Alaskan bush pilot, and the founder of “Alaska Floats and Skis,” Don Lee, will be the featured speaker at the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association Annual Safety Seminar & Fly-In, May 2-4, at Madden’s Resort, Brainerd, Minnesota.
Lee lived in the Alaskan bush in the early 1970s and began flying for lodge support. He then branched into guiding hunters and fishermen. Over the last 30 years, Lee has gained extensive flight experience all over Alaska, from the Aleutian Chain to the Beaufort Sea.
With hundreds of hours flying in the Gates of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, Shumagin Islands, and Cold Bay, Lee operated an on-demand air service for seven years. In Bristol Bay, he flew fishermen to remote sites and provided lodge support.
Lee has flown throughout South America including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. More recently, he has flown STOL missions in Afghanistan for the coalition forces during “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Lee also has experience flying in the wilds of Australia and has flown over 130,000 gallons of fuel to remote gold mines (200 gallons at a time) without a single incident.
In Talkeetna, Alaska, Lee has provided expedition air support for climbers on Mt. McKinley and has over 5,000 glacier landings. He has over 7,000 hours on floats alone with a total time exceeding 17,000 hours.
His motivation in operating “Alaska Floats & Skis” is to share these experiences and pass on safety tips and tricks of the trade to fellow pilots.
Lee never tires of flying with students and friends. He prides himself in working with the most novice pilots to experienced aviators, interested in honing their skills.
Lee holds ratings through Airline Transport Pilot, and is a Designated Pilot Examiner for the FAA.
He is supported by two other expert float and skiplane pilots including Valorie Reis and Esther Hershberg.
Valorie Reis is a graduate of Southern Illinois University. Following graduation, she moved to Hawaii and obtained her commercial, instrument, seaplane, glider and flight instructor ratings. In Hawaii, she instructs, tows gliders and flys skydivers during the winter, and teaches for “Alaska Floats & Skis” in the summer.
Esther Hershberg holds her single and multi-engine, commercial, instrument and instructor ratings, and has a 100% pass rate among her students.
When not instructing, Hershberg flys exterior loads on floats to remote cabins. She is as calm with Moose horns tied to the struts of her plane, as she is instructing students. Hershberg is a graduate of the University of Louisville, and attended Vincennes University in Vincennes, Indiana.
The Alaska Floats & Skis office is located on Christiansen Lake, less than four miles from beautiful downtown Talkeetna. Talkeetna is about two and one-half hours north of Anchorage and five hours south of Fairbanks, off of Parks Highway.
For additional information about “Alaska Floats & Skis,” call 907-733-4500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on the “Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association Annual Safety Seminar & Fly-In,” contact Mary Alverson at 612-240-0123 or email email@example.com (www.MnSeaplanes.com).
For lodging at Madden’s Resort, call 800-642-5363 (www.maddens.com). Madden’s Resort is located on Gull Lake and East Gull Lake Airport (9Y2) is located immediately adjacent to the resort. See article published in Midwest Flyer Magazine on the 2011 seminar at https://www.midwestflyer.com/?p=3316.
NOTAM: Call Mary Alverson at 612-240-0123 or Ben Thuringer at Madden’s Resort at 800-642-5363 to determine if the ice is off Gull Lake before flying a floatplane to the resort. Also, call the airport manager at East Gull Lake Airport at 218-828-9279 for runway conditions. The grass airstrip is 2618 x 160 feet. Large aircraft can fly to Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (KBRD). For information call (218) 825-2166.