“It has been a 47 year aviation dream of mine to obtain my Seaplane Rating in “Real Alaska Bush Mountain Flying,” because I wanted to do it right! Anyone can just check off obtaining a Seaplane Rating in the minimum time in an area that doesn’t present challenging conditions.
However, Moose Pass, Alaska offers one of the most spectacular places, which is surrounded by snow covered mountains, numerous multi color blue lakes and an abundance of wildlife…where there isn’t a Control Tower, ATIS, Unicom or a Windsock.
Magnificent natural beauty describes the environment of Alaska Float Ratings in Moose Pass, Alaska. As a recently retired Boeing 777, 35 year Captain for United Airlines with approximately 27,000 flight hours, including prior experience aa a Check Airman, Simulator Instructor, Corporate and Flight Instructor experience, I had no prior knowledge of Seaplane and Bush Flying in the mountains of Alaska.
I contacted Vern well in advance a few times to find out what I needed to study in advance to provide the best preparation prior to the start of training. Vern was very helpful in providing the proper guidance. I devoted a tremendous amount of self-studying and preparation for my flight lessons prior to and during flight training. The self study preparation covered a wealth of material, which was a huge challenge, but extremely rewarding. If I wasn’t able to research the information successfully, I scheduled Ground Instruction with an instructor. All of the instructors are very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. The more you out into this course, the more you’ll get out of it.
This unique environment offers numerous lakes within close proximity, which are surrounded by magnificent mountains. This provides a constantly changing and challenging environment where the winds can be prevailing in several directions, even on the same lake! You will encounter up and downdrafts from the surrounding mountains and valleys. Without a Control Tower, ATIS, Unicom or a Windsock, you must determine the wind direction and velocity direction of takeoff and landing and the type of takeoff and landing. That’s where the challenge starts and fun begins!
Based on the water conditions and wind, you’ll have to determine what type of takeoff and/or landing is desired: Normal, Rough Water, Glassy Water or Confined Space.
Alaska Float Plane Ratings in Moose Pass Alaska offers the best location, instructors and equipment nestled in the most picturesque and challenging mountainous terrain. You will take off and land on numerous close by lakes with challenging winds and weather. The mountains, shorelines and approaches offer a wide variety of challenging mountain flying. You can complete your training in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub Seaplane or a Cessna 172 Seaplane.
Excellent professional flight instruction plus many hours of self study prepared me very well for a very successful oral exam and checkride. Vern did an excellent job in providing a safe, professional and pro”
Unparalleled Learning Environment
I recently earned my seaplane rating from Alaska Float Ratings and would highly recommend the operating for both the instruction and the setting. Vern Kingsford has managed to create the single best learning environment that I have ever experienced, which surpasses my prior experiences at a college prep school, Ivy League university and on-the-job training at top Wall Street firms. Vern’s level of knowledge of floatplane flying, mountain flying / weather and bush flying is unparalleled…he’s been a seaplane designated pilot examiner for nearly FIFTY YEARS, and is passionate about making sure that AFR students learn to fly floats safely and proficiently. This course is a minimum of 8 hrs total (most other operations are 5-6 max)….this is the school to attend in order to learn, not to receive a guaranteed rating. As far as the setting, check out the site pics. You’ll be learning while flying between mountain lakes and through mountain passes…the setting is absolutely unparalleled.
Quick rebuttal of Tom’s review
Apparently Tom failed his float checkride (administered by the owner), and has decided to complain about the operation as retribution
Restaurant proximity: why should a flight school be blamed for a student’s poor research and planning? Yes, Moose Pass is small. Yes, Seward is a half-hour away. Alaska Float Ratings does not advertise itself as an all-inclusive resort, and there are plenty of grocery stores in both Seward and Anchorage to stock up on supplies
Number of instructors / planes: AFR is a small, family-type operation, and if you’re looking for a small group of people that genuinely care about your development as a pilot, it couldn’t be any better. If you’re looking for a large academy / pilot mill with a fleet of aircraft and hangar full of instructors that may or may not remember your name, there are other operators that offer such an environment
If you could imagine flying in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, surrounded by majestic mountains, deep blue lakes around every ridge, seeing the big Alaskan brown bears, moose, bald eagles and big horn sheep on almost every flight, combined with the best float plane instruction you can get…..then you might be getting close to what its like to get your float plane rating at Vern’s school. It’s nothing short of amazing.
As a captain for Delta Airlines with over 18000 hours of flying time and prior experience in the USAF, night freight, corporate, and flight instructing, I was the low man on the ladder experience wise. The wisdom, expertise, and generations of experience that Vern and his flight instructors pass on to his students is invaluable. They’ve been teaching for a long time and their system and method of instruction are very well thought out and organized. Vern’s school is one of the most thorough, professional and safety conscious programs I’ve ever attended. I was challenged and I worked hard preparing both before and during the program, but there’s a saying in life that the more you put into something the more you get out of it and that definitely applies to his program. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life…..like a good movie that you never want to end.
The day I finished my check ride my instructor and I flew up to this little hidden gem of a lake and caught rainbow trout on almost every cast. We were catching and releasing them but one got hooked pretty deep and didn’t survive. It was floating about 10 yards in front of us when a bald eagle swooped down with its talons extended and snatched it off the surface. It was a National Geographic moment.
Bottom line: I can’t imagine learning to fly float planes anywhere in the world that would surpass the experience at Verns school in Moose Pass.
Two friends and I came here for five days. I came to get my SES add-on to my PPL, one friend with ATP/Multi/Rotor/instrument, thousands of hours, several turbine type ratings, and a 20-year-old SES came to brush up on his skills, and the other is a beginning Student Pilot working on his Private.
