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Due to the unpredictable southeast weather, we decided to stay an extra day in Sitka. We took advantage of time to get some computer work done in a comfy rbnb with fast wifi (a luxury when you’re on the road). We also had the chance to meet up with one of our viewers for the first time! We went out for a burger and brew on the town and geeked out on airplane talk with our new friend who was stationed in Sitka. The weather the next day cooperated just fine and we managed to capture some fun shots of this very unique runway surrounded by water.
Needless to say the 170NM flight down to Ketchikan was relatively short but incredibly scenic. We encountered this amazing layer of wave clouds that covered the sky like a drop ceiling on a building. The soft ceiling above us created an incredible contrast with the rough, jagged terrain below us. As in many instances flying around Alaska, we felt like the scenery was out of this world.
Ketchikan was a welcome sight when we finally caught a glimpse of the relatively large town located literally in the middle of nowhere on Gravina Island. The radio suddenly got very busy as PAKT is one of the busiest airports in the state, home base to over 10 air carriers and charter companies including Alaska Airlines and Delta. After Lake Hood Seaplane Base in Anchorage, Ketchikan is one of the busiest seaplane bases in the country, with several companies operating year round serving several remote native communities in the area. The airport is on an island and you have to take a short 5 minute ferry (that leaves every half hour) to get to town.
Ketchikan is the southernmost city in Alaska with a population of about 8k, and also one of my personal favorite cities to visit. Be advised, I have only visited in the “off season” in the spring or fall where I don’t encounter the madness of the cruise ship industry. Ketchikan is very busy in summer as it is the first port of call for the fleet of cruise ships that visit Alaska every year. Almost 500 ships stop here in the short summer season bringing about 1 million visitors to crowd the streets of this small coastal town. The streets
are saturated with gift stores, ironically enough, the same owners from the Caribbean gift shops where the cruise ships go in winter. About 95% of these businesses are closed in the times that I have visited, which enhances the character of the local winter population in this unique, quirky town.
Historically the economy depended upon commercial fishing, canneries and timber industries.
As most small coastal towns in the state, Ketchikan has followed suit relinquishing dependency upon natural resources and turning to tourism for their main economy. Government activities and commercial fishing continue to persevere as well providing employment year round.
This time we lucked out and got an amazing couple of days of sunshine and with the use of the FBOs curtesy car we were able to explore the town and run errands. Ketchikan is home to the Tongass National Forest which provides astonishing trails within this unique temperate rainforest. One of mine and Sia’s favorite activities when we visit this area.
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