USA 2012

Talkeetna & Glacier flight

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Twice I attempted to make a flight from here, during visits in 1995 and 2003, but the weather did not coöperate then. This time it all worked out fine!




(June 17th)


deHavilland DHC-2 N93DG (c/n 601, manufactured 1953) was reg'd to Aircraft Marketing & Leasing LLC (Fairbanks,AK) on 09Apr2009 and is leased here by Sheldon Air Service. Must admit I felt a bit guilty having booked with K2 Aviation for the glacier flight, as with my keen interest in history it woul dhave been far more fitting to fly with the legacy of Don Sheldon!
Maybe next time.
Donald "Don" Edward Sheldon (21Nov1921 - 26Jan1975) was a famous Alaskan bush pilot who pioneered the technique of glacier landings in and around Mt. McKinley throughout the 1950s and 1960s. From his base in Talkeetna, Alaska, he operated Talkeetna Air Service, which ferried climbers, hunters, fishermen, and others to places inaccessible to ground transportation. Over the years, he assisted in numerous rescue operations, both civilian and military, and was awarded an Alaska Certificate of Achievement for his help. [Wikipedia]

c/n 601 was delivered 12Dec54 as CF-HGY to B. C. Yukon Air Service. During 1982 the registry was changed to Air BC.
As C-FHGY it was leased to Coval Air and next was Baxter Aviation Ltd (Nanaimo,BC).
It entered US Registry as N93DG on 09Apr92 and since then has served a variety of operators, such as
Rust's (Lake Hood) as recent as 2007.



N8134G is deHavilland DHC-2 c/n 1410 (manufactured 1959) and registered since 28Nov2011 to Nikolaus Steiger LLC (Talkeetna,AK).
Photos on Neil Aird's wonderful website show it at Kashwitna Lake,AK: a much more natural habitat for the Beaver than high and dry on the tarmac!

Talkeetna Bushplanes

Talkeetna bushplanes

N777T DHC-2 Beaver



N510PR of Talkeetna Air Taxi is seen taxiing to the ramp of Talkeetna's small airport.
This vintage deHavilland DHC-3 Otter (c/n 250) has been converted to a modern turbo-engined bushplane and is since 12Dec08 reg'd to its present operator.
From Lars Opland Collection: 'Produced with a 600 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340 piston engine for India, the aircraft was delivered to the Indian Supply Mission on April 22, 1958, serialed IM-1731. It came on the Australian civil register on November 13, 1997, as VH-OTV, and was subsequently converted to a DHC-3-T turbine-powered aircraft when fitted with a 750 shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A engine. December 12, 2008 it was registered in the USA as N510PR.'



I love these bushplanes with their huge size tundra tires!
N6549Z is a Piper PA-18-150 (c/n 18-7879), manufactured in 1962 and registered since 10Feb2009 to Larry R. Rivers (Talkeetna,AK).
In case you wonder where I get this info: FAA's FAA Registry website


N727KT is seen departing from warm and sunny Talkeetna, but effects of winter are still visible: that pile of white stuff in the foreground is a pile of snow!
K2 Aviation is a subsidiary of Rust's Aviation in Anchorage (Lake Hood). N727KT DHC-3T (c/n 419) was reg'd to Rustair Inc on 31Jul2002.


C/n 419 was delivered to the Union of Burma Air Force on 28Nov1961 with serial UB659. The Air Force took delivery of 9 Otters, 3 in Dec. 1958 and a further batch of 6 in 1960/61. All were packed into crates and shipped to Burma, where they were re-assembled and entered service.
The Burmese Otters were withdrawn from service in 1985 and stored.

