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.
The non-profit Alaska Native Heritage Center honors the diverse indigenous peoples of our 49th state by chronicling Native cultures, languages, and traditions and instilling pride in Native communities. Alongside a serene lake, a wooded path winds through six life-size dwellings in the center's outdoor facilities. These re-creations of ancient homes showcase Alaska's 11 cultural groups, and at each site, cultural representatives perform Native dances, demonstrate games and art, and tell stories about life in the past. The Alaska Native Heritage Center utilizes education and celebration to spread knowledge of Alaska's unique Native cultures across the globe, while also preserving and perpetuating indigenous traditions. Inside the museum, a collection of tools, artwork, and drums provides a tangible representation of contemporary Native people’s lives. The museum covers all native cultures in exhibits such as the Inupiaq exhibit and the Athabascan exhibit, which features a hand-woven birch-bark basket and moccasins made of moose hide and beads. To supplement the interactive displays, the Heritage Center conducts cultural outreach through a variety of programs, including the Walking in Two Worlds program, which connects 6th- through 8th-grade students with their cultural roots. The Alaska Native Playwrights Project helps Native people to find an outlet for their stories through theatrical productions and eloquent playbills.:
Determined to help visitors not just see but experience the majestic beauty of Chugach National Forest and Chugach State Park, Alaska Backcountry Access's guides offer day trips and multiday wilderness outings all yearlong. Come summer, the landscape springs to life as plants bloom and migratory animals return to the area. It is during these months that the guides lead outings exploring the region by land and by water. On whitewater rafting and kayaking trips, they traverse the surrounding waterways as snowmelt streams down the mountainsides, and their hikes journey throughout the canyons and forests while occasionally stopping to explore gold-panning sites or noteworthy natural features.
But their excursions don't stop for the winter?the guides simply change their approach. Snowmobiles, snowshoes, and portable snow-cone machines become the equipment of choice as the guides continue to lead trips throughout the area's frozen landscape.
With its craggy mountains, monochrome tundra, and verdant valleys, Alaska itself stands as a monument to the beauty and power of nature. Focusing on the state's prehistory, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature's sprawling collection of artifacts educates the public with engrossing and educational dioramas and displays. Among the museum’s notable exhibits is its newest installation, Ice, which delves into the profound geological changes wrought by the last Ice Age. Likewise, the Schmidt Mine exhibit lets visitors touch and pick up craggy specimens from the collection, including meteorites and fluorescent stones. Ancient mammoth bones and fearsome saber-tooth tiger jaws show patrons the fauna encountered by Alaska's first human inhabitants, whereas fully assembled dinosaur skeletons transport viewers even further back in time, way before the Jurassic Park movie came out.
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.