First and foremost, I learned more about flying in the five days I spent at AFR than I ‘ve learned in the past 35 years of recreational piloting. And while I may not fly floats often after I leave here, the skills and knowledge I have acquired here, so critical to solid and safe floatplane piloting, will serve me in literally every other aspect of my land-based flying.
AFR has it all; solid airplanes (Super Cubs, 172, 206), experienced and skillful instructors who are there because they love to teach and not because they’re trying to build hours, an owner who REALLY cares about my safety once he turns me loose out of here (and is a bit eccentric, but direct and friendly–the kind of person with whom I typically become friends.
The bonus part about doing your SES here at AFR is the scenery and the chance to do (and LEARN) some real mountain flying at the same time. You will spend your lessons hopping in and out of some of the most gorgeous lakes anywhere, and if you extend your package just a bit, you can really get out and see glaciers, ice fields and the Seward seashore in stunning, up-close detail!
A word about reviews from offended folks–Get over yourself. Are you coming here to made to feel good, or to learn how to really fly, from the best? Being offended is your personal choice…if you can’t put that away during your time here, quite simply, don’t come. At $4,000 or more, it’s a serious investment and the only thing I care about is leaving here a better, safer pilot. I didn’t come here spending that kind of dough to be coddled or have my feelings massaged.
Hands down, if you’re considering your float rating, or your just in the middle or early stages of your Private Pilot’s License, consider spending some time with Vern and his crew–It will serve you the rest of your days on the stick or behind the yoke. I guarantee it!
Professional airline jet pilot and ex instructor here.
Verne has got an absolutely excellent outfit here. He was able to provide a short introductory float plane flight for myself whilst my travel party were whisked away on a great scenic flight.
His instructors are professional, knowledgeable, friendly and all business. The aircraft are well kept just like the rest of the facilities.
We were provided with exactly what we requested. My instructor knew exactly where to go for the weather to get the most flying for my $.
Having been on both sides of both small fans large flying schools and airlines, I can highly recommend Verne and AFR.
For anyone who is new to general aviation (aka little planes) they are limited by weather more so than large aircraft, so we had great results by calling ahead and discussing our requirements! The old saying -“if you have time to spare, go by air” springs to mind.
Definitely worth a visit!
I hope all is well in Moose Pass. I just wanted to drop you a message and share a picture of Jamie and I at the Juneau airport pond dock.
When I took this flying job in Juneau last year I recognized Jamie but I couldn’t remember where I had met her. During later discussions about her as a Beaver driver, we finally realized that we had Moose Pass in common, and that we met there when I went to get my initial SES back in 2009(I think). It was fun talking about our experiences there on the Kenai and how your training affected our lifepaths. She went on to get some more flight training, eventually land the Beaver job on floats, and is now working on her A&P in Fairbanks. Me, I used my rating for just fun, mainly flying a amphib Maule around my home lakes in AZ. After selling my auto body company in 2015, I decided to take this job in Juneau flying 207s and 208s on wheels. After proving myself for a season and gaining valuable SE Alaska time, I finally got the float Beaver job as well.
Neither one of us would be doing what we are now without having the excellent core of fundamental float training that Darlene, Dwayne, and yourself provided. Looking back, it really was solid training, not just a logbook entry.
“I learned so much from the instructor’s and staff at AFR. The lessons and stories/experience that the instructor’s pass on to the students here will transfer to any type of aviation. This is a seaplane course, but also a course to improve aeronautical decision making.”
I just got back from my time at Alaska Float Planes. What a great experience, the most fun flying I have done in ten years of flying. I followed the course and questions as prescribed and was 100% prepared and confident for my checkride. Great job by my CFI Joey. Would highly recommend this course. Fly into ANC and a beautiful easy drive down to Moose Pass. Ready to come back!
This is the “stick and rudder” course you’ve never had, but need.
Vern is great. The CFIs are great. The Super Cubs are great. But these lakes are something else. Wow! What an experience. I could have only had that here.
As a 25 year Air Force fighter pilot, air show pilot and general aviation pilot I cannot agree more with your approach and lessons from this first newsletter.
Thank’s again for the great experience!!!!!!
Just wanted to say hello and tell you that I was hooked on Floats as soon as you signed my logbook in July of ’08 with a ASES. Now I have my commercial sea rating and have been flying this Maule 235 amphib all summer on Lake Powell in AZ. I don’t think there is more fun to be had flying than in a floatplane and BIG thanks to you and Darlene for training me to do something I love and now will continue to do forever. I would love to come visit again and fly with you to be critiqued by the best…there is always more to learn and improve on.
Thanks for the introduction to “floats”, it has really boosted the Fun in my life!!
Just want to thank you again for the great time I had at your place this past week & to thank you for letting me do it “my way”. It couldn’t have been more perfect for me, doing three hours or so of the basics with your instructors (all great guys by the way) & then that incredible 3hr+ flight in the mountains with Vern which put it all in perspective for me.
This is the best spot to learn and get rated for a Airplane Single Engine Sea The owner is also the checkride examiner with lots hours of experience Friendly staff and instructors There have Cabins to stay And ready to walk to the Dock and start learning flying with Floats Views are incredible, lakes are awesome This is a life experience course
Best ever flying experience.
I am from Uruguay (South America) and I came to learn to fly on floats.
I am a retired UAF pilot and I fly a Super cub in my country and I must say this was one of my finest flying experience in my life. Vern and his wife made me feel at home in my 6 days stay. If you want just to fly in Alaska you may go to Anchorage. If you want to fly the real Alaska go to Moose Pass with Vern.