This is the summer solstice but it didn't seem light any longer
than yesterday because it was mostly cloudy all day. The sun peeked through
several times throughout the day but not for long. It was chillier
(mid-50s F.) and breezy, too.
It seemed like a good day to do some inside activities on our List of
Things to Do in Anchorage.
We snuck in a little bit of outdoor
sightseeing, too. Here Jim and Cody are approaching Earthquake Park,
located just off the popular Coastal Trail:
This entry is flight-oriented, focusing on photos and information about
the Alaska Aviation Museum and float plane activity on Lake Hood.
The next entry in today's series will be about Earthquake Park and the City of Anchorage
greenhouses. The third entry will cover the Alaska Heritage Museum and
its extensive collection of Native art and artifacts.
That was a lot to do in one day! I think we're going to have to start pacing
ourselves . . .
A PLETHORA OF PLANES
The quote at the beginning of this entry notes that Anchorage has
considerable international air traffic for both people and cargo.
More than 25 international and domestic carriers fly in and out of Ted
Stevens Anchorage International Airport, carrying over five million
passengers each year and many, many tons of cargo.
Sign for sale at the Alaska Aviation Heritage
Within the state the air is very busy, too, with thousands of smaller aircraft
serving residents who live off the road grid.
This is something fairly unique to Alaska. The largest U.S. state also
has the fewest roads.
People who live in the Bush are more dependent on small aircraft to
transport them and the goods they need than any other state because of
the dearth of roads and the glut of snow and ice.
Display of old skis used on planes to land on snow
Some planes land on skis in the snow, others on pontoons in the water
(sea planes AKA float planes). Many Bush communities are located
next to rivers or lakes where float planes can land and take off.
In the summer planes with tires can land on remote paved, dirt, or grass
airstrips that are free of snow.
This looks like a hybrid with both tires and
Small-plane charters are also a practical way for residents and visitors to reach communities
along the southeastern coast that are not on the road grid, such as
Cordova, Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan. They're faster than
cruise ships or ferries if you have a long way to go and you can see
more of the terrain from the air.
In addition, there are many small charter airplanes used by both residents
and visitors to reach remote areas of the state to fish, hunt, and
sightsee. We plan to do a flight-seeing tour of Mt. McKinley AKA Denali
later this summer.
FLOAT PLANES ON LAKE HOOD
This morning we drove to the southwestern side of Anchorage near the
airport so we could watch sea planes on Lake Hood.
On peak summer
days about 800 planes land or take off from either Lake Hood or
adjacent Lake Spenard. It's the world's largest and busiest sea plane
We parked near the Alaska Aviation Museum on Aircraft Drive between Lake
Hood and the Ted Stevens airport. There are other places around Lake
Hood and Lake Spenard where you can park and watch the planes.
I got the best photos of float planes that were stationary:
We also watched several float planes take off:
Another good place to watch other kinds of small
planes come and go (about 1,100 a day in the summer) is Merrill Field.
We haven't been there yet.
We've heard that the best place to watch BIG
planes come and go from the international airport is from the Coastal Trail at the end of the runways.
We plan to ride our bikes there tomorrow if the weather is nice.
ALASKA AVIATION HERITAGE MUSEUM
While we were near the airport we also went into the
Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum:
We both enjoyed this museum (Jim especially).
If you like either airplanes or history, you'll have fun nosing around
this place. If we hadn't had so many other things on our agenda we could
have spent even more time there than we did. There is a lot to see and
Most of the exhibits in three hangars are about the history of flight in
This photo of a float plane caught my attention. Note the date and
location (Sitka Bay, AK, apparently a refueling point):
It's an interesting heritage, often centered around float planes and
other small, nimble aircraft.
Since the beginning of aviation Alaska pioneers have used these planes
as their main mode of transportation while exploring and developing
areas of the state that are difficult to access.
There are numerous photos, memorabilia, restored planes, engines, parts, and other items displayed inside
-- even an antique car advertising an airline:
Above and below: an old plane from a
company based in Bethel, AK,
which is well off the highway grid.
There are also some flight simulators Jim had fun with:
Outside are a variety of planes on display, from small wooden ones to an
Alaska Airlines 737 you can climb into:
Historic 1943 PBY 5A Catalina Canso (see
for the history)
The Boeing 737 in the next photo is called the "Mud Hen." It is a combination
passenger-cargo plane made for Alaska Airlines and flown extensively
Check out the passenger seating in the second photo
Another hangar holds helicopters, vehicles, and more planes. The last
building is a workshop and restoration hanger.
The Milepost indicated current and retired military personnel can
enter the museum free but their policy has changed since the 2011
edition of the book was published. Upon entry we showed our military cards but
discovered that the entry fee is $10 for most adults, $8 for seniors
over 65 and military folks, and $6 for children over 5.
We were interested in seeing what they had but didn't want to spend $16.
When we turned to leave the woman collecting fees told us we could enter
for free. We thanked her and left a donation.
Next entry: visiting Earthquake Park and the City of
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil