Alaska is a wild haven for aviation enthusiasts. It is both a modern, bustling centre of population and commerce with busy airports, and also a free world of general aviation. It sometimes seems locked in the past, with old piston liners plying cargo routes, and small regional carriers making a good living flying aircraft with a only a few seats. Here are some highlights.
Anchorage Ted Stevens International
The main gateway into Alaska, Anchorage International is a big airport situated fairly close to the largest city in the state. There are a number of spotting locations there – the most famous being at Point Woronzof on West Access Road. This is where those classic shots of freighters departing with the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop are taken. You’ll need a car to get there.
Alternatively, there’s a viewing area inside the South Terminal, and you can get a view of the North Cargo Apron from the street alongside.
Traffic is a mix of Alaska Airlines and other US legacy carriers, and lots of freight airlines from around the world.
Lake Hood Seaplane Base
Situated alongside Anchorage Ted Stevens International, Lake Hood is the world’s busiest seaplane airport. There are literally hundreds of aircraft based here – mainly DHC-2’s and the like. A road runs around the lake, giving you plenty of opportunity to photograph the parked and active aircraft.
Not as busy as Anchorage, Fairbanks is seen as the gateway to the interior. Therefore you’ll see more piston types and lighter aircraft coming and going. The airport is also served by a number of domestic and international airlines. There are a number of spots around the perimeter, and from the terminal area, which lets you see the action.
This small remote airport serves the small town of the same name. It is a vital staging post for the many outlying communities in Alaska, and most of you will know it because of the TV series Flying Wild Alaska. Unalakleet is the home base of Era Alaska Airlines, which flies many light aircraft on passenger and cargo runs throughout Alaska, and also flies turboprops from Unalakleet to Anchorage, Nome, Saint Michael, Shaktoolik. Be sure to pop by and say hello to Jim Tweto! Bering Air also serves the airport.
Juneau International Airport
This is a small regional airport in the south of the state, serving Alaska’s capital. It received airline service from Alaska Airlines, Ward Air, and a number of smaller local carriers. It is also a seaplane base. Many cruise liners stop in Juneau, so if that’s you – pop up to this small airport and have a look around. It’s easy to see aircraft come and go.