by York
Alaska Floatplane Rating Course in Moose Pass

This turned out to be one of the best flying experiences I’ve ever had!

I learned more about energy management, mountain winds, reading wind on water and slow flight than I had in all my other flying. I HIGHLY recommend these guys if you are interested in getting a float rating or in sharpening your overall flying skills. The instructors all have upwards of 5000 hours on floats and the owner/instructor Vern Kingsford has over 4000 just in the cub we were flying. He has over 16000 hours total and has been flying floats in Alaska for 37 years.

Additionally, you will meet some really interesting folks also taking the course. On this trip we met a research pilot from NASA who flies the 747 with the Space Shuttle on it to ferry it back to FLA. Vern spends a good deal of his time in the off-season in Africa and loves sharing his travel stories. The ready room has pictures of former students among which are astronauts, airline captains, fighter jocks and professional bush pilots.

There is quite a bit of study involved; this is NOT a rating-gimme course. You will have to earn this. You have to complete a 100+ question study guide from which the oral exam will be taken. My girlfriend and I booked the 10-hour option and that felt about right for us. Shorter options are available depending on your experience. We completed the training in about 6 days. You will not have time to do many other activities so bookend a few days for sightseeing the Kenai peninsula while you are there. The scenery is absolutely stunning!

The location is particularly challenging as we had multiple lakes to work on, all in uncontrolled G airspace, so we were able to do rough water, normal water, glassy water takeoffs and landings in actual conditions… often on the same lake at the same time! Since we were right on the lake there was no transit time to the training areas. All of your flight time was spent doing real training.

Again, I cannot recommend these folks highly enough and we are headed back next year for more advanced training.

Check out the photos at Back Country Pilot.