In 1989 six of the Burmese Otters were purchased by Mr Trevor Ross of Vancouver.
All six were shipped to Vancouver, where they were stored in the Aeroflite Industries hangar at the International Airport and offered for sale. They had all arrived in Vancouver by early December 1989. The buyer of Otter 419 was Pro Mech Air Inc of Ketchikan, Alaska. The Otter was first registered N472PM in March 1991 to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc of Kenmore, Seattle who prepared the Otter for its delivery, and it was then registered to Pro Mech Air in May 1991 and entered service with them, based at Ketchikan. The Otter flew for Pro Mech Air for more than three years, until sold to Wipaire Inc of Inver Grove, Minnesota. It left Ketchikan on delivery to its new owners on 29th September 1994 and was registered to them that month.
Wipaire Inc, one of the world's leading manufacturers of aircraft floats, used the Otter to test and certify its new Wipline 800 floats, both straight and amphibious. The testing was done at their facilities in Minnesota. Once the FAA had issued the STC on the new floats, the Otter was sold. The purchaser was Taquan Air Service Inc of Ketchikan, to whom the Otter was sold in March 1995, on Wipline 8000 amphibious floats.
Otter N472PM returned to its previous base at Ketchikan, arriving on 01May1995 on its ferry flight from Minnesota.
For conversion to a Vazar turbine, the work was performed by Island Flight Support Ltd at Victoria, BC and N472PM then continued flying as a turbine for Taquan Air until the company ceased operations as a result of financial difficulties in Dec.1999.
N472PM was one of a number of aircraft put up for sale at auction by the receiver of Taquan Air in May 2000. It was on EDO 7170 floats, which had replaced the Wipline 8000s. It was advertised as having a total time of 10,184 hours on the airframe, with its PT-6A engine having a total time of 7,081 hours and being in need of overhaul. It did not sell at the auction and was reported in August 2000 as "sitting forlornly on the lower ramp at Ketchikan Airport, minus propeller and with a timed-out engine".
The receiver arranged for the Otter to be ferried to Anchorage, Alaska where a new engine was installed. It was advertised again for sale in March 2001 with a zero timed engine, asking price US$840,000 and 'ready to work'.
On 09May 2001 it was reg'd to American Aeromotive & Aero Energy Technologies Inc of Dover, DE who had supplied the engine, but remained parked at Anchorage and for sale by the receiver of Taquan Air.
It was eventually sold to Anchorage-based Rustair Inc, to whom it was registered on 31July02, the registration being changed the following day from N472PM to N727KT.
It joined K2 Aviation, which is a division of Rustair Inc but based at the Talkeetna Airport.
The is used to fly tourists and climbers to glaciers in the Alaska Mountain Range, as well as to fly sightseers around Mount McKinley, flying up to 20,000 feet - the Otter is oxygen-equipped.
- by Karl E. Hayes

Talkeetna, Alaska

N929KT is DHC-3 (c/n 461), converted to turbo-prop power. It has been registered to Rustair Inc since 09Sep11.
The history of this Turbo Otter dates back to 1966, when it was first delivered to the Tanzanian Air Force. Karl E. Hayes has written a detailed history, which one can find on my website HERE...



Talkeetna, Alaska

N323KT is prime radial power and is seen returning from a trip among the snow-clad mountains.
DHC-2 c/n 1022 was manufactured in 1957 and has been registered to Rust Properties LLC since 19Aug1999.
The following information was copied from Neil Aird's comprehensive website:
Delivered 15/01/57 as 56-0353 to the US ARMY (type L-20). It was stored at Davis Monthan 30Jul72 to 28Feb77.
Reg'd as N99128 in Jan.1977 for Summit Aviation, Middletown, DE
Then it became C-FBDQ, reg'd 29Feb88 and 16Jul90, for Air-Sask Aviation, Pinehouse, SK (La Ronge, SK)
Reg'd 18Nov91 for William R. and Lorraine Marie Perrey of Courtenay, BC.
It returned to US Registry as N10RM in April 1992 for RMH Aeroservices Inc. (Orem, UT)
And in 1999, as stated above, as N323KT for Rust Properties LLC. (Anchorage, AK)

Sadly, N323KT crashed 04Aug2018. The aircaft impacted a snow covered mountain; some on board are believed to have survived the crash with injuries, but perished awaiting rescue. Weather prevented rescue efforts.


Talkeetna, Alaska

DHC-2 N777T (c/n 859) is reg'd to Thomas Henry Wilson III of Anchorage, AK since 20Jun07.
A brief history again by (try the link for more photos).
Delivered 03Feb56 as 54-1713 to the US ARMY (designated L-20).
Stored at Davis Monthan 29Dec71 to 09Feb76 and reg'd N99871 for William Morse of Grand Rapids, MI.
Its present tailnumber N777T was assigned in Oct.1987 for St. Cloud Aviation Inc. of St. Cloud, MN.
At some point it went to Alaska Frontier Resort Inc. (Illiamna, AK) and in 2007 to its present owner.


