Every year, 65 to 80 percent of all aviation accidents in Alaska occur on take off or landing. Before you take off, there are things you can do to increase your odds of a safe return. For starters, brush up your flying skills, have your aircraft inspected, and of course, before you fly be sure to check the weather, conduct a pre-flight inspection and file a flight plan.
Double check your aircraft
Aircraft inspections are especially crucial after a long winter or an extended period of inactivity. Your aircraft may need to be inspected more frequently when used in demanding operations. And don't forget to inspect parts during landing gear changes if the newly installed gear was not part of the annual inspection. Many aircraft maintenance resources are available at: http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/
More information for maintaining our aging fleet of small aircraft can be found at: http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/small_airplanes/cos/aging_aircraft/
Double check your skills
General aviation pilots, guides, corporate pilots and lodge operators can participate in Medallion Foundation programs. The Medallion Foundation programs promote safer flying in Alaska through increased awareness, prudent risk management and documented procedures. They also offer free use of flight simulators or aviation training devices at several locations around the state, in order for pilots to brush up on their skills and practice good decision-making prior to flying. One device is a full-motion PA-18 Super Cub that is trailer-mounted and visits locations on the road system. To schedule your simulator session, call (907) 743-8050 or go to www.medallionfoundation.org for more details.
Certified flight instructors are a great resource to practice essential skills for flying in Alaska. Look for an instructor who can provide training and supervision in the types of operations you intend to conduct. See a CFI before you fly, especially when changing from one type of operation to another, such as from "not flying" to "flying" in the spring, switching between wheels/floats/skis, or from airport operations to unimproved sites during hunting season.
For off-airport operations, we have developed the Alaskan Off Airport Operations Guide (PDF) with the help of several industry experts. The information can help anyone improve, no matter what type of flying you do (print double-sided and fold in half as a booklet).
For additional resources or information, check out http://www.FAASafety.gov or call the Alaskan Region FAASTeam Field Office at 866-357-4704.