The whole experience starts with getting to the airstrip in time for your plan. This usually involves a call in to the local flight rep. since bush planes run kind of on a schedule, if you can accept "in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening" as a schedule. Once you call and get the ETA of your pilot (usually a down to the minute time that is never quite right) you need to get to the airstrip, which is about a quarter mile or so away from teacher housing. If you're lucky, someone is heading down with their 4-wheeler and will let you jump on the back, but most often it's a walk through the village with your stuff (usually a backpack and maybe some Rubbermaid totes if you plan to bring back food from a larger town or a village with a more stocked AC than yours).
|The airstrip is that thing that looks like a road behind the houses on the right.|
Once on the plane it is a quick hop, skip and a jump from village to village as the pilot picks up and unloads passengers in Scammon, Chevak and Hooper. These little 10 minute flights cost about $60 one way, but are just about the only travel option during the spring and summer before the freeze allows for snow machining across the tundra.
The flight from Scammon to Bethel is a cold and bumpy 55 minutes. It's during this stretch that you start to notice things about the caravan, like the fact that the crack in the ceiling has been patched with packaging tape, the missing piece of the casing by the window has been filled in with something that smells suspiciously like super glue and the back right side of your seat has not been snapped into the track on the floor. The flight itself is only about an hour, but with all of the stops, unloading and loading, adding and removing of seats, and the pilot calling in all of the changes in flight path it can take closer to two hours. During these two hours you start to find yourself watching the sky for weather changes and praying that it stays good so that you don't get stranded in a village that isn't your own.
|The view on the way to Chevak|
|No little boarding tunnels here.|
Travel safely this September 11th!