Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Alaska Pilots Weigh the Risks, Benefits of Flying
For Danny Davidson, flying is more than a business; it’s a way of life—one he shares with hundreds of other Alaskans.
"I think the word is getting out more and more that if you go to Alaska and you don't go flightseeing, you really didn't see very much,” said Danny Davidson, leaning against his floatplane on the shore of Lake Hood.
Davidson is a 29-year member of the Iditarod Air Force, a volunteer with the Christian Pilot’s Association and the owner of Davidson’s Aviation.
For him, flying is more than a business; it’s a way of life—one he shares with hundreds of other Alaskans.
Flying brings plenty of rewards: Davidson points to a picture of his family taped to the dashboard of his Cessna 185, and a journal where his clients memorialize the best parts of their trips.
It also brings plenty of risks.
Davidson said he’s lost too many friends over the past year: A family killed in a midair collision over Amber Lake earlier this summer, and Terry Smith, the pilot lost in the same crash that killed former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens last August.
"If you can imagine the pressure he's under,” said Davidson, describing Smith’s last flight. “He's got Sen. Ted Stevens and some big-wigs from GCI, and he's gonna tell them the weather's too bad or he's not a good enough pilot to take them fishing?"
But despite the losses, Davidson said people are still lining up to take off, and at the end of the day, the draw of the Alaska sky is as strong as ever.