Bears, Volcanos, and Beaches. 30+ pictures, 1 movie.

Summer 2015 is well underway and I've not posted anything on the blog in too long.  I've got photos stacking up and I'm starting to loose track of some of the good ones so I want to start sharing them.  I spent a couple of weeks working southwest of Cold Bay, with a group of good friends.  In 14 days we only had two that were really excellent with regard to the weather.  In our daily fight with the the weather, we ended up with a lot of bunkhouse time, but at the end of two weeks the job was accomplished.  I returned from two weeks in cold, wet, windy southwest Alaska to fly in the thick dense smoke of south-central caused by Alaska's dry dry winter and spring.

Ok, I'll be honest, the other reason that I have not been posting on the blog as much is because my nephew got me going on instagram ... sorry about that.  But it's pretty fun, you may want to check out the BlueIceAviation account if you like Alaska pics.  It's easier for me to share the day to day stuff there and save the blog for the big trips around Alaska.  I may even link my Instagram account to the blog so the photos get shared here too.  But for now here are the photos from early June when I was down in Cold Bay.

Refueling in Port Heiden.

Unimak Island with 55 mph winds.  That's water being torn off the top of the lake and lifted hundreds of feet into the air.  Pretty scary actually.

Trying to cross over to Unimak Island from the main land but not loving the cloud cover.

The standard view.

The Crew in the Cold Bay bunkhouse

Back on da' beach.

This photo is out of order, it's returning to Wasilla with a red sun from the Sockeye fire.

Crossing back to Port Heiden as the temperature dew point meet.

This is my desk when I am at work.

Flying by Shishaldin Volcano at 9600'

The Caldera on Unimak Island.

Ernie cruising along in the cub with Shishaldin in the back ground.

Refueling on the beach.

Huge waves on the Pacific side of Unimak on a not very nice weather day.  That was the first blue patch I had seen in days!

Where the ocean meets the sky.

This poor whale got to close to the shore I guess.  He was huge!

Oil change on the ramp.

Little foxy checking us out.

Good pic of buddy Nick.

This is that poor whale the day it washed up.

A couple of cubs of the year with momma.

Powow on the beach.

The 185 with the arch in the background.

The brown bear (high center) had no luck with dinner (five caribou).  The bou just hung around to torment him.  He was old and slow. 

High on Unimak.

Picking up bouy balls.

Hmmm where should we go next?

Fueling in Port Moller before crossing the water.

Another bear with a cub on the tundra.

Waiting on weather in King Salmon.

Port Alsworth Fly-In THIS WEEKEND!

To all of my winged friends, and friends without wings too ... So, to all my friends, you should go to Port Alsworth this weekend for the fly-in.  Games, food, landing competition, fun-run, film festival, great people, good times.  DO IT!

Fat Boys and Fly Bikes. Pictures and Video!

I put a factory remanufactured engine (Continental IO-520-D) in the Cessna 185 last October.  I upgraded from the 260hp to the 300hp engine and I am loving it.  I've only got about 140 hours on this new engine and I noticed it has been running a tiny bit lean when operating down at sea level.  So this morning I woke up to clear skies and calm winds and decided it would be a good day to tweak the fuel system.  I made the adjustments with a 5/32 allen wrench and then pushed the 185 outside to take it for a flight and see if I needed to tweak it further.  As I was getting ready to depart I decided it would be a shame to waste such a beautiful morning with just a simple flight.  So I ran up to the house and grabbed my backpack, my camera, my 10mm glock, and a water bottle.  Then I threw the fat bike in the back of the plane "just in case" I needed to land and tweak the fuel system again.  About that time my brother-in-law Dave stopped by and I talked him into joining me with Samantha's fat bike.  So, on a total whim, we departed on a biking adventure at 9:30 this morning.  I think we did more talking than riding, because we are both getting old and fat and lazy.  But it was an awesome time none the less.  I do love having family nearby.  I took some fun pictures with my new wide angle lens, tweaked the fuel system a bit more, then went home to eat tacos with the girls ... now that is an excellent Saturday morning.  Thankful.

I really love tearing around with a fat bike in the bush.  I made a video more than a year ago, and have never taken the time to put it on youtube ... what a looser.  So as I am typing this it is finally uploading. I will post last year's video with today's photos.  Enjoy.

Brand New Blue Ice Aviation Website!! Follow the link.

For the new Website click here!  

