During the summer months (May-Sept) I will spend many hours in the wilderness by myself. These solo opportunities arise for a number of reasons. Nearly 50% of my flight time is spent alone because of the nature of our business. I fly one-way loaded, and then return home with an empty Super Cub or vise versa. I like flying alone because when I am empty I can land and pick up moose antlers that have been naturally shed the previous winter. Or I will land to explore an old gold miners cabin that has long been abandoned. I have hauled the backpacks of our elderly clients to locations more suitable for a tent than the glacier I landed them on. This last summer we put forth a major effort to clean up a pristine valley that had been littered by gold miners 6 years earlier ( I will tell that story later this winter). Much time is spent each year brushing-out and working on existing air-strips and building new ones. Or, as I explained in the Nov. 28th post, sometimes our clients will have situations that require our involvement beyond just flight support.
Alaska gets a lot of attention because of our furry, four-legged, snaggle toothed friends. I was born and raised in Alaska and even with all my time outside in the wilderness alone I have NEVER had a problem with bears. When I say “a problem” I am talking about being charged or “woofed” at. This tells you something about the area that I fly in. We definitely have bears, but I do not see them everyday like I do the moose and the sheep. I see them probably a couple times a week. Regardless I have always said that I would rather have 1000 lbs of teeth and claws coming at me in the mountains than unknowingly being bitten by a camouflaged nasty little snake or spider… but that is just me. Anyways, all that to say, that is why I have shot-gun tied to my wing. I honestly can’t remember what I was doing this day that I was packin’ heat, but for some reason I wanted the added security. Lots of people carry only bear spray. I will rely on bear spray only if there is a number of us hiking together. If I am a group of one or two I like my shotgun. I used to carry a .44 mag but deep-down inside I knew I was not that good of a shot :o)
A couple of quick things about my airplane as long as we have this view. My Super Cub weighs about 1200 lbs empty, I can legally carry 800 lbs, It has a 160 horsepower Lycoming (Don’t Ask $$$$). Those are 35″ Alaskan Bush Wheels ($5500). The shocks are a titanium Alpha Omega Hydrasorb suspension system ($3500). I love my headset, it’s a Lightspeed Zulu ($850). A Garmin 296 GPS sits on the dash ($1500).