We are neighbors and friends who share aviation experience, Alaskan adventure and the desire to introduce others to the wonders of Alaska and the experience of flight. Decades of flying in Alaska never grows old but what a special joy it is to see a guest’s eyes open wide and hear the fresh stories that are shared in the evening after a satisfying fun filled day of flying in this great State.
Martin & Toni Hinshaw
Ron & Lisa Galindo
Tim & Yvonne Veenstra
Our instructors are highly experienced Alaskan pilots, each with many thousands of flight hours. For each of us, aviation and flying has been an everyday part of our lives. While it has been the necessity of flying that has gained us our experience, it is from the joy of flying that we desire to share that experience.
Our aviation background is broad and varied; from Mooney Mite to Boeing 747; from hovering to Mach 2; no engines to 4 engines; floats, wheels, skis and skids, we have flown, owned and operated a wide variety of aircraft. Aerodynamics, physics and technique can be studied and taught, but the “feel” of flying has to be learned. Drawing from our own experiences, our aim is to not only teach and explain but ultimately to help facilitate that special moment when you yourself start to sense the environment surrounding you and the aircraft protecting you. You can feel what the aircraft is doing and how it will respond to your touch. There is harmony between you and machine. When that happens, our job is done. Pilot and aircraft are one and the beauty of Alaska comes alive as we explore this great land together.
Aircraft and Adventures:
Our DHC2 Beaver is the Queen our our fleet. She is stately and beautiful in appearance and when she “speaks” the whole lake stops and listens. The Pratt and Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior radial engine produces 450 hp to pull the float equipped Beaver up on to step and into the air with ease. Our Beaver has the rare dual controls so you can fly left seat while your instructor walks you through the finer points of become a Beaver Pilot. Plan to log some PIC time in the Beaver and experience the true freight hauler of backcountry flying.
We have two Cessna 185 Skywagon aircraft; one equipped with amphibious floats and the other with large Alaskan Bushwheels. The Skywagon is considered the pickup truck of backcountry flying. A fuel injected 300 HP and a long 3 bladed prop make the Skywagon feel like a rocket powered pickup truck. Cover your ears if you watch a 185 take-off. The prop tips are starting to break the speed of sound and yes, it can be ear-splitting annoying. We usually request “two turns” as soon as possible to keep the neighbors happy. Two turns of the prop control that is.
The amphibious 185 is used for our ocean flying instruction. All float flying is not created equal, especially here in Alaska. While hip boots and long lines might be necessary for most lake and river flying, ocean flying requires a whole new set of skills and a different knowledge base. Coastal weather, tides currents and vessels are new datasets to be read and understood. When weather permits, we want to take you high over the glacier covered mountains and drop back down to sea level as we explore Prince William Sound. While only 53 NM southeast of the Apex base, Prince William Sound is often a completely different weather system and feels like a different culture. We will give you a taste of the culture, the beauty and the complexities of coastal flying and ocean float operations. This course will expand your horizons and deepen your knowledge and appreciation of our world and of your flying ability.
The Super Cubs
Did I say short? It’s a Super Cub and Super Cubs are, well… Super Cubs are just plain Super, so every takeoff or landing is considered ‘short”. What we used to measure takeoff and landing performance in hundreds of feet we now measure in 10’s of feet. It all started with a 90 hp engine before growing to 125 hp, 135 hp, 150 hp, 160 hp, 180 hp and now our Backcountry Cub boasts a fuel injected 210 hp engine. Tandem seating, slow flying, fantastic visibility, a “stick” instead of “yoke”, the Super Cub is the ubiquitous and quintessential aircraft of Alaska. While you won’t find a lot of Super Cubs in commercial 135 operations, you will find it the most sought after and most common personal aircraft that is used for both hunting and fishing. Flying a Cub is like putting on a comfortable set of boots; it feel right and becomes part of you.
Our float equipped Cub is a Type Certified 180 hp aircraft. We will use this Cub for most initial introductions to float flying. Don’t be fooled though, by no stretch of imagination is the Super Cub just a trainer type aircraft. Some of you will want to do nothing else but command the front seat of the Cub and go explore the Alaskan wilderness and land on lakes that are too small to water ski on. The Cub can haul a load out of most any lake. Except for the intercom, you might forget that your instructor/guide is sitting directly behind you as you and the Cub become one.
