Whether you are going to Alaska on a Princess Cruise or traveling independently you have to splurge and get yourself on a flight to see Mount McKinley.
We arrived in Denali to the Denali Princess lodge and started our true Alaskan adventure today. In the afternoon we were on a bus heading to Fly Denali with our hosts Guy, Karen and Nicole from @PrincessCruises as well as Rick and Denise from @RickGriffin on Twitter.
What a great bunch of people to fly with. Our group loaded onto the 9-seat 1966 De Havilland Beaver bush plane. Our pilot Jim Andie has completely restored the plane with his own two hands and it is his baby.
We were in for a bumpy ride as the wind was bursting. Originally we had a tour planned to land on the Mount McKinley’s glacier, but the weather wasn’t cooperating today and our flight was changed to a fly over with the possibility of landing.
Jim called the shots in the air. As we bounced around a little bit and the clouds came in, he decided that we wouldn’t be landing today.
We ended up circling Mount McKinley witnessing spectacular views. It felt as if we could reach out and touch the snow capped mountain. A depression of clouds had formed over the summit causing an awe inspiring site right before our eyes.
It is almost impossible to convey the beauty from the air.
Everyone in the plane had window seat with unobstructed views and Jim made sure to turn the plane and pass from left to right letting everyone enjoy equal amounts of time. We were treated to a complete panoramic scene of snow capped mountains.
Fun Fact: Mount McKinley is the Highest Mountain in North America at 6194 meters. The locals call it Mount Denali and Athabaskan word meaning “The Great One”
Donning our headsets we could speak freely to one another and marvel at how privileged and lucky we are to be here. Captain Jim couldn’t be a better guide. His soothing voice kept us all calm during the pockets of turbulence and when he told us to think of the wind as waves in the water and we are simply riding over top, it helped everyone enjoy the rhythm of the flight.
Our return flight saw some more bumps and turbulence but Jim turned on the music to relax us all. He announced that our landing was going to be a bit swirly but not to worry. What does swirly mean? We asked. “The winding is swirling in a spiral and we may be tossed around a bit.” He replied. His skill guided us in without a hitch and we were all surprised at how smooth touchdown was.
I had to laugh when Captain Jim announce “Another Death Averted.” He had a great sense of humour yet was extremely professional and talented. A lesser pilot probably would have had a heavier landing, but we sailed in with ease. He has been a pilot for 15 years flying everywhere from Panama to Alaska.
He chatted with us and joked with us and when he told us that he sold everything he had to fulfill his dream, I swooned with admiration. Dave and I love people that take life by the horns and pursue their passions.
Our trip to Mount McKinley was certainly a great experience. It was a thrill ride filled with incredible scenery. It truly was one of the greatest adventures we have done and lucky us, we get to fly a couple more times during this amazing Twitter Trip Sponsored by Princess Cruises.