Bush Pilot’s View: Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness

Bush Pilot’s View: Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness


[bird sounds] [wind] [projector whirl] LYNN: I’m spoiled with my lifestyle. I mean, I started out as a child in the backseat of a
Super Cub. And my dad flew everywhere. And so I just kind of grew up with it.
And I kind of accept it as – it’s just natural for us. [projector whirl] I’m Lynn Ellis and I grew up on a homestead
in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve. I’ve been flying within these mountains
since I was 16 years old. [wind howling] LYNN COCKPIT HEADSET: When I was a little kid,
my dad took me on my first airplane ride. Flew up there, flew over the edge of the Nebesna glacier. And of course I was probably, what, 7 years old maybe?
And ah, I never have forgotten that. [engine rumble] LYNN: The ability to be able to access
places that are inaccessible, basically. I mean, that’s a real gift. And I’m really thankful that I’ve managed to
be able to do that all my life. [engine turning and starting] [birds singing, insects humming] [water splashing] [loud thunderous crashing] LYNN COCKPIT HEADSET: So much freedom here,
and so much beauty. And it never get’s old. [engine rumble] LYNN COCKPIT HEADSET: I don’t know the words for it,
I’m at a loss for words. But, it’s just, awesome. LYNN:This is where I grew up,
and so it becomes home more then anything. [babbling water, splashing] My mother was one hell of a backwoods lady.
She taught us all the things that we needed to know. It was a subsistence – a true subsistence lifestyle. I worked for my dad as soon as I got to be old enough
to do things and was in his guide business. And then I started my air service, and I flew air charter
out of Gulkana for — what, 30 years out of ‘em. [clanking, engines] We’re going to fly,
kind of up into the caldera on Mount Drum. My job designation, now, is 2181 Pilot.
So what I do is I fly for the park. I primarily, I haul a lot of the maintenance people around, because that’s the only access we have is by air. I fly search and rescue missions if they come up.
I fly the rangers and the LE’s. And we do eagle surveys. We do moose surveys.
We do caribou surveys. We do wolf surveys. LYNN COCKPIT HEADSET: Air traffic,
ah, 757 is overhead, Jake Spare, 4,000. [engine accelerating] LYNN: And what I really wanted to do when I came here,
was to pass on my knowledge of the Wrangells to the younger rangers that are coming in, and to be able to mentor the pilots,
the newer pilots that come in. [wind] And as I get older, I realize that my time is running out. I just seem to pay more attention now to nature
than I did before. I actually think that it —
it helps me deal with the mortality of the human race. [low rumble] [distant plane engine] I think that if we can keep what we’ve got, basically,
especially the wilderness designations, I just think to have this vastness that we have is unique,
and we should endeavor to keep it, like it is. [wind howling] [low rumble] You really begin to feel humble and you feel small
in these mountains. I like the feeling of small. And you get up against one of these mountains
and you’re in your airplane and it’s so tiny. It’s smaller than any mosquito ever was. And you fly around this mountain and look at it
and it’s like — it’s a good feeling. It’s just a really good feeling to know that there’s
bigger and better things out there. [wind]

31 Replies to “Bush Pilot’s View: Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness”

  1. Thanks for filming and sharing. We just had the opportunity to fly over the Grand Canyon and can't wait til we can do the same at your park.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more, Lynn, on all of the points you make. Sending you love from your Texas family!

  3. Did anyone else see the shooting star in the background travelling right to left just under the prop at 1:20–1:21?  I had to replay and pause, but it's there!!!  Very cool.

  4. They snuck some Knik Glacier Gorge footage in there; at 1:42 minutes. They should have said that General Aviation ("Small Planes") is the ONLY way to really see and get around in Alaska; 82% of our Villages have no connection to the national road system, flying is the only practical way to get there!!! The 82% is an Official AK-DOT number, I did not make that up.
    Regards from Anchorage!

  5. There's still about 22 million acres of eligible wilderness left in the National Park System waiting to be designated.

  6. Lynn is one of the best bush pilots around. He helped me fly crews into my property in the Wrangells back in the 90's. When he owned Gulkana Air Service, he showed me where he hid the key to his office so I could spend the night there and how to turn the pumps on to fill up my plane. I wrote down the gallons used on my tab and squared up once a month. That is how old time Alaskans did business 🙂

  7. I have my helicopter raring working on airplane rating. There is just something about bush flying like that. I'd take that over a 747 any day!

  8. Thankyou , Ive only been to Alaska once, wish i could have stayed
    Alsaka is Awasome Amazing and such a wonderful place
    Wish i could come back

  9. You are lucky to have grown up here and to be able to do this for a living. Thank you for sharing the views you get to see daily. Absolutely beautiful!!!!!

  10. I really really want this to be my life, it will be one day, I am planing on attending aviation school within the next 4 months, and I will eagerly be looking for this exact position in this exact part of Alaska which I was fortunate enough to visit this past summer. Wrangell St. Elias. Anywhere and all of Alaska is pure beauty. NPSWilderness, you will hear more from me in the next 1-3 years

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