A few months ago my buddies at and I decided to a new look.  We have completely redesigned everything and I am stoked about it.  This is the 4th version of the Blue Ice Aviation web site and I couldn't be happier.  We did a major simplification of the site, and made it reflect my business more accurately.  If you need "web stuff" done contact my buddies Dave and Jon, they are awesome!

I have been out of town most of the month of April.  I was on a flying job in Southwest Alaska.  I toted my new DSLR camera with me everywhere I went, and came away with some fun new pics,  you'll see them below.  

Overall the job went well, but it was not without it's challenges.  After 5 days of flying, the weather got bad enough that we spent Easter Sunday sitting in the bunkhouse in Dillingham telling lies to each other in the form of flying stories. (a pilot's favorite pass time when not in the cockpit).  We eventually gave up on being productive, left our airplanes in a hangar in Dillingham, and flew home commercially while the weather sorted itself out.  This was a nice break because I was missing my girls anyways.  We returned to Dillingham on the 11th and spent another 6 days cruising around the AK peninsula and Tikchik mountains.  All-in-all the weather treated us well-enough and we were able to accomplish the goal.  I got home on Ali's 5th birthday which was awesome!

Entering Merrill Pass.

Sneaking home through Lake Clark Pass.

The red track shows 3 days of flying.

After refueling on the lake.

Mike bucking snow on his way back into the air.

We spend all day talking on the radio it's always nice to get on the ground for a few minutes.

Departing Ugashik.

Warming up for lift off.

Some of the locals came out to visit.

The Ugashik Post Office.

Mike refueling.

Inside Aniakchak crater, a perfect circle.

Surprise Lake in Aniakchak Crater.

Sneaking through the hills looking for caribou.

Surprise Lake in Aniakchak Crater.

Weather, weather, weather.

Changing oil in the Pride Hangar in Dillingham.

Spitting snow in Koliganek, time to head for the barn.

Mike landing in Koliganek.

Costal Alaskan weather in April.

A new strip we found.

Super Cub leading the helicopter.

Mike taking off in the Super Cub with the helicopter close in trail.

You know I love Blue Ice.

Landing in Lime Village.

Cool peaks coming into Merrill Pass.

Nice to be home in the hangar.

Preparing to catch a snooze in the back of the 185.

Light Snow, generators, cool mornings, King Salmon, AK.

A partial group photo 75 miles South of Bethel.

One of the groups of caribou.

I made it home for Ali's 5th birthday!!

One of my favorite things ... a dad sandwich.

Mae helping unpack the airplane and carry my bags to the house.

My girls :o)

Capturing Sheep.

I just spent spent 5 days in the air, and I don't remember seeing a single cloud.  It has been a stunningly warm stretch of cloudless calm days.  I was working with Troy Cambier, owner of Chena River Aviation, and ADFG.  We stayed at our house on Sheep Mountain and worked in the surrounding mountains.  It was a successful project, and we were all very thankful for the perfect weather window.  Below are several photos of the helicopter working with the animals.  I was in the Super Cub overhead flying cover, and locating new animals in workable areas.  The fixed wing generally has the easy job.  While the ground crew is working their butts off, I'm circling overhead eating a PBJ sandwich and making snide remarks about their efficiency.  It's only because I'm jealous, I know I'll never be as cool as a helicopter pilot or a net-gunner.  :)  And they always get their revenge.  Good times had by all!

Making the move.

Troy picking up the biologists.

You can see the sheep in front of the helicopter.

It's hard work moving the animals out of the steeps and into terrain like this.

Departing Meekin's strip at Sheep Mountain.

This was almost an awesome photo ... but I was not fast enough.

After a long weekend's work.

Landing at the house.

One workup zone was not quite as ideal ... it all comes with the territory.

Not a bad back drop.

Troy trying to decide if he is going to sun himself, or go fly the helicopter.

One Of My Favorite Photos Ever. Wolves, wolverines, Wind.

I flew all day looking for sheep.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, and I also found a couple of small wolf packs.  They were up in the high country running around with the sheep and caribou and probably having the time of their lives with this thin snow pack.  The most impressive thing was watching the dark wolf (pictured below) climbing a nearly vertical snow face!  There is no doubt, us two legged critters just can't compete.  Really fun stuff to watch.

