Ketchikan Floatplane History and Tours

Visitors stopping in Ketchikan have the opportunity to experience the spectacular scenery of Southeast Alaska on a once in a lifetime floatplane ride. Whether you are seeking a relaxing plane ride with scenic views of the Misty Fjords National Monument or an opportunity to access remote areas of Alaska to witness bears in their natural habitat, there is something for everyone to make this a highlight of your Alaskan experience.


The use of floatplanes dates back to 1910 with the invention of the French Fabre Hydravion, the first successful plane attempt to land on water. During both WWI and WWII, floatplanes held various purposes including air-sea rescues. As advancements in aviation ensued, the use of floatplanes shifted toward being frequently used among bush pilots who are commonly flying to remote regions with limited access to landing strips.


1910 French Fabre Hydravion and modern floatplane (Photo / CC BY)

More About Float Planes

The DeHavilland Beaver and Otter, considered the “best bush planes ever built,” are the most commonly used float planes for Alaskan tourism. When you hop aboard you are guaranteed to get have incredible views as every passenger will have their own window seat. Floatplanes are equipped with state of the art headphones that will allow you to enjoy a fully narrated flight where your guide will point out not to miss moments.

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Floatplane cabin and cockpit (CC BY)


Ketchikan Misty Fjords Flightseeing via Floatplane

Discover the magnificent Misty Fjords National Monument and view some of the most spectacular scenery in Alaska from the comfort of your window seat. A highlight of your 2 hour flightseeing tour will be an exhilarating landing on an alpine lake or remote fjord.


Mitsy Fjords in Ketchikan, AK (Photo / CC BY)

Massive glacier action created this 2.3 million acre ice-rimmed wilderness. See majestic fjords, cascading waterfalls, jewel-like lakes, and abundant wildlife during your flightseeing exploration. Be on the lookout for sightings of brown and black bear, Sitka black-tailed deer, wolves, moose and bald eagles.  You'll fly over Revillagigedo Island en route to Neets Bay in Tongass National Forest. A fully guided nature walk along a quarter-mile trail through old growth forest takes you to Neets Bay Creek, a remote site where the annual gathering of fish is a huge draw for the region.


Ketchikan Neets Bay Bear Adventure via Floatplane

During this 3 hour excursion you'll board a DeHavilland Beaver or DeHavilland Otter floatplane with a guaranteed window seat in Ketchikan's most plentiful concentration of black bears.

 Black bear in Ketchikan, AK (Photo / CC BY)

Keep your camera ready for a myriad of photo opportunities as you'll spend 45 minutes at the viewing platform watching black bears fishing for and feeding on salmon heading upstream to spawn, and eagles perch in surrounding trees waiting for scraps. Your excursion concludes with a 25-minute return flight back to the float deck, and a relaxing drive back to the pier.


Ketchikan Exclusive Flightseeing & Crab Feast

The Ketchikan exclusive flightseeing and crab feast starts off with a 30-minute flight via floatplane to George Inlet Lodge, bringing you over the mountains to the far uninhabited side of Revillagigedo Island. You will crest breathtaking peaks where the keen viewer may see mountain goats resting on crisp snow or black bears foraging for fresh berries.


Crab feast and floatplane dock in Ketchikan, AK (Photo / CC BY)

Your meal will begin with Alaskan Amber beer, white wine, and smoked salmon served by the fireplace. Dinner features salad, savory Dungeness Crab paired with clarified butter and baby red potatoes followed by cheesecake, smothered in fresh Alaskan blueberries. This tour concludes with a relaxing and scenic drive back to the cruise ship terminal.

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