Talkeetna, Alaska

More Beavers: N144Q of Talkeetna Air Taxi. This is DHC-2 c/n 1465 (mfr 1961), reg'd 16Jul04.
The history on shows this bird crashed twice!
Delivered 21/03/61
* N144Q de Havilland, New York
* Noted 12/06/77 @ Kenmore, WA., orange & white, on floats
* Data plate reads DHC-2 Mk 1 c/n 1465 accepted Mar 13, 1961
* Kenmore Air Harbor Inc., in 1985
* Chris Goll / Rainbow River Lodge, Anchorage, AK
* Crashed 08/08/95 after an aborted landing nr Crosswind Lake, AK ANC95LA132
* Noted by author 09/95 on wheels no damage, with a replacement door, starboard side
* A/W 05/12/95
* Sheryl L. Williams, Anchorage, AK
* Regd 13/06/96
* Crashed 20/09/02 Bethel, AK ANC02LA123
* Talkeetna Air Taxi Inc., Talkeetna, AK
* Regd 16/07/04


Talkeetna, Alaska

N561TA is DHC-2 c/n 581.
Delivered 31Dec1953 as CF-HGV to Maritime Central Airways (Wikipedia).
A photo on shows CF-HGV with Wilderness titles in 1975. By then it had changed the eastcoast for the Westcoast (B.C.).
A leap to 1987 shows being reg'd on 24Apr87 to Northern Lights College of Dawson Creek, BC. Its registry was cancelled 28Feb02.
Talkeetna Air Taxi reg'd it on 26Jun02.


Glacier flight from Talkeetna,AK
"Bush ops' on a glacier! I think it is called the Don Sheldon Amfitheatre here.
Don Sheldon's cabin was visibile on a rock outcrop.

Glacier flight Mt McKinley

Glacier flight
DHC-2 Beaver N114Q is seen departing, quickly gathering speed on the downward slope.

Glacier flight

Glacier flight
We flew up with N424KT, piloted by Chris, it was an impressive experience and I can recommend to everybody!

N424KT is c/n 338. Karl E. Hayes wrote a monograph with the individual histories of the DHC-3 Otter.

DHC-3 Otter c/n 338 was delivered to the US Army on 28July1959 with serial 58-1719 (tail number 81719). It was delivered from Downsview to Fort Rucker, AL, to the Army Aviation Board, and carried TATSA titles (Transportation Aircraft Test & Support Activity).

By January 1962 81719 was assigned to Fort Benning,GA and in July 1963 it re-joined the Army Aviation Board at Fort Rucker. It continued in use at Fort Rucker as a test support aircraft until February 1966 when it went to Vietnam, joining the 54th Aviation Company.

It returned to the US in August 1966, arriving at the ARADMAC Depot, Corpus Christi, TX where it went into serviceable storage. In May 1969 it was issued to the Army Security Agency, Test & Evaluation Centre, Fort Huachuca,AZ for use on an “Intelligence and Classified Project”…

The aircraft in fact went to Lakehurst NAS,NJ where it was modified under a project named ‘Sore Thumb’.
This was the first attempt at a 360 degree VHF Direction Finder using a “spinning Adcock array”. The modification involved a large antenna under the fuselage. The Project was however unsuccessful and never progressed beyond the R&D stage. The Otter was restored to its original configuration and served at Fort Huachuca as a test support aircraft.
This use at Fort Huachuca continued until Feb. 1974, at which stage the Otter was assigned to the Army in Alaska. On the ferry flight north, it suffered engine failure at Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory and required an engine change. Rather than incur this expense, and as the Otter was not destined to serve with the Army for much longer, it was decided to sell the aircraft, which was advertised for sale ‘as is, where is’ (that is, in Watson Lake, Yukon and needing a new engine).

At that stage of its career, 81719 had 5,823 hours on the airframe.
The purchaser of the Otter was Air Craftsmen Ltd of St.John, New Brunswick, a company which traded in Otters and specialized in purchasing former military aircraft and refurbishing them. They sent a mechanic to Watson Lake to work on the aircraft, change the engine and get the aircraft fit for flight.

On 07Feb75 registration C-GLES was provisionally allocated to Air Craftsmen Ltd
and painted on the Otter in yellow paint, on the Army olive drab colour scheme. A ferry permit was issued that day for a flight from Watson Lake to St.John. That was later changed however when the Otter was sold to Northern Thunderbird Air Ltd of Prince George,BC.

On 07May75, a ferry permit was issued for a flight from Watson Lake to Prince George and C-GLES was registered to Northern Thunderbird Air Ltd the following day. The Otter then went to Edmonton for overhaul, and to Vancouver where it was painted in Northern Thunderbird Air colour scheme by West Coast Air.

It then returned to Prince George and entered service with Northern Thunderbird Air, replacing Otter CF-GCV which had crashed in October 1974.
C-GLES remained in service with Northern Thunderbird Air from 1975 until sold to St.Cloud Aviation Inc of St.Cloud, Minnesota by Bill of Sale dated 20Oct84 for $110,000. At that stage of its career, it had a total airframe time of 11,357 hours.

