Susan C. Anthony

Alaska Beach Landing

September 24, 2004

Dennis flew with a friend across Cook Inlet and south to a beach where we'd clammed, fished, and explored in the past. The first pass over the beach was just to look for rocks, logs, or other obstacles. There were nine grizzlies fishing just off the beach, not too close to where the guys planned to fish themselves.

On the second pass, Dennis touched down farther down the beach than he planned and realized he couldn't stop the plane a safe enough distance from the bears, so he took off, went around and tried again. Our friend Lee had the presence of mind to videotape the whole process.

Be aware as you watch the video that Dennis wants to land on the dark sand, which is wet, more solid and less likely to be soft. He also wants to approach as slowly as possible, which is why you hear the stall warning quite awhile before he touches down. He's flying by the "seat of his pants". If he feels the plane start to drop, he adds power. Because of the frames per second, it looks as if the propeller goes fast, slow, and even backwards at times. Not to worry.  It's just an illusion.

Unless you've landed in a small plane on a beach, this might be the closest you'll ever come (or want to come). Bush flying like this is the ticket to exploring remote areas of Alaska. This beach is just an hour or so away from Anchorage, yet virtually inaccessible except by plane.

Some years earlier, Dennis landed at this same beach and we caught our limit of fresh silver salmon. While the tide was out (it's just starting to go out in the video above), we dug plenty of clams, and sort of lost track of time. The tide pushed us back in and we had some deep wading to do to get back to the beach.

Go on to read Flight to Western Alaska
Source:, ┬ęSusan C. Anthony