Last week we tracked down a few wolverines and I posted a couple photos below.  This job followed our largest 2015 snow fall in South Central Alaska, so the landing zones were a little sketchy at best.  The lakes were over-flow traps, and the hill sides were bottomless ice crystal pits.  The problem is that you can't fly for eight ours with out eventually stopping to pee ... so, my buddy Ernie was kind enough to finally land and stomp us out a place to stop with his snow shoes.  

I'm thankful to be working again, it's been another long Alaskan winter ... But that's why we love it up here :o)

This is the picture that is one of my favorites.  Look at that black wolf going nearly vertical in the snow headed for that huge cornice.

Another dark wolf.

First day back up at Sheep Mountain.

Another pair of wolves I found today climbing around at 6400'.

Headed home after a beautiful day at work.

Descending into the Matanuska Valley this evening from high in the Talkeetnas.

This was taken last week after the snow-fall.

One of the wolverines we found.

Same wolverine far below my ski.

The wind blew pretty good for several days, but it was manageable.  Of course it is always discouraging when a zippy 60 mph ground speed is reason for rejoicing.

Not Scenic, but Super Cool, A Bunch of Wolves

I was on a job a few weeks ago and we were looking for wolves.  We found a couple of caribou kills, and then followed the tracks.  We were pretty pumped when we caught 16 wolves climbing up out of the drainage.  I think they were full enough on caribou meat that they were not moving very fast.  The first photo shows 11 of the wolves, but there were 3 more above them and 2 below.  That was the biggest pack I have ever seen, and I've got to admit, I was pretty excited.  

This photo reminded me that a few years ago I was radio tracking dall sheep in the Chugach mountains when we found a couple of wolves camped out on a mountain peak lounging in the sun.  Interestingly, not far below them was a dozen sheep standing very still above the cliffs, trying not to move.  They were probably pretty safe from the two wolves, but I did not envy their position.  Luckily, I managed to get a picture and you can see it here.

Lots of really cool stuff to see in this state, and I have not even begun to scratch the surface. 

Yesterday Sure Was Nice.

I spent the daylight hours airborne.  I never hit a bump and I never saw a cloud in nearly 7 hours.  Denali was huge on the horizon, and the temperatures were a mild 15 degrees.  It may not be much of an authentic Alaskan winter ... but it certainly has it's upside.  

Talkeetna Mountains with Denali on the horizon.

Descending down into The Mat-Valley.

Long shadows on the Talkeetnas.

Denali, with the Talkeetnas in the foreground.

No Snow. No Problem. Fat Bike.

This tradition is at least a decade old, maybe two decades.  It's MLK day, so we celebrate.  Usually it involves skis and guns.  This year, with the lack of snow, skis were not really an option.  So we went Fat/Stud-biking.  I did not fall under the "stud" category, so I tried to slip into the "fat" category.  Not a problem.  My friends were starting on a slippery lake, so I by-passed the lake with the Super Cub and tried to meet them on the gravel bar of the Knik.  I ended up navigating a frozen creek trying to locate them on the ground, and it's a miracle I did not break a hip.  If you've never peddled a bike wondering if ice thickness or traction is your greatest enemy ... you're smarter than me.  Good-times had by all.  Here's the pics.

Thanks Speedway cycles for selling me an affordable fat-bike!

Correction: DSLR Does Fit Out Cub Window.

I took both planes out for a walk this morning.  Ali's been hounding me to go flying so I figured I needed to quit being a bad dad and take the girl up!  You see, this time of year is really slow for us.  Both planes pretty much just sit there, and it's not good for the engines.  So occasionally I will tape the oil cooler off (in order to ensure my oil temps actually reach at least 180 degrees), and then take them out for a cruise.

I took big dog (the DSLR) with me ... and Ali was not impressed when I opened the window.  Cabin temperature dropped significantly, but she is a tough girl.  I also went up the Knik, and was impressed by the utter lack of snow.  Then I came home to my nice warm hangar which I am so very thankful for.  The heated hangar is largely to blame for the lack of photos being posted these days.  I've pretty much had my tool belt on since October 1st.  My only complaint is that I am so excited about my hangar I can barely sleep at night, and I'm getting tired.  I'm very thankful.  Here's a couple pics.

My fingers got cold.

The Chugach.

The "Blue Ice" of the Knik.

Lake George and Colony Glacier.

The Gorge

The Matanuska River, and Palmer's lack of snow.

My Little Buddy.

I'm very fond of this view.

The Hangar.