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Lessons Learned About Flying (and about life): About Alaska

Figuring out where the lessons began, and where they might end, on a nine-week floatplane journey from Texas to Alaska and back home again.

Lessons Learned: Flying Alaska

As the Cessna Amphibian I’m flying emerges from the ragged overcast into the fading light of a cool September evening, I can barely pick out the end of the runway through the rain-smeared windshield. A stiff left crosswind shoves me off centerline, requiring a boot-full of rudder to keep the nose straight. After touchdown at my small central Texas airport, feeling relieved to be safely on the surface, I slowly taxi to a parking spot and shut down the big Lycoming. In the enveloping silence, I remain seated for several long minutes as the realization sinks in that this summer’s Alaska adventure is truly complete.

The trip took nine weeks and almost 100 flight hours, covering thousands of miles through some of the most amazing scenery and some of the worst weather I’ve seen, including furnace-like heat across the southern tier of states, followed by near-constant rain and low ceilings in Southeast Alaska. Throw in an in-flight emergency, and you get to enjoy an unplanned and expensive week in Oregon while engine repairs
are made.

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