Tighten your seatbelt and prepare to second guess your instructor. Our Cub on 35” Alaska Bushwheels is the closest thing to a helicopter with a fixed wing. Our Backcountry Cub needs little more than a few aircraft lengths to slip the surly bonds of earth. Truly amazing, this experimental aircraft will re-define fixed wing flying. Not all techniques learned here can be applied to other aircraft, but the experience will certainly widen your understanding of aerodynamics and make you believe that what might appear impossible is actually possible with the right tools and the right mindset. For most pilots, the first take-off in this aircraft will cause a head shake and a spontaneous laugh. Yup, it’s that fun and new possibilities become almost endless.
Ok, skip short and go directly to vertical. Prove us wrong but we believe that almost anyone can learn to hover a helicopter in a single lesson. Yes, it might help if you are a heavy equipment operator or a drummer but even without a prior base, we will walk you through basic helicopter aerodynamics and controls and then we will light off the turbine and let you learn how to “feel” each control input needed to maintain position and altitude. It’s sort of like learning to ride a bike; if you work at balance with wild control inputs you will wobble down the road, but once you feel the balance, the control input is hardly felt and suddenly without thinking too hard, you will find yourselves maintaining hover. We can practice this on our private runway or we can take a quick 7 NM trip, climbing 4,000 ft to the top of the mountains right behind our facility and practice there. If you are easily distracted by spectacular views though, we suggest starting out on the runway and save the adventure helicopter flying for mountain top berry picking, fossil hunting or possibly a special fishing hole on a river.
We exclusively fly Enstrom helicopters. With an unbeatable safety record and a high inertia rotor system, these easy to fly roomy helicopters have an unbeatable clear view for pilots and passengers alike and offer a true 2 stick cyclic control for that real helicopter feel (and looks). We have an Enstrom 480B turbine helicopter and an Enstrom F28F piston helicopter.
As I write this, the loon family is slowly paddling their way down past the dock. It has been a traumatic year for them. Loons generally come back year after year to the same lake and our pair always show up every May after the ice breaks. Usually, the pair give birth to a single baby loon but this year there were two. We also have two eagles that also live locally and their silent evening flight by the shoreline often spells death to the fledgling loon babies and ducklings. The Bald Eagle; majestic Bird of our Nation is in fact a scavenger and death dealer. This year, as the duck population decreased, the sounds of battle between loon and eagle increased. Fall has proven the loon to be the victor. Both babies are now feathered out and practicing their own diving as they have watched and waited all summer while their parents dove and gathered food for them. Soon they will spread their wings, briefly practice flight and then disappear over the southern horizon. This is part of life on our lake. We invite you to watch the loons from the deck of your cabin as you reminisce over your own days flight or dream of tomorrows adventure. You are welcome to join the loons on the lake with paddle board, canoe, kayak, floating dock (dubbed the MV Lexington); all of these are at your disposal during your downtime. The lake warms quickly in the summer to bathwater temps for swimming and also provides very decent fishing for rainbow trout.
We offer 3 separate housing facilities for our guests.
The Cabin - Located a short walk or paddle from the main Apex Hangar facility, the cabin has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full size kitchen and living area and is completely furnished for your comfort. Perchance you are visiting in the winter you can enjoy in-floor heat or a wood stove for comfort and ambiance. The beautiful A-frame cabin is nestled in a birch tree forest with a broad sweeping view of the lake out the front windows.
The Hangar Loft - The Hangar Loft was finished in the spring of 2018 and as the name suggests, it is a cozy residence above the main Apex hangar. It has two separate sleeping areas, full bath and a kitchenette. You can open the door to the deck and enjoy a spectacular southern view of Visnaw lake. If you dream of airplanes, it could be because you are sleeping directly above them. Or possibly, you just mastered the art of softly kissing the water when you landed the DHC2 Beaver parked on the lake just outside your window.
The Bunkhouse - Don’t worry, it may be called the Bunkhouse but you will still have your own separate room, 2 shared baths and a kitchen area to enjoy. The Bunkhouse was built in 2018 as an addition on the backside of a new hangar. We have 4 separate bedrooms with a full bath upstairs and a kitchen/gathering area and another full bath downstairs. The Bunkhouse is located on the main Apex grounds but set back a short ways from the lake. Your view out your window will be trees but we don’t expect you will be spending much time in your room unless you are there to close your eyes against the midnight sun as you try and rest up for tomorrow’s adventure.