The Float Planes of Alaska

Bristol Bay, located on the Eastern most arm of the Bering Sea, experiences some of the highest tides in the world. That, coupled with its number of sandbars, shoals, and shallows, makes navigation to and from the area difficult. Bristol Bay is home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery as well as strong runs of chum salmon, silver salmon and king salmon, each occurring seasonally. Due to the unpredictable terrains and inability to access many location by car, travel within the area is done mostly by floatplanes. Many small communities don't have airports or safe roads, leaving the only access point via the water. Outside of tourist purposes, floatplanes are used to provide supplies and visitors to unaccessible areas.

On a recent three-week trip to the various fishing locations in Alaska, we were able to take a deeper dive into the popularity of float planes throughout the region and even take a ride in a few. A floatplane is a type of seaplane, with one or more slender pontoons mounted under the fuselage to provide buoyancy. In the winter, floats are able to be swapped out for skis to accommodate for snow or ice. 


The Cessna 208 Caravan is a single-engine turboprop, short-haul regional airliner and utility aircraft that is built in the United States by Cessna. The airplane seats up to 9 passengers with a single pilot. Our Caravan is equipped with amphibious floats allowing it to land on both water and land. It has an engine upgrade increasing power from stock 675 horsepower to 867 horsepower which enables it to perform take offs and landings at high altitude lakes here in Northern British Columbia.

Cessna C-172 Skyhawk: Four-seat, single engine, high wing, fixed wing aircraft made by the Cessna Aircraft Company. Ideal for scouting and sightseeing flights Equipped with a powerful 180 HP engine

The N72412 plane is powered by a Continental O-520 is a six-cylinder, horizontally opposed aircraft engine producing between 285-310 HP

N95DG – Known as the “Wasp Junior” the N95DG plane is a fixed wing single-engine powered by the Pratt&Whitney R-985 Series Motor. A nine-cylinder, air-cooled, radial aircraft engine was built by the brand as a smaller version of the R1340 between the 1930s to the 1950s.

DeHavilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver (DQ-GWW) is a single-engined, high-wing, propeller-driven, short takeoff and landing aircraft developed by DeHavilland Canada. Seats up to seven passengers with a Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Jr. radial engine. 


The Dehavilland Canada DHC-3 Otter is a single-engine, high-wing, turboprop-powered, short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft developed by de Havilland Canada. It was conceived to be capable of performing the same roles as the earlier and highly successful Beaver, but is overall a larger aircraft. Turbine Otters can carry 9 passengers or 2200 lbs of freight. All seats are equipped with intercom allowing communication with the pilot and fellow passengers. Our Otter features panoramic bubble windows that provide unparalleled visibility during our scenic flights over the Northern Rockies and Nahanni National park.

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