Alaska is still mostly wilderness, and scattered throughout this wilderness the truly fortunate have cabins which allow them to live far away from the stress and strife of modern civilization. Without electricity, one does not have to worry about paying a monthly electric bill, and the same can also be said for the phone. The lack of TV means one is spared the daily horrors of "civilized life," and it is not long before one's problems resolve into the simple matters of keeping firewood cut and on occasion hunting a moose to provide prime steaks.

Most of these wilderness cabins are only accessible by air, and therefore they are usually built near some natural feature which can be used as a landing area. This landing area may take the form of a beautiful lake which can be used on floats during the summer and skis in winter. Or it may be a gravel bar on one of the river systems, or perhaps a somewhat level area where one can shoehorn in a Super Cub. Whatever, it allows access, and those of us who have wilderness cabins are always grateful for the natural features Nature provides which enable us to live where we do.

My cabins are located on a river bank in the Nazina Valley, and below them there are gravel bars that change with the seasons. For a number of years I was able to land in front of my cabin, but then one summer the river changed its course and washed the landing area out. This forced me to move the airplanes to a different field, a nice but rocky gravel bar a half-mile away that delighted my wife no end because of her love of trails. This gravel bar has been reasonably stable for a number of years, and turned out to be a good location for a bush airstrip.

The strip itself is a narrow, wavy, 800 foot long track running across a field of rocks, driftwood, and brush that is situated on two different levels each about 400 feet long. The ramp that connects the two levels can be seen in front of the airplane in the picture, and is steep enough so that on takeoff if you are not in the air prior to reaching it, it will toss you into ground-effect where you will have to catch the airplane by applying flaps and a little nose-down pitch. Not exactly the most appropriate spot for amateurs, to the experienced bush pilot it is an easy strip for year-around use on wheels and skis using Cessna 180/185 class airplanes. For Super Cubs, of course, it is a piece of cake.

This strip plays a role in many of the examples given in the "Guide to Bush Flying," and was a part of my daily life for many years. It, in fact, spoiled me for the airports of the Lower 48, and I find when I am away from it that I miss its comforts dearly.

$Date: 2005/05/06 02:03:57 $ Copyright © 2001 by F. E. Potts CSS XHTML 1.0 Strict