by K2 Pilot Daniel Rovey
Changing worlds usually takes lots of time, effort, or mental fortitude, but scenic flights from Talkeetna take people to a different world and back within an hour or two.
Talkeetna is surrounded by rivers, lakes, and trees.
The terrain around Talkeetna is flat: Talkeetna is only 358’ above sea level, which is not much elevation for the Susitna River to descend during its 70 mile journey to the Cook Inlet. A few minutes after taking off airplanes leave the valley behind and enter a world of mountains, snow, and glaciers. Sharing views of that special territory in Denali National Park with people from around the world is one of the best uses for an airplane.
Glacier landings add another dimension to the experience. Walking around on the snow in the middle of summer, stopping to breathe the mountain air and absorb the breath taking views creates a lasting memories and a personal connection to the mountain range and the park. Then after 15 or 20 minutes enjoying that special world, the airplane transports everyone back to the valley, the trees, and Talkeetna.
This is my first summer flying for K2 Aviation. I lived in Arizona for most of my life, and Alaska is a different world.
Arizona has wonderful geographic diversity, but in general it is hot and dry. Water, especially running streams are rare, and trees only grow where there is enough water. In contrast, Alaska has abundant lakes and streams, and in the Susitna Valley trees grow everywhere that is dry enough: the places without trees are lakes or marshes.
For the past thirteen years I worked as an engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson. Raytheon is a good company to work for, but engineers generally inhabit cubicles and meeting rooms. K2 pilots spend their days flying around the Alaska Range, or hanging around the Talkeetna airport waiting to fly. Those are very different worlds, and I’m glad I made the switch. Talkeetna is a great place to spend the summer.