You are hereMay/June 2013

May/June 2013

With millions of acres of pristine wilderness, Alaska is a place that many pilots call the final frontier. If you've ever considered flying your airplane there, don't miss this issue with a fabulous south-central Alaska itinerary. Of course, if you'd rather stay closer to home, we've got that covered too. We'll take you from romantic Niagara Falls to America's aviation hub of Wichita to a small Idaho town with big summer recreation.

Southern Alaska

Flying in Alaska really is the ultimate pilot's adventure, but most pilots never make it up there with their airplane. They miss the chance to see majestic mountains, smoking volcanoes, lush rainforests, salmon migrating by the millions, and giant brown bears that feast upon them each summer. In this issue, Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy lays out a sample itinerary that covers most of south-central Alaska and some of the 49th state's most beautiful wilderness areas. Find out how to travel both the coastal and inland routes to Alaska from the lower 48. You'll read about exclusive fly-in-only lodges surrounded by pure wilderness, where the only trails are game trails and where you can fish lakes and streams full of hungry native trout, grayling, or Arctic char. Turquoise lakes, glaciers that are wider than freeways, and row upon row of snow-clad mountains all make for spectacular flightseeing. You may wish to grab a chartered float or ski plane and let a local bush pilot take you to his favorite secret haunts. You can land on a glacier or in an alpine meadow, go deep sea fishing for giant halibut, and even earn your seaplane rating while learning mountain flying techniques. In the evenings, feast on fresh game, freshly caught fish, and organic vegetables grown behind the lodge. You'll see why pilot/songwriter John Denver visited one of these special lodges 26 times. Relax by the fire and watch the alpenglow on distant mountains as the summer sun finally dips toward the horizon.

Niagara Falls, New York/Ontario

Niagara Falls, on the U.S./Canadian border, has always been a romantic destination for lovers. Author Heather Sanders Connellee explains why it's a great pilot's destination too. She starts with a route you can use to easily fly over the three great waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls and get a bird's-eye view before you visit on foot. You can visit the falls from both the American and Canadian sides, and of course, don't miss the classic boat trip on the Maid of the Mist, where you'll don a souvenir poncho and sail into the spray from the enormous, thundering waterfalls. But there's more to a Niagara vacation than the falls: a historic fort, butterfly conservatory, and wine tasting await discovery as well. Enjoy fine meals in small, out-of-the-way towns, or up in a tower overlooking the Falls. When it's time to retire, choose a B&B in the wine country overlooking the Niagara River, or a hotel with all-night views of the Falls, which are lit at night. Don't miss the fireworks, and don't forget your passport!

Wichita, Kansas

This city in the center of our country is also the center of general aviation in America. Thousands of Cessna and Beech aircraft took to the skies for the first time here. Author Patricia Strutz, a Cessna pilot herself, takes you to this aviation-friendly city with its surprising nightlife, legendary steaks and barbeques, and comprehensive aviation museum. At the museum, you'll see over 40 Kansas-built aircraft from the little 1927 Laird Swallow to the giant Boeing Stratofortress. Study engines from the most primitive to the latest turbines, or choose from over 100 aircraft you can fly on the simulator. You can even fly an F-4 and land on an aircraft carrier, G-suit and all. When you've had enough aviation, you can put your cowboy hat on and check out Old Cowtown, a living history museum. You'll feel like you just stepped into a Western movie. No Western would be complete without Indians, and you'll also find an Indian center that takes you right into life in an 1850s Plains Indian village. Shopping, galleries, gardens, and more round out your active days here. For dinner, whether you choose a wine bar or brewery/restaurant, you'll have no trouble finding a great steak or chop, perfectly marbled and cooked up just the way you like it. When it's time to retire, choose a luxury hotel, historic arts and crafts home, downtown apartment, or even camping with equipment you might have picked up that day at the Coleman outlet store… all right here in Wichita.

Cascade, Idaho

Cascade is a small town in a long valley surrounded by beautiful, but not too tall, mountains. Most people pass through Cascade in south-central Idaho on their way to better-known McCall, but Cascade has just as much to offer. Rent a car and drive up a perfect gravel road to the top of Snowbank Mountain. Here you can begin your hike in any direction for the day, or camp overnight. The views into the valley are superb, and alpine lakes abound. Chances are good you'll see a deer, as Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy did when she camped here. Down in Cascade, water sports are tops. Have you ever played around in a whitewater park? Rent a tube, kayak, or stand-up paddle board and try all the standing waves and chutes, or just float down the river. You can also go whitewater rafting down the Payette, with rapids that will get your heart going but aren't violent. Pilots may want to book an Emergency Maneuver Training (EMT) course with Rich Stowell, the FAA's 2006 CFI of the year. He lives in Cascade and specializes in aerobatic, tailwheel, and EMT and stall/spin awareness. Lessons here could save your life someday. This former timber town now sports a year-round recreational resort along West Mountain, where you can mountain bike, play golf, or swim in Cascade Lake. Stay in a condo at the resort or at a Cape Cod-style boutique hotel in town. You'll be glad you discovered Cascade!

Flying the Alaska Wilderness—Prepare for the Unexpected

Flying in Alaska can be as fun as safe as in other remote areas as long as you are prepared. Author William Pass shares valuable information he gleaned while flying turboprops in Alaska and other far-flung corners of the world. When flying in remote areas, you should bring a survival kit, and keep in mind, there are certain requirements for flying over Canada as well as in Alaska. From fire arms and bear spray to Personal Locator Beacons and satellite phones, you'll be better prepared when you fly to or in Alaska, as well as in other remote areas.