First Feet-Wet Session – 2010

Flying floats is at the top of my list of rewarding things to do. Given where I work and live, it isn’t easy finding opportunities to indulge in this activity. So, I tend to go out of my way for them.

Being here in AK in late summer brings just such an opportunity. I took a day trip to see Don Lee at Alaska Floats and Skis in Talkeetna for a float refresher. He’s based out of Christensen Lake just south of the town, thus this location has quick access to the Talkeetna Mountains and all the lakes within, without a lot of time transitioning to water and back. His operation has a couple of PA-22s on straight floats, which make nice cost effective airplanes for this kind of work (even if they don’t unstick from the water all that easily…).

I was only a year out of a flight review, but figured it was just as well to use this as an opportunity to renew while I was at it.

While out, we photographed some of the “easy” lakes, and I put a gallery up so you can get a sense of the place. (In the not-so-easy spots, the camera just stayed stowed):

It’s typical backcountry flying, but with water instead of turf or gravel as a runway at the end. The trickiest thing here is that almost all of these remote lakes require a consistent glassy-water landing technique because, well, that’s just what they are. All my initial float training was done in California, and while you can practice glassy water landings anywhere, I never really got to see more than one for real. To experience them, one has to simply be where the smooth water is. None of my glassy water landings were all that good, although they did improve markedly at the end.

I just need to go practice them more. Yeah, that’s it…

Big thanks to Don and Esther H., it’s always challenging and fun flying with them in one of the best spots anywhere on earth.

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