According to Malcom Gladwell?s hypothesis from Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of practice in a field to reach the heights of success achieved by Bill Gates, the Beatles, and other icons. This makes Sheldon Air Service?s David Lee the Paul McCartney of pilots?every time he takes to the air, Lee draws upon experience gained during more than three decades of experience and 12,000 flight hours.
Lee?s carefully honed talent?and his specialization in glacier landings?makes him an ideal guide for the company?s three flightseeing tours. One heads to the Mountain House Shelter, which founder Don Sheldon built, while others glide to Kahiltna Glacier Base Camp or Denali National Park. The air service can also aid arctic adventurers, offering air support to mountaineering expeditions or skyward tracking of the Iditarod?s meandering course.
Dedicated to studying and rescuing the animals of Alaska?s unique marine environments, the keepers of Alaska SeaLife Center facilitate encounters with marine life at an array of exhibits. Integrating the terrain of Resurrection Bay, the exhibits give guests an up-close view of animals at their most natural. Harbor seals sun themselves on the rocks, 2,000-pound steller sea lions glide ballerina-like through the water, and a giant Pacific octopus gestures with all eight arms during a solo rendition of ?Y.M.C.A.? Alaska SeaLife Center?s veterinarians also work behind the scenes at the I.Sea.U, a refuge for rescued marine mammals that has helped rehabilitate otter pups, walrus calves, and beluga calves.
The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum takes visitors on a flyby of the the state's aeronautical history. The vast facility—composed of five hangars of planes and exhibits, a restoration hangar, and three theaters—covers aviation history from the early days of flight to modern military aviation. More than 20 vintage aircraft can be found throughout, including a 1931 Fairchild Pilgrim 100B, a 1943 Grumman G44 Widgeon, and a 1981 Boeing B737-290C. Meanwhile, the museum's spot on the south shore of Lake Hood—the busiest seaplane base in the world—gives visitors a glimpse of modern planes in action.
Supporting education. Building a stronger community. Creating accessibility. Alaska Junior Theater aims to do all that and more. The nonprofit organization hosts youthful audiences at educational and entertaining performances, which address subjects such as geography, social studies, and history. Dedicated to bringing the arts to the community at large, the organization also partners with villages and rural school districts throughout Alaska and includes bus transportation in its youth ticket sales.
At Seward Helicopter Tours a dog team escorts visitors on summer and winter tours preceded by helicopter flights. Guests can trek among the icebergs of Bear Glacier, soar above the whales, sea lions, and harbor seals of Resurrection Bay, or rest in a sled as dogs power it through Godwin Glacier. Seward Helicopter Tours' pilots can also drop guests off on half- to multiday kayaking trips or two-hour guided excursions through an ice field's moulins, moraines, and vacationing zambonis.
In the late 1960s, Anchorage's grocers held a contest to see who could sell the most toilet paper. One of two first-place prizes was $3,000, but the victor chose the other—a baby Asian elephant. He quickly realized he couldn't take care of her, so he put her up in the heated barn of local horse rancher Sammye Seawell. Sammye fell so in love with this small pachyderm that she began housing other abandoned creatures—enough to fill a zoo. More than 40 years later, The Alaska Zoo's keepers and staff continue this simple but powerful mission: to rescue orphaned, injured, and captive-born animals of the Arctic, sub-Arctic, and similar regions.
Today, the zoo’s habitats house more than 110 animals from 53 cold-loving species. In semiaquatic zones, polar bears nap, harbor seals swim, and river otters attempt to solve calculus equations. In terrestrial environments, amur tigers play with a ball attached to a zipline, and black bears lounge in a hammock made from recycled fire hoses. Other habitats house residents such as snow leopards, reindeer, and wolves.
In addition to caring for these animals, staffers conduct Iditarod-focused educational events in March and use animal-themed light displays to celebrate both the summer solstice and approaching winter holidays. They also raise awareness for wildlife through educational programs, such as seasonal adventure camps and zookeeper shadowing, and join in conservation efforts, such as serving as ambassadors for Polar Bears International and the Toupees for Bald Eagles Project.