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Our Crew

Suzanne Rust

Owner/Station Operations Manager

Suzanne started her career in aviation by working at the National Transportation Safety Board’s Anchorage Regional Office while attending college. The three years she interned built a solid foundation for understanding aviation. When the Rust family purchased K2 in 1996, she focused on building a team that would put passenger and pilot safety first while sharing one of the most beautiful places on earth. She has three daughters and lives in Talkeetna where she can be found on the K2 Aviation deck visiting with guests or on the trail running or biking with her dog Charley. She relates that one night she and one of her daughters were ice skating and her daughter paused and said, ” you know Talkeena’s a really special place.”

Todd Rust

Owner/Director of Operations

Todd Rust, owner and Director of Operations, came to Alaska with his family in 1959. In 1963 his father, Hank, started Rust’s Flying Service, an Anchorage floatplane operation, where Todd grew up working as a dock hand and later as a pilot. After college, he worked as an aeronautical engineer for several years for aircraft manufacturers Northrop and Lockheed Martin. He returned to the family business in 1983 and has been overseeing operations of 23 airplanes and 40 pilots. He and Suzanne have three kids.

Colin Rust

Owner/Director of Maintenance

Colin Rust has worked as a dock hand during his high school years. In 1980 he got his Airframe and Power plant Certificate from Northrop University. He has worked for Continental Airlines and later, MarkAir Express, stationed in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. Colin received his Inspection Authorization Certificate, and began working as Director of Maintenance in 1996. With a Divemaster Certification in scuba diving, he enjoys teaching scuba, and dives regularly year-round in Alaskas’ waters. Colin has three wonderful children.

Sara Sickler

Flight Follower

Sara Sickler joined the K2 team in 2018. She was born and raised in Wyoming, and later traveled around the U.S. She worked in the hospitality industry in both Phoenix and the Chicagoland area before jumping on the chance to come to Alaska for “one season”. One season turned into 11 years working in the hospitality industry in Talkeetna before giving adventure tourism a try. She could not be happier to be a part of the K2 team! Sara spends most of her winter months in the local high school gym where her husband, Jimmy, coaches basketball as well as finds time to travel and experience new places. In the summer, she spends most of her time at the lake with her two dogs Stanley and Lou, working in the yard, and at the softball field.

Katie Gilligan


Katie was born and raised in Alaska and is part of four generations of Alaskans. She and her husband live in Talkeetna year-round and enjoy travelling the world as often as they can.

Stephanie Smothers

Assistant Operations Manager

Stephanie joined the K2 team in 2006 and took a full-time position in operations in 2008. A background in Business Management coupled with a passion for the outdoors and tourism made Talkeetna and K2 the perfect place to call home.

Erni Herschberger

Customer Experience Manager/Flight Following Agent

I’ve worked in the tourism industry most of my working years, 11 of which have been in Alaska. I love the interactions with the seasonal staff and guests that I get from working as a Customer experience manager. The Flight Follower position I also fill, gives me opportunities to work closely with the pilots and to send our guests on one of the most exciting experiences of their lives. In my summer time off I love hanging out with my daughter, camping, fishing, and travelling around the great state of Alaska. I work all year long with some lovely winter vacations to warm places and to see family.

Wesley Sharon

Flight Following Agent
Wesley joined the K2 Aviation team as a seasonal Ramp Agent and has now progressed to being a full time Assistant Operations Manager. He has loved aviation since he was a child and knew that would pursue a career in the industry. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a focus on Aviation Business Administration and participated in helicopter flight training.  

Chad Smith


Chad Smith is a local resident of Talkeetna and has been flying in Alaska since 2005 with close to 10k hours of experience, most of which has been remote. He’s flown all over this great land of Alaska, but this is BY FAR some of the coolest flying he’s ever done!

Riley Martin

Chief Pilot
Riley is a lifelong Alaskan with a passion for aviation and the outdoors. Since June 2019 Riley has been flying commercially as an instructor, ferry, lodge, and 135 pilot. Whenever he’s not working Riley spends his spare change on gas for whatever airplanes he can wrangle up to go fly. Outside the cockpit, Riley enjoys skiing, biking, running, climbing, and skipping rocks in the front range around Anchorage and Talkeetna.

David Rief


David Rief is a 4th generation pilot but the first of the previous 3 to fly professionally. He’s a flatlander from Kansas but has been coming to Alaska since he was 8 years old to visit family. He fell in love with Alaska at a young age and this year he finally made the move up here. Recently, he’s enjoyed flying corporate charter all over the lower 48. However, the most fun he’s had flying was the time he spent teaching some beginner aerobatics and upset recovery to students at Kansas State University, but he has a feeling his time at K2 will top that. He’s an avid skier so in the winter you can catch him at Alyeska shredding some fresh pow.

Robin Spaulding


Robin is a third-generation aviator, born and raised in Talkeetna. After finishing her bachelors degree Robin decided to pursue a career in aviation. Since then she has flown commercially in Alaska mostly in an off-airport capacity; including wheel planes out of Talkeetna and floatplanes in Southwest Alaska. She also owns and operates a flight school on the Talkeetna Airport.