The beginning of each Alaska season has many landmark events. Such as, splashing the boats or opening the lodge doors for the first time in 8 months (which can be scary). At Rapids Camp, one of my favorite landmark days during set up is the opening of the hangar. It’s the day that the airplanes leave their winter prison to initiate their purpose in life. It’s a time that the familiar, warm smell of a 65-year-old airplane simply just makes me happy. When the airplanes leave the hangar, bush flying begins and the season officially starts.
Many people have an aversion to “small airplanes.” Personally, I have an aversion to large airplanes. Commercial jets are robotic, lifeless, flying germ tubes. Floatplanes are uniquely built machines with a personality that requires direct manipulation in order to perform. Each and every one of them is different. Over the years, I have developed lifelong friendships with floatplane pilots and mechanics. They both share a love for aviation and the maintenance that is required of an old workhorse floatplane. Not all commercial jets are maintained with the same love and devotion to aviation. Their maintenance is more “clinical.”
When the hangar door opens, Alaska life begins. Old friendships are reunited. New personality traits are discovered. New friendships begin. All of it leads us to the place we dream and desire to be- flying over the tundra, looking for a puddle of water to land in just so we can walk to a creek to catch a fish that has never seen a human. De Havilland could not have known just how perfectly their design would deliver the ultimate Alaska experience to the few people lucky enough to fly in them.
Thanks for reading,
Chad Bryson- Head Guide, Rapids Camp Lodge