Alaska flight-seeing: ‘It isn’t like flying on a commercial airliner’

Regarding Christopher Reynolds’ story “Fears and Flight-Seeing” (June 23) about fatal floatplane crashes in Alaska: We have traveled to Alaska many times over the years, using bush planes on several occasions.

As early as the 1980s, Alaskans were concerned about the number of out-of-state pilots who show up for the summer season. These pilots are not always familiar with Alaska topography and weather. Given the explosion in tourism, I have to think that even more out-of-state pilots are working in the summer.

In 1981, we went on a rafting trip in the Brooks Range. At the end of the trip, we were waiting for a bush pilot to pick us up. We waited more than 24 hours, then found out he had crashed and died. Weather was not a factor.

On another trip, we were in a bush plane about to land at an airport. Just before landing, our pilot had to do an extreme avoidance maneuver because another bush plane decided to take off on the same runway. Our pilot was furious. Again, weather was not a factor.

It isn’t like flying on a commercial airliner. As a tourist, you have no idea who is flying your bush plane or helicopter.


Karen Gustafson

Long Beach

A tip for GPS

Catharine Hamm’s “Best Ways to Navigate, From High Tech to Low” (On the Spot, June 2) perpetrates a misunderstanding about mobile phone GPS access. Mobile phones have access to GPS regardless of the availability of cell service.

The user just needs an app that processes GPS and to download in advance the needed maps.

I used a GPS-enabled iPad to navigate Tuscany for two weeks, never connecting to cell service, using the Navmii app. Before leaving, I entered hotels and destinations in my favorites so they were readily available when in Italy. Google maps also works with maps downloaded in advance.

Your phone is a great GPS-only navigator. You don’t need a separate device.

Paul Dunn

Santa Monica