Helicopters verses Float Planes
“AHHHH!!! You’d never get me in one of those machines”. “Those things don’t glide very well”. “ I’ve had enough time in those contraptions in the army”. “ I got shot down in one of those things”. These phrases and more are what I commonly hear when I travel around selling trips..
In Alaska’s “road less” back country, one must travel by air or boat. Aircraft have the advantage of offering fishing variety and options when the fishing might be slow in one area and hot in another. Most Alaskan fly out lodges utilize float planes. When traveling to Alaska, on a fishing excursion, most anglers visualize stepping off a float plane on a wilderness lake and casting to thousands of salmon. Many Alaskan lodges are located on the large lake systems of Bristol Bay. This area is ideal for float flying, however, float planes need large areas to land, therefore, if there is good fishing, expect to share your waters with other lodges.
Float planes can move larger groups of people quicker than helicopters, therefore the larger fly out lodges handling 12-25 clients usually use larger Canadian built “Beavers” on floats. People often look at photos of my helicopters and say, “ I’d feel much safer in a float plane”. Most of the Beaver float planes were built in the early 50’s…that means they are 60 years old. Their radial engines were designed in the 30’s. Hopefully, the pilots are a little younger than the planes they are flying. Our helicopters are built in the late 80’s and 90’s and are still in production today.
The area surrounding Talaheim Lodge has many large glacier rivers with many clear water rivers tributaries. Our salmon travel up these glacier waters from the sea and into the clear water tributaries to spawn. These clear water streams are from 10-50 miles in length. Talaheim is located midway on one of the best tributaries in the area…the Talachulitna . Like anywhere in Alaska, the salmon feed our local predators…rainbow trout, char, and grayling. These smaller rivers have great angling, but they are too small or don’t have straight stretches long enough for safe landing of float planes. THAT’S WHERE OUR HELICOPTERS SHINE!
Within a 15 mile radius of our lodge, we have a couple hundred miles of gin clear waters rarely visited by other anglers. We simply land on one of these rivers, drop off a couple anglers and guide, return in the early evening for a pick up. Our anglers wade down picking up fish along the way. In some cases on larger streams we use a drift boat to reach the best fishing areas. This is “HELI-FISHING” at its finest. On the return trip to the lodge we often make a stop on a glacier or mountain top for great photo ops…. Something that a float plane can’t offer.
SAFETY….Many people that never experienced helicopter flying are worried about safety. Pilot experience and maintenance is the key factor of any flying or boating machine. Our machines are kept up to commercial standards as we are operating commercially. Myself and my fellow pilots are all mechanics and flight instructors with thousands of hours of flight time.
I feel much safer in helicopters than I do in fixed winged aircraft…I fly and own both. In most cases of all flying machines, a forced landing is due to engine problems. Granted, a airplane glides farther, but they touch down on a glide at 50-80 mph depending on the craft. A helicopter auto rotates and touches down at 0 mph. An airplane needs a long landing area, where as a helicopter can find an area to land almost anywhere…any small clearing. In war time, slow low flying helicopters are easy targets, but I assure you, nobody is shooting at us at Talaheim Lodge. Flying over Alaska in a small helicopter is a panoramic experience like no other. Many of my anglers mention that the flying is the highlight of the trip, the fishing a bonus.
Come join us for a “heli-fishing” experience that you will never forgot. We call it “fishing in Alaska, New Zealand style”.