The Canadian registration was cancelled on 07Nov'84 and the Otter registered to its new owners as N338D.

The aircraft was sold on almost immediately, to Wayne C. Alsworth of Port Alsworth,AK to whom it was reg’d in January 1985. He operated a general cargo and aircraft salvage business, known as “Wayne's Aircraft Salvage”, also known as “Otter Air Cargo”, based at Port Alsworth. His business frequently involved landing in remote bush locations with heavy loads, and he was concerned with the lack of adequate power for this work from the P&W R-1340 six hundred horse power engine.
Having flown N338D during 1985 and 1986 in Northern Thunderbird colours with ‘Wayne's Aircraft Salvage’-titles, he decided to re-engine the Otter with a Wright Cyclone R-1820 engine, rated at 1,200 horse power, the engine which powers the Douglas DC-3.

This work was undertaken at Merrill Field, Anchorage during the early part of 1987. All the design, planning and actual conversion work was undertaken by Mr Alsworth himself. The engine mount was custom built. The cowling came from a Lockheed Lodestar. The cowl flaps came from a DC-3 and were modified to fit the installation. The
propeller came from a Grumman Albatross. The Otter's trademark exhaust augmenter system was completely revamped and there was a huge single exhaust port on the right side. The prop spinner came from an aviation surplus house. There were some control modifications in the cockpit, but perhaps most significant was the change in weight and balance. The new engine was 400 pounds heavier than the old one, requiring the engine to be recessed closer to the firewall and the battery box to be relocated in the tail, to preserve the balance. There was no hydraulic accessory pump, so the flaps and skis would have to be hand pumped.

Mr Alsworth was aiming for experimental status first and after he had flown several hundred hours, he would review matters and decide whether to go for full certification. Exactly how far he got in all this is not known, but perhaps not surprisingly, his ambitious but somewhat make-shift conversion was not certified and the Otter was converted back to its original R-1340 powerplant.

It was leased to Sound Adventures Air Service Inc during 1988 to 1990. This company operated from Lake Hood, adjacent to the Anchorage International Airport, and also flew Otters N90627 (106) and N8510T (307).
In late 1990 the Otter returned off lease to Wayne Alsworth, and he sold it in early 1991 to Dan Michel of Sterling,AK for operation by his company, All West Freight Inc, who already had Otter N26DE (26).

On a date unknown in early 1992, N338D crashed at Sterling and the wreck was
dumped in the All West Freight hangar.
Having lain at Sterling, Alaska since its crash in 1992, in August 2005 the
Otter was sold by All West Freight Inc to a Mike Spisak of Kotzebue,AA who
also bought Otter N26DE (26) at the same time. Both Otters were carried off in trucks
from Sterling. N338D was registered to Northern Aircraft Leasing LLC of Cheyenne,WY
on 08Aug05.
N338D was rebuilt over the winter of 2005/06, retaining the R-1340 engine, and
entered service with Mavrik Aire of Soldotna,AK who also operate Walter-powered
turbine Otter N103SY (296).

N338D continued in service with Mavrik Aire until an incident on 22Aug06, when it suffered engine failure approximately 6 miles northeast of the Kenai Municipal Airport, and force landed on swampy terrain.
Three months after the forced landing, N338D was still stuck in the swamp. It had been further damaged by high winds while on the ground.
During mid-December 2006, the Otter was disassembled and flown out by helicopter.
It was taken to Kenai for rebuild.

N338D remained at the Kenai Airport during 2007 and was noted there in June
2007 without engine. It was advertised for sale that month, as having 12,000 hours on
the airframe and having had its last annual check in August 2005. The asking price
was US$550,000 with an additional $25,000 for a spare engine.

The Otter was sold to Rustair Inc of Anchorage and registered to its new owner on 07Jan08. Rustair is the parent company of Rusts Flying Service of Anchorage, which already operates three turbine Otters.

N338D was converted to a turbine Otter by Kal Air (Vernon,BC).
Reg’d 07Jan08 Rustair Inc (Anchorage,AK) as N424KT.


Alaska Aviation Museum, Lake Hood
Don Sheldon, the famous glacier pilot of Talkeetna.
The aviation history and pioneering spirit of Alaska aviation
can be enjoyed with a visit to the Alaska Aviation Museum at Lake Hood.

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USA 2012

'Pacific Northwest & Alaska'




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