Ketchikan

Misty Fjords National Monument by Float Plane
Misty Fjords National Monument by Float Plane Tom Ogg Ketchikan Seawind Aviation Shore Excursion Review Steve and Lesley Kamm, SeaWind Aviation One of the most interesting sights in Alaska is the Misty Fjords National Monument. With over 2.2 million acres of wilderness, it is unique because fjords traverse the entire area. With sheer granite cliffs falling thousands of feet into deep fjords, the scenery is simply spectacular. Add the fact that the entire monument resides in a coastal rain forest and Misty Fjords National Monument is one of the most awe inspiring sights in Alaska. Ketchikan Seawind Aviation Shore Excursion Review Flying in Misty Fjord National Monument The best way to experience the monument is via float plane from Ketchikan. Misty Fjords is south and east of Ketchikan and the flight to and from Misty Fjords takes one far from civilization. The main trick to having a wonderful experience is dependent upon the weather and the pilot. If the weather is difficult, flying may be uncomfortable and visibility disappointing. A good pilot will know where the best flying conditions are for the weather at hand, so you want to be sure that your pilot has flown in the area for a good number of years. Second, the pilot can make or break the experience for you if they talk too much, or too little. A good pilot will be completely up-front with you, asking for your desires. Most have scripted narration that consists of information about the monument and its elements. Ketchikan Seawind Aviation Misty Fjords Shore Excursion Review Flying into Misty Fjords On my last visit to Ketchikan, we arrived on a stellar day. The sun was shinning and there was virtually no wind. If you are in Ketchikan under similar circumstances, this would be your signal to immediately book a float place trip to the Misty Fjords National Monument. This is exactly what we did. While I had gone with other operators before, on this day we were booked with a company called SeaWind Aviation. Since we had booked it the morning we arrived in Ketchikan, the only flight that we could get was at 2 pm. As our last tender back to the ship was at 3:30 pm, it was a tough decision to risk missing the tender. On the assurance of SeaWind Aviation that they would get us to our ship, no matter what, we decided to go for it. Seawind Aviation Pickup Van The SeaWind Aviation Transfer Van We were met at 1:30 pm in front of the Ketchikan Visitors Center by Lesley Kamm, the co-owner of SeaWind Aviation. Lesley had their new baby with her and after getting into the van, she related her story of meeting Steve after moving from Southern California to Ketchikan. Seawind Aviation owner in Ketchikan, Alaska Lesley and one of the Next Generation of Ketchikan Bush PilotsShe obviously loved her new life and did a wonderful job making everyone feel comfortable. We arrived at the SeaWind Aviation dock, checked in and paid for our upcoming adventure. I really liked the idea that this was a family operation and was looking forward to meeting Steve. Ketchikan Seawind Aviation Shore Excursion Review Steve by His Airplane Steve arrived with a load of passengers that he had just returned with and he and Lesley were able to turn the aircraft around to be ready for our tour. We left promptly at 2 p.m. Steve turned out to be a third generation Ketchikanian and his father also flew float planes his entire life in the area. To say that Steve was knowledgeable of south east Alaska would be a huge understatement. The thing I liked best about Steve's approach was that he acted more like he was taking close friends on an adventure rather than adopting a persona of a tour guide or escort. I instantly liked him and found his approach very enjoyable. Right off the bat he asked if we wanted the typical tourist narration and everyone in our plane declined. The headsets had microphones that were voice activated, so that everyone in the aircraft could talk with one another. Norwegian Star docked in Ketchikan, Alaska Ketchikan From the Air We taxied out into the inlet and began our ascent. After clearing the water, Steve gently climbed from Ketchikan awarding us with awesome views of the entire Ketchikan area. We made our way down the inlet to another body of water where we turned left and headed inland towards the Misty Fjords National Monument. The day was simply beautiful. Steve mentioned it was one of the nicest that he had remembered in recent times. The views were awesome! After 10 minutes or so we started entering into the fjords themselves. The Sheer Granite Cliffs of Misty Fjords The Sheer Granite Cliffs of Misty Fjords We climbed over ridges, flew along granite cliffs that plummeted thousands of feet below us. Steve had seen some bears on his last trip so he returned to the same area to see if he could spot them again. We saw many mountain goats lying on the ridges, but did not find the bears. Flying in and around the fjords became a surreal experience for me. I loved the pure ruggedness of the terrain, yet also loved the luxury of simply flying where ever we wanted. Misty Fjords Lake After a period of flightseeing, Steve spotted a lake and began to drop in elevation setting up for a landing. The lake was absolutely dead calm and as the plane settled into the lakes smooth surface, one couldn't even tell that we had landed. Landing on a Lake in Misty Fjords We taxied to a huge granite boulder that resided in the center of the lake on its eastern side and Steve paddled the aircraft to the rock for everyone to enjoy the views and the peaceful surroundings. The view was beautiful. It reminded me that on my next trip to Ketchikan, I want to spend the day fishing on one of these lakes all by myself. Misty Fjords Lake View After a short rest on the rock and enjoying the remoteness of the area, we boarded the aircraft and took off once again. We visited more fjords before starting our return back to Ketchikan. All too soon we were dropping elevation getting ready to arrive in Ketchikan. We looked at our watches and it was already 3:30 pm and we started to worry about the last tender. Lesley had the van waiting for us, we piled in, and she got to the tender wharf as quickly as she could. When we arrived she jumped out of the car, ran to the pier above the tender and yelled that there were still people coming. We made our way to the tender and were the last people to board the last tender of the day. Once we boarded, they closed the tender and left for the ship. Talk about cutting it close! Here is the bottom line on the Misty Fjords National Monument Float Plane trips. It is a must do if you want to experience some of southeast Alaska's spectacular wilderness. There are numerous operators offering a variety of tours into the monument. If you make advanced reservations you run the risk that there might be bad weather, but if you don't, you run the risk that there might not be space. Plan on spending about $200.00 per person for a tour with a landing included. The experience is well worth the additional cost. Would I recommend SeaWind Aviation? You bet. By the way, just so you know, I paid full tilt for the tour and don't receive any advertising or other revenues from them. When Lesley said "it doesn't seem like we should be charging you" I told her, how can I give an honest opinion, if I got it for free? Steve and Lesley are wonderful people that deserve your business and Steve is one of the most personable and knowledgeable pilots I have run across. I will use them again in the future. Seawind Aviation's New Aircraft. July 19th, 2005 Update: I was recently in Ketchikan on Celebrity Cruise Line's Mercury and stopped by to see the folks at Seawind Aviation. I was pleasantly surprised that they had just acquired a new float plane capable of carrying more people at one time (they were even loading a disabled person). They are such great people that I am very happy for their success.Here is their contact information; SeaWind Aviation 1249 Tongass Avenue Ketchikan, Alaska 99901 1-877-225-1203 info@seawindaviation.com http://www.SeaWindAviation.com Check Our Our  Ketchikan Shore Excursions

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