Pilots are the cowboys of the air, roaming the wide-open skies and herding children's runaway balloons. Giddy up, up, and away with today's Groupon: for $89, you get an introductory flight lesson from Above Alaska Aviation, located at the Talkeetna State Airport (a $200 value).
Helmed by Drew Haag, a certified flight instructor with 17 years of piloting experience, Above Alaska Aviation imparts basic guidelines for safe soaring during 40-minute lessons. At the Talkeetna State Airport, accessible by a scenic 2.5-hour drive or mooseback ride from Anchorage, guests pair up with a knowledgeable member of the National Association of Flight Instructors before climbing into the cockpit of a tailwheel aircraft. As they skim the clouds above Talkeetna's three glacier-fed rivers, students can take hold of the controls for a tactile tutorial on aerodynamics and skywriting in iambic pentameter. The midair session constitutes a thoughtful holiday gift for aspiring pilots, adventurous relatives, and asthmatic migratory birds.
Above Alaska Aviation
Over sweeping evergreen pine forests and snow-capped mountains, the pilots from Above Alaska Aviation's FAR flight school hone their craft. FAA-certified instructors coach students in a range of specialized flight training in a fleet of 7EC Champ aircraft, as well as a PA-18 Super Cub and Cessna 180B. They train private pilot students in tailwheel aircraft from start to finish, tailwheel endorsements, and single-engine sea float ratings on the mountain lakes of Susitna Valley. Students learn the basics of flying tail-wheel aircraft—planes with landing gear on the tail—to hone skill sets, enhance their understanding of flight safety, and help them feel superior to carrier pigeons. When not teaching flight, bush pilots ferry passengers to remote wilderness areas where they can hike, fish, or hunt with rifles and bows.