Flying with skis

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to fly with skis?

Flying with skis presents its own set of challenges, according to Steve Williams, an Alaskan DPE, ATP, IA, and A&P whose company, Acme Cub Training, specializes in modifications for the Piper Super Cub PA-18 and other Cub models. He’s also a flight instructor who teaches flying on Bushwheels, floats, and skis.

Who better to ask about the safest way to fly with skis?

“Ski flying is some of the most forgiving flying if the snow is good and the light is right,” he said. “It is very difficult to ground loop an aircraft on skis. The plane just slides sideways.”

Steve Williams landing in deep snow on the very top of the Knik Glacier overlooking the Prince William Sound. (All Photos by Rob Stapleton Jr.)

Alaska’s early aviation pioneers developed skis for aircraft in the 1920s and perfected them up into the 1940s. Many of those developments are still being used on general aviation aircraft today.

Many are Alaska legends — Carl Ben Eielson, Harold (Thrill-em, Spill-em, no Kill-em) Gillam, and Bob Reeve — who designed and built their own skis for a variety of aircraft, including Stearman, Fairchild, Hamilton, Stinson, Travelair, and the Ford Tri-motor. 

Reeve of Reeve Aleutian Airways is said to have made skis for his Fairchild 71 from a metal sign from a lodge in Northway Alaska after it burned down.

Today’s Alaska bush pilots, a new breed of bravado wintertime pilots and aircraft owners, have developed their own techniques and use a variety of skis and aircraft modifications during the snowy winter months.

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This post was originally published by General Aviation News on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.

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