Where airplanes have floats, and everybody flies.
- By Carl Posey
- Air & Space magazine, June 2013
Adam Wright / FlightDeckImages
(Page 7 of 7)
Most owners have traditionally had their floats installed at one of several float specialists on the lakeshore. According to Robert Tasker at Floats Alaska, the company used to do two full changes a day for a month and a half. This seasonal transformation, like everything, has changed. “More and more,” Tasker says, “they just haul their floatplanes out and let them sit out the winter.”
At Rust’s, the workforce drops from about 40 people to a dozen in winter. The big floatplanes are hauled out and stored.
The meteorological winter is kinder to Lake Hood operations than the recent economic winter has been. While the larger operators still thrive on a growing air tourism trade, the smaller outfits have seen hard times.
“I’d had the best year I ever had in 2008,” says John Ellison. “But 2009 was the worst year ever, down from 400 hours to 275. We used to have another pilot, dockhand, office person. Now it’s pretty much a one-man show.”
But the Lake Hood Seaplane Base and all who make their living from it—pilots and ground crews, husbands and wives, fathers and sons—are sticking around despite lean times. Many see themselves as part of a brotherhood of neighbors and kindred souls—a unique aeronautical ecosystem. As Dee Hanson says of Lake Hood, “There will never be another one like this one.”
In 1976, longtime contributor Carl Posey flew a wheeled Cessna 182 from Colorado to Point Barrow, Alaska, and back (and lived to tell about it).