was definitely a beautiful morning.
The reason I landed on this gravel bar was to drop off a wrangler with a saddle and a coffee can full of grain. Their horses had bolted out of moose camp the previous day, and had only stopped because of they were afraid of getting wet whilst swimming the river. Fortunately I could land on the same gravel bar where the horses were standing, unfortunately they only left me 230′ to work with. It was manageable but it’s the sort of landing that I earn my money on. I had to fly short final in a low turn over the river and in-between spruce trees that were only 5 feet off my wing. Then I had to touch-down immediately over the river bank, while dodging a small log, and get stopped in less than 300′ before hitting the horses or running into the river. It’s a fairly standard situation for this line of work, but the sort of thing that could get ugly quick if I misjudged the landing zone. It actually all worked perfectly, and the horses just stood there as if they received a Super-Cub delivered breakfast every morning.
Sent from my iPhone
That’s right, I took this photo today, September 8th, 2012. I wish I could claim the turns for my own, but I can only take credit for the photo. This is in the Talkeetna Mountains above the Snowbird Glacier. We had a storm rip through the area recently that leveled thousands of trees and threw down gusts of 130 mph. Anchorage took the brunt of it–or at least they belly ached louder than anyone else
It was a big day up here at sheep mountain. We moved 26 people into, and out of, the Talkeetna and Chugach mountains with the Super Cubs and Cessna 185. The weather did not cooperate yesterday so we were a bit back-logged this morning. The fog finally lifted at approximately 9:38 this morning ….. not that we were watching the clock or anything :o) It’s been a great season so far, so we really can’t complain about the weather. The hunters have had great success and nobody has gotten hurt. There is fresh snow on most of the peaks, and the weather out-look for the next few days is …. interesting. It is peak season for sheep hunting, moose hunting, goat hunting, caribou hunting, and even bear hunting. In recent days we’ve also hauled rafters, pack-rafters, and hikers. It’s still great weather for getting out into the mountains and enjoying the peak colors of the season. We are thoroughly enjoying our fall season up here on the mountain.
Mike Meekin standing by N7580Y at one of our moose camps.
Ready for the big Sheep hunt, while the tundra turns colors.
Fresh snow in the mountains, while dropping off hunters to chase goats.
Matt Keller and Mike Meekins flew us in to the Knik Glacier on May 1 and we began our ascent with the hopes of summiting Mt. Marcus-Baker. We had some good weather as we traveled up the glacier. Then a small storm came in that stopped us for a day and a half and we realized we wouldn’t have time to climb Mt. Marcus-Baker, so we attempted a couple smaller peaks around the upper portion of the Knik glacier. Then the night before we planned to begin our decent (May 9th), the wind picked up and snow began to fall. We had some wind walls built of snow, but as the night progressed the wind continued to build and eat away at our wind walls.
About 11 pm the tent with Jamie, Margo and Jesse in it had some tent poles break, so they shouted to us that they were going to take it down and come hunker with us in our 3-person tent (the wind walls were still providing some protection to our tent). We took turns through the night sitting up and bracing the wall of the tent while the other three tried to sleep. By 6 am, Jamie had decided our best option was to begin digging a snow cave and take shelter there because this tent wouldn’t last much longer. So two of us exited the tent and began digging nearby in whiteout conditions with 60-70 mile per hour winds and gusts even higher. By noon we had the snow cave constructed and we began transferring things from the tent to the cave… and we took down the tent (by now also with broken poles).
Then for the next 4 days we lived in this snow cave. One challenge was getting enough ventilation, because the door was getting covered with drifting and falling snow… so we spent a good part of our second day in the cave building snow chimneys… to allow ventilation but deflect drifting snow. Down in the cave it was eerily calm, but outside the wind and driving snow was amazingly fierce. Spending 30 minutes out there felt like forever.
In the end the storm lasted two days beyond what we had planned to spend in the mountains, so we had to ration our food to make it last. And finally on the 14th of May, the wind calmed, the skies cleared and Mike Meekins was able to fly in to our camp at 8000 feet and pick us up in his Super Cub one at a time… What a glorious feeling to see him land!!